Reach for Excellence

Management Skill Builder: Efficiently Screen Job Applicants

Nov. 16, 2016

You may need to reevaluate your process for finding new employees. Having a system in place to receive and screen job applications is essential, as the average job listing brings 250 resumes, with each requiring five minutes to sort through, according to Local Eye Site’s report, The Real Cost of Unqualified Applicants. That totals 20+ hours of work basically to sort out the unqualified.

Here’s an efficient system to screen quickly through job applications to get to the in-office interview stage.  

Step 1: Scanning  
Scan through the job applications and eliminate those who are job-hopping, and have grammar or spelling errors. Do not spend more than 30 seconds per application.
Job-hopping is a big problem. You do not want to invest a lot of time, effort and energy into someone who is going to leave you in the next 6-12 months. Training a new staff member puts a tremendous drain on the practice. A rule of thumb we like to follow is hire slow, fire fast, so take your time and find the right candidate for your office rather than hiring a job-hopper just to get a body in the practice.

The new hire is going to represent the practice. You only get one time to make a first impression, so make sure the new hire will make a great impression on everyone with whom they have interactions. Grammar or spelling errors is one of the quickest ways to give a bad impression. It shows a lack of interest in detail.

Step 2: Experience
Of the job applications that make the cut from the Scanning stage, now look for experience in customer service or the position you are looking to fill. Every position in the office deals with people at some point. Those with a customer service background often already have learned the skill set needed to deal with people. If you can get applicants who already have experience in the position you are looking to fill, that is a bonus, but not a prerequisite. Spend less than a minute on this step.  

Step 3: Personality
We believe that finding the right personality for the job you are looking to fill is essential. For the people who survived the first two steps, send an e-mail asking them to respond within two days. The e-mail tells the applicant: You are being considered for a position in our office. We want to know a little more about you. Please describe yourself by identifying which column of words best describes you, and which column is second best at describing you. (We adapted Florence Littauher’s  work for this exercise.)

Anyone who does not respond in two days tells you about their promptness. In a job application situation, the applicant is putting their best foot forward. If you hire someone who does not respond within two days, expect them to always be late and miss all deadlines you give them.

If you are looking for a receptionist who is outgoing and loves people, then column 1 is key. If you are looking for a team leader or an office manager, then column 2 or 3 is where you want to go. Column 3 is essential for a job that requires accurate detail, such as bookkeeper, or person who orders jobs from the labs. If you are looking for someone who is a team player, who makes everyone around them feel good, then go to Column 4.

Step 4: Phone Interview

At some point in time, everyone on staff will talk to patients over the phone, so this becomes an important step in the process. How does the person sound on the phone? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they give the impression of professionalism? Always ask “What do you know about us?” to determine if they have done their homework.  Did the applicant end the phone call positively?

Anyone who survives the phone interview can then be invited for an in-office interview. The in-office interview is a topic for another day.

Take this week to re-evaluate your office system for evaluating job applications. Doing it now, when it is not a red-hot issue, gives you more time to create a system that works for your office resulting in the best hire for the position you need to fill.

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