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How to Fairly Evaluate Job Applicants

How to Fairly Evaluate Job Applicants

When it’s time to hire, you need to get the right person the first time. That means assessing resumes and cover letters fairly and carefully considering your options rather than making a decision based only on emotion or first impressions. The stakes are high, and you may face some pressure to hire someone in a hurry.

“That empty seat needs to be filled, and the answer needs to be permanent to avoid further costs or losses of revenues to the company,” says business consultant Dawn Boyer, Ph.D. Here are her tips for fairly evaluating job applicants.

Start With a Strong Job Description

To fairly compare job applicants with your company’s needs and against each other, you need a standard to measure against: the job description. A well-written job description can help you assess candidates and develop interview questions, Boyer says.

A job description should describe day-to-day requirements and should specify the experience, skills and education you’re looking for from applicants. “Determine what keywords are directly relevant to the job description,” Boyer says, then search for those keywords in the resumes you receive. Resumes that don’t have the relevant keywords can be safely weeded out.

Build a Rubric

The resumes you keep can then be “graded” on a rubric, Boyer says. Use the job description to set “points” such as a match on the education level you require, the number of years of experience, skills and training, Boyer says. Grade each rubric point on a 1-to-5 range, add up the points and see who comes out on top.

This system can also be used after the interview process has started. For example, personality and in-person answers could be used to expand the rubric, Boyer says. As a result, you’ll be gathering more data, which makes the possibility of a tie less likely. If you ever run into questions about which candidate might be stronger, go back to the job description to remind yourself of what you’re looking for.

Set Aside Dedicated Time for Review

The hiring process shouldn’t be rushed, no matter how quickly you need to fill a position. Hiring the wrong person simply means more work and money spent down the road, so take the time to get it right when you have the chance. This means blocking out time on your calendar to review resumes with your full attention, Boyer says, rather than trying to fit it in when you have a free moment.

As you review the resumes, start jotting down questions to ask all of them based on the matches to the keywords from the job descriptions, Boyer says. Then cull the pile down to about five applicants with the best qualifications, and call around for interviews until you have two or three. Dedicating time to the process will ensure you don’t sound harried when you finally talk to applicants, and you can give them the attention they deserve throughout the process.

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