What do people do to screen job applications?

Current application screening practices include the review of resumes, social media screening, and work samples. Every recruiter knows that these practices are rather time intensive. So it should be no surprise that Gartner found out that an average recruiter spends nearly one-quarter of his/her time screening applications.

Resume Screening
Resume screening is the process of matching the information indicated in a resume (e.g. experience and education) with job requirements. Besides being time-intensive, science has shown that (unstructured) resume screenings are not very good instruments to make assumptions about the capabilities of applicants. This is because the reader makes unreliable and invalid assumptions about the personality of an applicant based upon the resume. These assumptions then lead to biased decisions about the employability of an applicant. You can at least partly avoid these problems by introducing a systematic approach to resume screening.

Social Media Screening
Besides the resume, many [recruiters use social media profiles]( could cost you your,to check on current employees.) to gather first insights about applicants. Although screening social media profiles seem to be a good source of information, a current study has shown that the decisions we make upon social media profiles do not predict the future performance of candidates. Even more, they introduced racial and gender bias by favoring profiles from white females over all other. As for resume screening, making the approach of social media screening more systematic and comparable makes it more likely to make good decisions using this method.

Work Samples
The use of work samples is straight forward: Give the applicant a task that represents her future role and then assess the performance. Overall science shows that work samples are an acceptable predictor of applicant performance. However, if there is a high number of applicants, work samples are not feasible for the screening of applications because they take to much time to screen.

Psychometric Applicant Screening

Research shows that carefully developed psychometric assessments help you as a recruiter or hiring manager to tackle the issue of hiring unsuitable applicants. In the context of recruitment psychometric assessments measure work-related knowledge, skills, abilities, or other characteristics to predict applicant performance. Combined with personal expertise, psychometric tests can help you to systematically evaluate if people have the ability to perform well on a job. On the other side employment tests also help applicants to find jobs they are happy with.

Learn more about Applicant Pre-Screening:

Types of Pre-Employment Assessments
There are a lot of psychometrically sound ways to assess an applicants potential. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses. Out of this reason, science recommends to always use a mix of methods for your screening efforts.

Learn more about different types of Tests:

Biographical Assessments
Biographical Data describes the personal (work) history of an applicant. It is most commonly assessed via the screening of resumes and biographical interview questions. Biographical Assessments rely upon the scientifically underlined assumption that past behaviors of a person predict future behaviors.

Cognitive Ability - Intelligence Assessments
Cognitive Ability (Intelligence) Assessments are the most valid predictor of job performance. Typically these tests measure different aspects of Intelligence (e.g. Speed of Thinking; Problem Solving Ability), for different jobs. There are several ways of assessing important aspects of Cognitive Ability. One example is the use of Speed of Thinking where applicants have to identify a specific number from a series of numbers under time pressure.

Integrity Assessments
Integrity Assessments typically measure how far an applicant tends to be trustworthy and honest. Most commonly integrity assessments consist of a number of statements (such as "I work well with others") that are rated on a Likert scale (e.g. from 1, "Strongly Disagree" to 5 "Strongly agree").

Personality Assessments
Generally speaking, personality is a stable configuration of traits and behaviors that characterize a person (see APA Definition). Research has shown that different jobs require different personalities. Most commonly personality assessments consist of a number of statements (such as "I work well with others") that are rated on a Likert scale (e.g. from 1, "Strongly Disagree" to 5 "Strongly agree").

Reasons to use Applicant Screening Assessments

There are many reasons to use psychometric assessments in the screening process. We listed some of them below:

Make Screening decisions transparent and based on reliable data
If properly selected, psychometric assessments provide reliable and valid data to take an informed screening decision. This has the decisive advantage that decisions can be well justified before all other stakeholders in the recruitment process.

Avoid bias by treating each applicant equally
By administrating the same assessment for each applicant, everyone gets the same chances of getting invited to the next step in the recruitment process.

Reduce time needed for application screening
Applicant screening assessments can drastically reduce the time needed for the process of application screening. This HBR Article illustrates, that this is especially true for organizations with a large applicant pool.

Avoid to make bad hires
Every new employee affects the way an organization works. Hiring people who are unsuitable costs time, money, and potential new business. Besides these rather obvious aspects, the impact of bad hires goes even beyond this by for example affecting the team morale negatively in many cases. There are many examples that illustrate that psychometric assessments can enable recruiters and hiring managers to make better screening decisions.

If you want to learn more about the reasons to use psychometric assessments in recruitment visit:

Quality Criteria for Assessments in Recruitment

Applicant experience
Applicant experience describes different aspects of how an applicant perceives the touchpoints with the recruitment process of a company. For instance, the applicant experience is influenced by the career website, but also by the choice of selection methods (scientific vs. ad-hoc assessments), the timeliness of feedback, and the transparency of recruiting procedures. Research has shown a variety of consequences of a bad applicant experience that range from applicant spreading a bad view of an employer up to losing important talent to competitors. Psychometric assessments can enhance the experience of applicants by strengthening the perceived fairness of the screening procedure.

Learn more about Applicant experience in this Whitepaper from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (PDF).

Face validity
In the recruitment context, face validity describes how far applicants, recruiters, and hiring managers consider the content of a recruitment instrument (e.g. a psychometric test) as an appropriate measure to predict job performance. See APA Definition.

Predictive Validity
Predictive Validity is especially important in the context of recruitment as it displays the extent to which an assessment can predict outcomes such as job performance or turnover. For instance, cognitive ability assessments have a predictive validity of .65 on job performance. This means that they predict 42 % of an applicant's future job performance. See APA Definition.

If you give the same assessment to the same applicant at different points of time, a high-quality assessment yields similar results. Briefly said this is what psychologists call reliability. See APA Definition.

Test Economy
The economy of a test describes the length of a test relative to the cost of administrating it. A test with a high quality in the test economy asks the number of questions needed to best predict something (e.g. job performance).

Recruitment Metrics

In order to evaluate the quality of recruitment efforts, different metrics can be used. Some of these are listed below.

Time to hire
The time to hire describes the time span between the moment an applicant has first indicated interest in a vacancy until he/she has accepted a job offer. This metric is crucial as long times to hire have a negative impact on applicant experience.

Time to fill
The time to fill equals the number of days it takes from identifying the need for a new hire until the moment a new employee is hired. According to the Society for Human Resource Management the average time to fill was 42 days in 2016.

Cost per hire
In simple words, the cost per hire describes how much a company pays for each hire. Following the American National Standard, it can be calculated by dividing the sum of the external and internal spendings for the hiring procedure by the total number of hires. According to the Society for Human Resource Management the average cost per hire was 4,129$ in 2016.

Quality of hire
The quality of hire is one of the most important metrics for recruitment. In technical terms, the measure compares pre-hire performance expectations with actual performance in a previously defined time frame (ISO 30400:2016). You can increase your quality of hire by using psychometric assessments as a solid foundation for hiring decisions.