I’ve known job adverts to attract swarms of applications and I’ve seen others draw a far less impressive response. There are a number of variables that influence the hit rate yet no matter how many or how few job applications find their way onto your desk, shortlisting a group to interview can be a challenge.

An easy to fill role will appeal to the masses and result in piles of never ending I am your ideal candidate scenarios. Nevertheless it will still only require the need to interview a mere three to five applicants. No doubt there will be countless ‘unfortunates’, but the role will be filled quickly by someone who is very competent. If you were looking to fulfil several identical roles, the pool of candidates scheduled for interview would increase proportionally. A more specialised job role, or niche industry, will not generate such rates of interest. And with fewer applicants to choose from, chances are you will have a smaller number of quality candidates raising their hand to work for you. Up to seventy-five percent of applicants can be unqualified for the role on offer…I think I just heard a collective groan from all the knowing employment recruiters out there…so the task of generating the right pool of applicants is imperative to a productive recruitment process.

Quality is the key word when it comes to selecting candidates to interview. Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts states that only the top 2 percent of candidates make it to the interview. Wow. A frightening statistic for the job seekers out there! Particularly in light of the fact that sooo many vacant roles attract a high number of applications. Attracting quality though is not a given simply because you have told the market you are hiring. Traditionally recruiters advertise a role with a position description, receive a bunch of resumes, sift through those resumes and then interview candidates to determine if they have the skills and capabilities required to carry out the job to a high degree. If the candidate fails to fit the criteria, your valuable time spent interviewing has been wasted. One less interview you could have conducted if your recruitment strategy focused on attracting quality rather than quantity. A smart hiring manager may conduct five minute phone interviews, maybe ten to twenty, if they’re having difficulties defining a face-to-face interview list of quality potentials.

Asking a candidate to pitch their wares by responding to technical questions and situations will lure capable and committed applicants. Posing scenarios and analysing their solutions will allow the recruiter to understand if the applicant has the necessary skills and capabilities prior to scheduling an interview. You can challenge their claims by introducing relevant tests in the interview stage. This also allows you to compare similar skill sets that are pertinent to the vacant position. Being smarter about how you streamline your filtration of job applicants can save you a lot of time and energy. Very important! We all know how time consuming and expensive recruitment can be, especially if you get it wrong! You need to get it right the first time! That’s a lot of italics and exclamation marks, but I think I make my point?

Naturally your recruitment methods and the type and level of position on offer will influence the number of applications received for the role. And while you can be flexible about how many you invite for an interview, you need to optimise your processes so that you attract top quality prospects. The key is to attract as many applicants as possible that match the key elements of the role, even if there are only a few, it’s better than inviting hoards of the unwelcome. And let’s face it, no one wants to search through a haystack to find a needle. It’s much simpler to go to the shelf and immediately find exactly what you need.

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