Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Reducing Unqualified Applicants

With unemployment continuing to sit under 5%, some may find it a luxury to have too many applicants for each job posting. But just because there are ample applicants does not necessarily mean there are a lot of people who are actually well qualified for the job. Yet those involved in the hiring process still have to go through all of the applicants somehow to weed out the ones who are unqualified—and that takes time and money.

This problem can be present no matter how many people apply for a given position, whether it’s 5 or 500. If the vast majority are either unqualified or not a good fit, it’s a waste of time and energy to have to assess so many applications that are simply not going to even qualify for an interview.

Having too many applications—such that you cannot give each a personal    response—can even mean the employment brand eventually takes a hit. After all, there are a lot of online resources today where job applicants can share stories of what it’s like to apply for an organization. And if everyone is saying their application never gets a response, it may mean that qualified applicants in the future opt to never apply if they don’t have faith their application will be read.

So, how can recruiters and hiring teams minimize the applications that are such a waste of time?

Tips to Reduce Unwanted Job Applications

Here are a few tips to try to minimize the number of unqualified (and thus unwanted) job applications or to make the screening process more efficient:

  • Be specific about the job requirements. Ensure the job posting is specific enough that the applicants will have a realistic idea what the job is like and what is required to qualify. For example, instead of saying that the individual needs experience in X department or industry, explain that the right candidate will have X experience with ______ (fill in the blank with specific knowledge or accomplishments the individual should have, such as “5 or more years of experience leading a sales team with team sales exceeding $5 million dollars annually.”) This alone can help to reduce applications from people who are not qualified. While this seems obvious on paper, there are still job postings out there that are overly broad or that do not include the required qualification details—and those job posts are likely to get applicants that are in no way qualified. (Note: Be careful to strike the right balance; for example, don’t ask for 10 years of experience if less will do; don’t require a specific level of education unless it is absolutely necessary to perform the job, etc.—going too far can inadvertently exclude candidates who could actually perform the job, which is not only undesirable, it may be discriminatory. Keep a critical eye to ensure that the description is specific enough without excluding people unfairly.)
  • Include information about the working conditions. Being clear and realistic in the job posting about the working conditions can help to weed out anyone who would not be a good fit if he or she is unwilling to accept those conditions. For example, if the job requires frequent overtime or weekend work, say so. If the job must be conducted in any less-than-desirable conditions, say so. There’s no benefit to hiding these facts and then bringing someone on board only to lose him or her shortly thereafter when that new employee becomes frustrated with conditions that could have been anticipated.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll continue this list and give you even more tips to reduce the number of unwanted applicants or to screen them more quickly.