Screening In Versus Screening Out: What’s the Difference?

Today’s labor market is demanding with recruiting constantly in flux. With  talented candidates considered a scarce resource, many recruiters are having to evaluate whether screening out or screening in candidates is more important.

Traditionally, screening out, or eliminating candidates because they don’t meet specific criteria, has been the default practice of hiring teams and recruiters. But with recent discussions on how quickly this can decrease the talent pool of incredibly competent candidates, industry leaders are trying a new approach. Let’s take a look at both more closely and determine how to use them to your advantage in a challenging hiring environment.

Screening Out Candidates

There is a time and place for screening out.

  • Physicians need a medical degree.
  • Accountants need CPA certification.
  • Truck drivers need a Commercial Driver’s License.

In some cases, it’s completely necessary to have firm, non-negotiable requirements for your applicants. To waste time on the interview process without them would be a disservice to you and the candidate, so it’s entirely plausible to rule out candidates without these specifications at the application stage.

Pros of Screening Out

There are two occasions where screening out is entirely necessary.

The first is in the search for candidates for a highly technical position as listed above. An ATS can filter out applications without these specific criteria. However, there’s a distinct difference between roles that require specific accreditation and roles that technically don’t require a certain degree or level of education.

The second occasion where screening out is relevant is when a candidate cannot meet the basic needs of the role. If the role would put the candidate’s safety at risk, or they cannot meet the required physical demands of a job, they would likely be disqualified from the position. Likewise, if your role requires the candidate to be in person in California, but they’ve noted that they live in New York and are unwilling to relocate, then disqualifying or screening out a candidate makes sense. As long as your qualifiers aren’t discriminatory, screening out a candidate can be strategic move.

Cons of Screening Out

The biggest downfall to screening out is eliminating qualified candidates using the wrong metrics, which is a common mistake. There’s a difference between not having a commercial driver’s license (which is a requirement by law) and not having a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position.

This is a slippery slope. Unconscious biases can sneak into this process and cause talent acquisition teams to use criteria, such as gender, ethnicity, or other factors irrelevant to the job description to screen candidates. These biases can not only prevent you from finding the best candidates; they stifle innovation, productivity, and employee engagement.

Luckily, there’s an alternative to screening candidates out.

Screening In Candidates

Screening “in” is commonly misunderstood and underused. This process, at its core, is a more inclusive approach to hiring that considers candidates who may bring refreshed experience, enthusiasm, and energy to your organization through their unique experiences.

Screening in versus screening out may simply involve broadening your criteria, such as indicating, “We’re looking for someone with a degree in Public Relations, but will also accept degrees in Journalism or Communications.” Furthermore, you may accept related experience in lieu of a degree altogether.

The screening-in process allows candidates to demonstrate their expertise or provide context to their application that’s often overlooked when hiring teams or recruiters default to screening applicants with two-dimensional criteria.

Perhaps your usual candidates possess a degree in sales, business, or economics. If you limit your search results to only those particular degrees, you are likely to miss out on someone with a degree in engineering who could offer a fresh perspective. If you’re concerned the candidate’s background doesn’t correlate seamlessly to the work at hand, consider a screening question within the application or a screening interview for further clarification and offer the chance for the candidate to illustrate their unique experience.

Screening In Versus Screening Out

The job market is tight and shows very few signs of slowing. There are 10.1 million open jobs and nowhere near enough applicants to fill those openings, making finding talented candidates more competitive than ever.

Companies embracing the screening in approach will benefit from “hidden gem” candidates who may not have the traditional background, but will thrive in the position, nonetheless. Rethinking the conventional criteria in which you screen is often the first step in increasing your quality of hire and meeting hiring goals with diverse candidates.

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