5 Ways to Weed Out Unqualified Applicants

Save Time During the Hiring Process by Spotting Red Flags Early

Portrait of a female executive

Find the Right Candidate

Today’s job market is very tight with many more job hunters than available jobs. For businesses, the good news is it’s a buyer’s market. But at the same time, it can be overwhelming to sift through the mountain of resumes flooding your in-box or the resume repository. That’s why you need to have an eagle eye for scoping out the best candidates. Here are some things to look for.

5. Cover Letters

A quality cover letter can tell you a lot about the person who wrote it.

If there are grammar or spelling errors, it shows a lack of attention to detail. Everything comes with spellcheck these days, and if a candidate won’t put the necessary time and effort into applying for the job, it’s a fair bet he/she won’t be any better if hired. Also, make sure the letter highlights experience and credentials that are specific to the position. Did it indicate why they want the position and why they would be a good fit for it specifically? By including this information, it shows they are genuinely interested and they did not come up with a generic letter they’ve also sent out to 50 other employers.

And check out to whom the letter is addressed. If the applicant has taken the time to research and learn the hiring manager’s name then that’s a good sign that you have a candidate who is detail-oriented and will go the extra mile, compared to the people using “To Whom This May Concern.” Finally, if issues are obvious in their resume, it should be addressed in the letter. For example, if there are gaps between jobs they should mention why.

4. Setting Up the Interview

When setting up the interview, do they seem enthusiastic about being selected? If not, then they are probably not too interested in the position. How did they answer the phone? Is their tone of voice appropriate? We’re not saying candidates should do cartwheels just because you called, but if applicants don’t even bother to turn the TV down when you call them or thank you for the opportunity to interview, that could be a red flag.

3. Resumes

A resume that rises above the crowd should have a professional, consistent and organized format. Although the exact number of pages will depend on the industry and specific position, it should be concise and to the point. Look to see if they highlighted accomplishments as opposed to duties. If there are gaps between jobs or education that can’t be readily explained, this could indicate a lack of stability.


2. The Job Interview

The job Interview is where you can really discover that outstanding candidate.

If they’re asking probing and insightful questions of you, that means they’ve likely taken the time to do some research about the company. If so, this indicates they went above and beyond other candidates. They should be aware of the company’s vision or mission statement and have some knowledge on the products and services. Are they familiar with names of the senior management and competitors? When they talk about their strengths, make sure they’re giving you specific examples. Did any of their previous accomplishments save a company time or money?


1. The Little Things

If everything else is equal between candidates, look for the one who goes the extra mile by sending a “thank you” email, or even better, a handwritten card. It shows they are interested and value your time. Sometimes it’s all about the little things.

Finding the right person for the job is half the battle, but then you’ll have to talk compensation.


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