Screening applicants - Sales Management

Screening applicants is the process of comparing the various candidates for a position with the qualities, skills and experience judged necessary to fulfil the job functions satisfactorily. The usual screening stages are:

  • issue job application forms
  • study (screen) completed application forms, comparing them against the person specification
  • reject unsuitable applicants (usually by letter)
  • invite most suitable applicants to interviews.

Normally the first stage in the applicant screening process is to provide applicants with a job application form. The advantage of using a job application form is that all the basic information you require in deciding who to invite for interview, or what to pursue during the interview, is presented in a standard format, which saves you time hunting for relevant information.

The alternative to asking for the completion of job application forms is to request the submission of a personally prepared curriculum vitae. Study the completed application forms, and invite the most suitable applicants for an interview,allocating time exclusively to the interviewing process.

In studying completed application forms it is normal to look at factors such as those listed below, and judge how these match your requirements.

  • Applicant home location in relation to the job location
  • Holding a clean current driving licence
  • Age in relation to specified range
  • Relevance of job experience
  • Any evidence of formal training in selling skills
  • Relevance of vocational education and professional qualifications
  • Educational standards and achievements
  • Comparison of educational achievement sand job progression with successful company salespersons
  • Health conditions (poor health is negative factor, obviously)
  • Personality and disposition
  • Personal hobbies and interests
  • Achievement relative to peer group norms
  • Motivation and potential.

At the pre-interview stage of screening job application forms you should really be concentrating on objective criteria and trying to avoid rejecting applications for emotional or subjective reasons. As a rule you cannot attach much importance to handwriting or presentation unless it is apparent the applicant lacks sufficient literacy for the job.

The most suitable candidates can be invited to initial interviews either over the telephone or by letter. A rejection letter should be designed to leave rejected applicants(before or after interview) well disposed to the company – they are or might be customers!

Screening applicant interests

While it may be subjective to attach much importance to hobbies and interests prior to an interview, sometimes these can indicate special skills or attributes. For example: an applicant might be a youth group leader, or have intellectual interests such as chess or home computing, or pursue some other interest that indicates something about his or her personality, motivations or abilities.

Interests are particularly useful as an icebreaker in the opening minutes of an interview,and may provide some guidance to candidate’s motivations and disposition.

In the interview you can probe the breadth, depth, pattern, commitment (will the hobby conflict in any way with demands of the job), stability/maturity, skills and knowledgeinvolved,personal motivations to pursue interests, and relevancy of interest to the job. Generally interests may be considered to fall into the broad categories of:

  • social
  • intellectual
  • practical
  • physically active
  • artistic.

Communicating with unsuccessful applicants

As a matter of courtesy and goodwill you should communicate promptly with all unsuccessful candidates who have submitted completed application form. It is important that rejected applicants still maintain a high degree of goodwill to the company as they and their contacts are all potential customers,and a well-conducted recruitment offers another excellent opportunity to promote goodwill for your business in the local community.


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