What is screening in IT recruitment and how has it changed over the years?

What is screening in IT recruitment and how has it changed over the years? itMatch Blog Post

Published: July 3, 2024 by itMatch

What is screening in IT recruitment?

Screening in recruitment is an initial conversation between a recruiter and a candidate. It can take the form of a conversation via email or Linkedin as well as a phone call. The primary purpose of screening is to determine the needs and requirements of both sides of the recruitment process.

In 10-20 minutes, the recruiter should pick out the candidate's willingness to accept an offer of employment, make an initial evaluation of their skill level and learn more about their previous professional experience. On the other hand, this is also the first opportunity to establish a thread of understanding and take care of the candidate's experience.

At the same time, and perhaps most importantly, the candidate can inquire about potentially relevant details, such as the planned date of cooperation, salary ranges, the possibility of a B2B contract or a partially remote model. The organization of the recruitment process itself can also be quite important - many candidates do not want to apply to companies that stretch the verification of specialists' competence over many weeks.

What should recruitment screening look like?

As a general rule, the key is effectiveness, not form. In our experience, however, conversations most often take place through the phone, although it is worth noting that a meeting using Google Meet, Teams or other similar applications may work a tad better. This is due, of course, to the ability to make eye contact. Phone calls are much easier to plan and conduct, as they do not require a good internet connection and the use of a camera, but there are some people who have difficulties with this form of communication. Keep in mind that for screening to be effective, it must take place on terms that are comfortable for both the recruiter and the candidate.

In our opinion, candidates feel much more confident when they prepare a list of questions to ask the recruiter before the interview, and it's a good idea to mention this well in advance. Many people get stressed because of how anxious they are to start a new chapter in their career, which certainly doesn't help them. This also makes it necessary for the recruiter to be understanding and patient - slips of the tongue or losing the thread happen on a daily basis.

The interview can proceed in a variety of ways, but there will almost certainly be questions about the candidate's past experience. A reliable recruiter should ask about the candidate's past responsibilities, challenges and new competencies that he or she has recently acquired. It is also increasingly common to ask questions of a behavioral nature - our clients attach great importance to matching new employees with the values of the organization, resulting in regular mention of such aspects as attitude to duties, commitment to the company or resistance to stress.

What questions should a recruiter ask during screening?

Certainly, there should not be too many questions. Let's remember that screening is not a job interview, but only a preliminary discernment and deepening of knowledge about the candidate. It is definitely worth addressing:

  • the candidate's motivation for changing positions - does the person really want to change employment? Is their main motivation money, for example, or is it inappropriate conditions, such as excessive mental strain?;
  • the candidate's plans and interests - some people, especially at the beginning of their careers, are looking for challenges and lots of new tasks, while professionals with more experience will be more focused on seeking stability and safety;
  • previous work experience - it's worth pulling the candidate's tongue and finding out what technologies he or she has worked with so far. It may turn out that we are dealing with people with higher qualifications than we initially assumed;
  • knowledge about the company to which the candidate is applying - although common sense dictates conducting general research and learning as much as possible about the potential employer, this is not at all obvious. Such insight is important because, thanks to it, the candidate is much better able to assess their own preparation for the position;
  • salary expectations and availability - for recruitments that need to close as soon as possible, the notice period of the candidate's previous contract can be an obstacle. Of course, this is especially true for those who have worked in one place for more than 3 years, but you should always ask about this detail.

As we mentioned, it's also a good idea to ask behavioral questions. Screening is a good time to make sure the candidate will fit the profile of our client's organization. We are seeing an increasing reluctance to work in on-call positions, while a large portion of Generation Z representatives expect good integration with the team and broad inclusiveness of their future workplace.

It happens that a candidate's resume shows that there were breaks in their career. If these are short, we can explain them by going on a distant vacation or looking for a new job, but if we are talking about a year or several months, it is worth gently inquiring about the reason for the whole situation. We often meet people who, after several years in their careers, have decided to take a break from their duties. This is a very healthy approach, but at the stage of the first interview it is worth asking whether the recruited candidate is planning an extended vacation in the near future.

What should a candidate ask during the screening?

Screening should not just be for the recruiter. It's a great time for the candidate as well. Most often, our recruiters are asked about:

  • opportunities to work remotely or a ratio of days in the office to days spent in the home office if hired under a hybrid model;
  • opportunities for promotion and skill development through internal training;
  • the amount of the training budget and range of eligible costs;
  • the scope and value of employee benefits;
  • the possibility of employment in the B2B model - this is especially important for professionals with more experience, whose salaries are higher.

What kind of questions should not be asked during screening?

As a rule, a screening is arranged to reject candidates who do not meet the organization's requirements as early as possible. In our opinion, no recruiter should deliberately cause stress in a candidate, for example, by asking questions of a tricky nature or those designed to catch competence deficiencies. Such behavior definitely does not build a good impression.

We also strongly discourage questions that may concern private life. Although fortunately we encounter this less and less often, it still happens that dishonest recruiters try to find out about possible motherhood or too much about possible career breaks.Let's remember that there should be a clear distinction between the professional sphere and private or family life.

How has IT recruitment screening changed over the past few years?

Since the beginning of itMatch, a lot has really changed in screening. First of all, the very way of sourcing (acquiring) candidate profiles has evolved. Thanks to the widespread use of Linkedin, recruiters have access to a much broader pool of information - in a matter of minutes we can pre-determine a candidate's work experience and knowledge of specific technologies.

Video conferencing has also become more common - even jest before the COVID-19 pandemic, many recruiters primarily used the telephone. In the age of long-distance interviewing, the initial vetting of candidates can proceed much more quickly, as there is no need for office appointments. The use of a camera, in turn, improves the candidate experience - the view of another person facilitates relationship building and "humanizes" the conversation.

Let's also mention the change that has taken place in the mentality, both of candidates and recruiters. The last year, during which we have seen a downturn in the IT industry, has meant that recruiters can spend more time with candidates, and the culture of dialogue itself has clearly improved. Along with the length of the conversations, the detail of them has also increased. There has also been time for the oft-mentioned behavioral questions. As a result, candidates are increasingly matched to the specifics of their future employers.

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