How to Write Job Descriptions Optimized for Job Boards and Internet Search, Tip 1

It can be challenging to write a thorough and compliant job description that will satisfy your human resources and legal departments, while at the same time making it…dare I say…sexy enough to cause potential applicants to click through for more information or to apply for your job. After all, most job seekers won’t just know that your company is hiring and think to go directly to your applicant tracking software careers page; in fact, many will see your job listing for the first time on external job boards or previewed in Google SERPs (search engine results pages). You hope they see your job listings there, that is.

If you use the right techniques to write effective, search-friendly job descriptions, then your target audience of applicants will notice your job listings on search engines and job boards like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. This blog is the first in a series I’m writing about how to find the happy medium between including must-have job content and optimizing your job listings for search. In this post, we’ll begin to cover the strategy behind the actual words you use in your job descriptions, as well as the order in which you place them.

Reorder Your Job Listing Content

Depending on the size of your organization, the frequency of hiring and/or the brand association with your company name, you may regularly include an “about us” or company overview paragraph in each of your job descriptions. This can be especially true of companies that are a little smaller or less well-known, and is often an area used to showcase the basic info about the product or service of the organization, as well as some commentary about the company culture. Here’s an example:
 Job Description with Company Overview
So while this overview section is often placed at the beginning of a job description, that placement might actually be hampering this job listing’s click-through rate (CTR) from certain sets of search results. For example, search engines will display the first 160 or so characters of a page’s body text (unless a specific meta description has been designated by your webmaster for that page). In the case of the above job description, we see in the Google search results highlighted below that the text displayed is the company overview section – because it was at the beginning of the job description.
 Company Overview Section - Google SERPs
For some of your applicants this may not be a big deal, but others will move on to the next search result for a different job that better describes the actual position in the first few lines – this may especially be the case for highly competitive job titles that return many pages of search results.

Examine Search Results Within External Job Boards

So how do the results for this example job listing appear in different job boards?

CareerBuilder Corporate Recruiter Results
Indeed Corporate Recruiter results
As you can see, results vary from one board to the next. For example, on CareerBuilder the company overview header is squished ahead of part of the body text. On Indeed, the first few lines of the “Position Overview” section of the job listing are displayed. While this is actually the best scenario because that section should have all the meat, I’m not sure that the most compelling information to attract candidates is the fact that the applicant would be supporting a certain office.

So, why take a gamble on what information will appear in search results for your job listings? Instead, keep the company overview section – but put it at the end of your job listing. Then, write an engaging first sentence that restates your job title and includes relevant keywords to grab the attention of potential applicants as they scan through hundreds of similarly named job title search results. Stay tuned for future blogs in this series discussing keyword use and job titles.

Interested in learning how ExactHire’s applicant tracking software can help optimize your job listings for search? Contact us today to schedule a live demo.

Tips for Hiring Your Next Bean Counter

You know from my first blog that I am the resident “bean counter” at ExactHire – but I honestly feel that the accountant of each organization is important! ExactHire found this out first hand recently when their longtime office manager and accountant decided to switch careers. Have you ever wondered why you need someone in this type of position? If you only have two weeks to find a replacement, do you know how to get a hold of the right accountant? What questions do you ask to make sure you choose the correct applicant? I will answer these questions from the accountant’s point of view, and offer some tips on how to fine-tune your hiring process and better customize your applicant tracking system to automatically highlight the “best of the bean counter” applicants!

Why does your company need an accountant?

An accounting professional does more than just taxes, and we do work beyond just the weeks leading up to April 15th. Of course handling taxes is part of the job, but that is not enough to keep us accountants busy all year round. Other duties, especially at smaller companies, include:

  • Financial planning and management (i.e. budgets!)
    • Having the ability to analyze past information, look to the future, work with others and problem solve is key
  • Month end financial preparations
    • Having the ability to meet deadlines, be accurate and have confidence in your analysis of the numbers so that you may explain the financial statements clearly to upper level management
  • And, if you are in manufacturing, you cannot forget the dreaded inventory process
    • Having the ability to get more involved with the operations of the business, engage in teamwork and consistently be accurate are essential requirements

Staying up on tax code can be difficult, so having the properly trained accountant with the right technical knowledge is imperative. All candidates should undergo pre-employment testing by taking employee assessments that focus on job skills – in areas such as accounting and finance knowledge and/or accounting software proficiency. Knowing what specific competencies are required for your individual business will help you narrow down your search as you consider assessment tools.

Also, have an idea of what type of individual will fit in best with your company culture. Accountants are renowned to be dull and dreary but take my word for it, some of us are actually fun to be around – make sure you know who you want in your organization in terms of behavioral traits.

How do you find the right accountant?

Surprise! There are actually lots of different specialties in accounting. Therefore, one will be a better fit for your business than the others. The most well-known type is a CPA or certified public accountant. Another is a corporate accountant (or controller), and is the person who handles all the bookkeeping and financial decisions of the company.

Essential Job Requirements

Ask yourself, what are the needs of my company with this position? If a lot of tax work is required, it might be important to require the applicants to have their CPA designation. If it’s a manufacturing job, they need to know about inventory, work in process and lead times. Each industry is going to require a different kind of specialty or past experience. So, do your homework and then structure your web-based employment application, including job-specific screening questions, so that it uncovers whether applicants possess the right experience.

Candidate Referrals

Ask those professionals around you if they can refer anyone in their networks that might be a good fit for your company. Also, there are numerous staffing firms that focus only on candidates with financial experience. They may have an applicant for you, or be able to assist you in figuring out your needs. If your company uses applicant tracking software, it should be easy to integrate with various external job boards, some of which might focus on accounting professional jobs.

Optimize Job Descriptions for Search

When advertising for a position, think about the job description. Is it accurate? Does it convey your organization’s culture properly and also highlight key job requirements?

Plus, take a close look at the keywords you sprinkle in throughout the job description – are they the same phrases that a candidate is likely to use when searching for your position on external job boards? For example, a job posting for an accounting person in a manufacturing distribution center should be advertised with a slightly different title than an accounting person in a law firm. Here are some examples of other keyword-related content to consider including in your job descriptions and/or job titles to ensure that candidates have an accurate expectation of your available positions, and to make it easier for them to find your career opportunities when doing searches on the internet:

  • private vs. public company (i.e. Sarbanes-Oxley requirements demonstrate just one difference)
  • small vs. large organization
  • nonprofit vs. for-profit sector
  • tax vs. audit position
  • financial analyst vs. internal audit, etc.

Make sure your position is being viewed by the correct audience.

What questions do you ask the applicant?

You certainly want to include both yes/no and multiple choice type-questions in your application process to quickly screen applicants in or out based on their qualifications for your basic essential job requirements. This process can be made especially efficient using automatic scoring and/or disqualification filters with the screening questions in your applicant tracking software.

However, asking a candidate to describe his/her past on-the-job experiences (in a narrative whether on the application or in an interview) is key because the best predictor of future success is often past behavior. You need to get a good feeling for whether the candidate’s previous business environment has equipped him/her to have the potential for success in your own organization’s culture and environment, as well. Here are some potential questions for you:

  • What industries have you worked in? What was your favorite and why?
    • This helps you find out some of their strengths and if they will be a good fit for your business.
  • Did you manage others? And then, pepper in follow-up questions such as…How many others were involved? What is the most difficult part of management? What is the most rewarding?
    • Again, it’s great to dig deeper to find out strengths and weaknesses, without directly asking candidates for it.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to help improve a work procedure… what led to this change?
    • You may need an applicant that takes charge and is an efficient worker. It’s interesting to see how quickly a new employee adjusts to the demands of his/her environment.
  • Tell me about a recent time when you worked in a group? What did you find difficult about this? What aspect was easy?
    • This is especially important in small businesses.
  • Do you handle deadlines well?
    • Most accountants are sticklers for organization and timeliness, but it never hurts to find out more about how they respond to stress or office pressure.

Obviously you want to know more about a candidate’s background, and everyone has his/her favorite questions to ask in an interview. You may also do reference calls or background checks on the candidate, depending on the details of the role. You need to feel extremely comfortable about your decision when picking the person that handles your finances. It can also be helpful to have your applicants take a behavioral assessment so you can see how their personality and behavioral traits will fit into your organization and into the role.

Bean Counting at ExactHire

When I came to my first interview at ExactHire, the interviewer (now, my boss) looked straight at me and said “You won’t be the person who gets this job long term. I just need someone in here now.” He was in a pinch and needed an accounting person… he found me from a local staffing firm. I took that challenge and worked hard to prove that statement wrong. I am very outgoing, not the normal “dull accountant,” but I love numbers, it’s easy for me and I loved the challenge of a small company. There are many hats to wear beyond just numbers (I am helping with the company blog after all!).


And here I am today, a full-time employee with ExactHire. My boss knows that it’s a good fit for everyone because of my past experience, what he learned about me from my cognitive and behavioral assessment results, and the work I’ve done so far. Some organizations may prefer to have a quiet accountant who does not worry about any other aspect of the company than the finances. That works great for a larger company, but small companies require “team” players. Your accounting professional is an essential piece to any successful business, regardless of the size. Make them part of the team and keep all departments working well together…. Bean counters have feelings too!


Make Your Hiring Process Friendly for Applicants

I’ve read a number of articles over the past few months about how impersonal and cumbersome the hiring process is for most employers. Given the space we operate in, we pay particular attention to those comments, as those same comments may apply to our clients and their applicants.
The underlying issues for these opinions appear to stem from two things:

  1. Applicants not hearing back from employers after they’ve submitted an application or resume
  2. Employers making the application submittal process more difficult than it needs to be

Keep in mind — these are viewpoints shared by applicants…not by me.

Keep Applicants in the Loop

Because we specialize in paperless HR solutions (especially applicant tracking software for the purposes of this discussion), addressing the first issue is pretty easy to do. Most any reputable online application software tool will allow you to automate the process of keeping applicants in the loop regarding current job openings. While there are many ways to do this, the end result should typically be the same. That is, applicants know where they stand and what to expect next in the process as it evolves. This protects your employment brand and will more readily ensure that good applicants, while perhaps not hired initially, will continue to follow your job opportunities and apply again for relevant openings.

Simplify Application Process Without Sacrificing Candidate Data

As you look at addressing the second issue, the answer may not be quite so apparent. This is true, even if you’ve used an applicant tracking software tool before. Until recently, there were two polar opposite paths that solutions like ours used to remedy this:

  1. Allow applicants to “parse” information from their resume directly into their online application.
    • Advantage: Time savings for applicants and the potential for a quicker, simpler user experience from their perspective
    • Disadvantage: Frequency of error in terms of information from the resume being pasted into the wrong section of the online application
  1. Require applicants to complete a full online application to be considered for a given position.
    • Advantage: Applicants have the opportunity to try to differentiate themselves with answers to questions on the application unique to that opening
    • Disadvantage: It can take more time than applicants are willing to spend

Then our team came up with a third option — one that more closely resembles the sequence of events in most hiring processes. This unique, two-step application process seems to resonate well with both applicants and employers. Here’s how it works:

  • Once applicants select the position for which they’d like to be considered, they are prompted for some very basic information. While this is customizable by client, the information typically consists of name, address, phone, email, resume upload, and some basic job-specific screening questions. For most applicants, they are able to complete this sequence in less than five minutes.
  • The employer may then use the results of the screening questions to determine which candidates meet the basic requirements of the position.
  • For those who do, the employer may generate an email, with only one click, to invite those qualified applicants back for the next step in the hiring process.
  • Since the applicants who receive this email know they are being considered more seriously for the position, the request is seen as a natural progression in the hiring process.

As you can see, this follows how most organizations hire today. Instead of forcing them (or their applicants) to change anything dramatically, we’re simply using our technology to move them toward a paperless HR environment…without worrying about losing passive applicants who will not take the time to complete a lengthy application at the onset of the selection process.
If you’d like to learn more about our applicant tracking software’s two-step employment application feature, please contact us.


Eleven Small Steps to Improve Your Recruitment Brand and Engage Applicants

Let me start off by saying that this blog is not about high-level recruitment strategy or your master plan for world recruiting domination. This piece is about sweating the small stuff in talent acquisition – specifically, raising the bar on employer recruiting etiquette…dotting all of your i’s and crossing your t’s. Especially, if your organization has been doing alright in getting decent candidates in a reasonable amount of time, but now wants to refocus, shape up and really win the applicants over in order to consistently pick from the cream of the candidate crop.

Try making these little adjustments throughout your selection and hiring processes and see how it impacts your candidates’ perception of your employer recruitment brand:

#11 – Make being responsive to candidates a priority

How often do you fall into the trap of telling a candidate that you will be in touch again no later than the end of the following week…and then it’s really three weeks before you get back to the candidate, or worse yet – never? It would not be acceptable for a candidate to get back to you far later than the date promised, so it should not be okay for you to dally on your end either. While being timely and responsive to candidates seems like it should be automatic; unfortunately, in my experiences this is not the case the majority of the time.

And while life happens and schedules do get pushed, it is completely fine to touch base with the candidate by the promised date just to let him/her know that the process has been delayed and that you will be back in touch by a certain future date – but that you are still interested in his/her candidacy. This is a good time to make sure the candidate is still available despite the new, pushed off deadline, as well.

#10 – Create an FAQ page on your applicant tracking software portal

While this one is certainly going to help support the idea that your employment brand conveys helpfulness and transparency, it is also selfish since it helps to cut down on the number of applicant questions you may receive during the hiring process – and that helps you save time and process employment applications more quickly. You’ve probably already thought of some frequently asked questions that you receive from candidates since you started reading this paragraph, but just in case, here are some ideas (some will be more relevant than others depending on your industry and position types sourced):

  • Do you have both part-time and full-time positions available?
  • Can I apply in person?
  • How long will my application remain in the database? How often should I update it?
  • Do I have to submit a new application each time I apply for a position?
  • How long will it take before I can expect a call to schedule an interview?
  • Do you have internships available?
  • Do you accept applications year-round for certain positions?
  • How many stages are typically involved in your interviewing process?
  • What is your policy on using social media to connect with applicants?
  • Will I receive a confirmation once I submit my application?

Add a page to your applicant tracking software (ATS) site for your own company’s frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the recruiting process.

#9 – Create a careers blog for your company

Kick number nine on the list up a notch by having a regular blog devoted to all things related to careers at your company. Invite your recruiters and hiring managers to periodically contribute content that would be helpful for your applicants and encourage applicants to subscribe to your careers blog RSS feed so they get the latest updates. You could accomplish this by inviting past applicants to subscribe to the blog by posting it in your status updates on various social media sites or embedding its URL into an email message sent out of your recruiting software portal. Here are some ideas for relevant topics:

  • As you create job success factor summaries (spoiler alert – see #2 on the list below), post them to the blog and encourage subscribers to ask questions about positions
  • Invite current employees to blog about what they like about their role and encourage them to be candid about what’s challenging in the job, as well
  • Blog about upcoming job fairs where your company will have a booth
  • Embed videos of company cultural events in the blog (corporate challenges, holiday pitch-ins, trade show exhibits, etc.)
  • Offer tips on how to best prepare to interview and/or where to find out the latest and greatest about your organization’s milestones

#8 – Be truly prepared to interview your candidates

Magnifying glass on applicantThe best potential hires will take time to research your organization before their first interview, and often, before they even apply to a position. As a recruiter, you can always tell who did their homework based on the answers to your questions or comments they make in the interview. Don’t disappoint your interviewees by failing to return the favor of preparing to interview them, as well. Your best applicants may quickly disengage from the process when recruiters have to fumble around during the phone interview and take time to read the candidate’s resume and application to get up to speed because the recruiter failed to do so before the interview began.

#7 – Get a little more personal with your rejections (breaking up is hard to do)

Given the volume of recruiting you may do for your organization, it is very possibly not in the cards for you to send a custom, individualized rejection letter or email to every single applicant who does not make the cut. However, hiring technology at least affords you the opportunity to send mass emails using custom email templates. Instead of having one generic “no thank you” email template that is sent to every applicant that is declined, you may at least have a few different rejection email templates. Here are some simple solutions to being a little less generic:

  • Have different templates for the different stages at which someone is removed from the process (i.e. decline after initial phone screen, decline after 1st in-house, decline after final round of candidates, etc.)
  • A template that lets them down easily and encourages them to apply again in the future vs. one that specifically omits mention of encouragement to apply for future positions
  • A template that discloses that the reason one was not selected is because the position was put on hold or filled internally (at least the candidate then knows that you didn’t reject due to qualifications or experience…but rather because the employer’s plans changed)

#6 – Impress your finalists and keep them close even if they aren’t selected

Help finalists network elsewhereChances are, if you are following the other recommendations in this list, you will start to see even better candidates – especially in the final stage of your selection process for various positions. This is a great situation, but it will make the final decision harder since you’ll be choosing from among “A players.” Make a lasting impression on the final interviewees who aren’t selected by offering to not only stay connected with them (i.e. via LinkedIn, Twitter, automated job alerts, etc.), but also to encourage them to use you as a networking resource to help them get their foot in the door at other organizations.

Obviously, this really only makes sense if these candidates aren’t a fit for any other positions you may have open in the near future – you wouldn’t want to willingly compete with other employers for these applicants. Candidates are bound to have a positive impression of your organization (despite being declined) if you are sincerely interested in helping them find the right job fit elsewhere. The best part about this plan is that they will likely tell their other contacts about your company going the extra mile…and those contacts might be your next dream applicants for tomorrow’s openings.

#5 – Don’t underestimate the power of pictures and video

This isn’t the most innovative item on the list, but despite that, it is often not played up as much as it could be on employers’ careers sites. While you may at least have a company LinkedIn and Facebook page by now, are you keeping it up to date with engaging pictures and video streams of employees loving their work? Here are some quick ideas:

  • Embed pictures within the actual job listings on your recruiting software site. If your Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application supports HTML when uploading job listings, then you may insert images.
  • Include pictures of current employees with testimonials about working for your organization. Better yet, embed videos on your careers site (possibly your Careers Blog a la item #8) with employees talking about what to expect when working at your company. Have your videos available on a company YouTube channel, as well.
  • Include a link to a picture map of your office location when using email templates to invite applicants to schedule in-house interviews.

#4 – Proactively follow-up with previous applicants in your current pool of candidates

There are many reasons why some people in your current candidate pool (i.e. people who have previously submitted an application to your site) may not be the best fit for your current job opportunities. However, they may be a fit a month, six months, or a year down the road. Don’t expect them to consistently reach out to you in the future, but put timing on your side by:

  • periodically reaching out to them by emailing newsletters or press releases about significant company developments;
  • making sure they are subscribed to your automated job alerts so that they receive notice any time you post a new job;
  • sending your top passive candidates a personal note every so many months to stay in touch

Consider running an applicant referral bonus program so that your previous applicants can earn rewards for referring their friends to other open positions. While the applicants probably wouldn’t refer friends to positions for which they are being considered, odds are there are plenty of other opportunities in other departments that might be a fit for a friend. If their referral is hired, then candidates could receive a small gift card. This program helps you save money and time on recruiting costs, but it also spreads good will among your passive candidates and helps you virally spread the word about your job opportunities to a wider audience.

#3 – Survey your applicants for input on how to improve your recruiting process

Survey your applicants for inputThis one isn’t for the faint of heart as you are opening the floodgates for potential negative comments – but this is all about improving, right? A baby step for this option would be surveying your newly hired employees to find out what they liked/disliked about their recruiting experience.

However, if you really want to find out how to polish your employment brand’s reputation, then you might consider soliciting feedback from applicants who were not selected for positions, as well. Many candidates will not choose to participate since you didn’t select them; however, you may be surprised at the reaction you get from those who wish to remain engaged with your company and are therefore willing to participate. On the other end of the spectrum, if anyone by chance has an awful experience with your recruiting process (i.e. poor expectations set, late interviewers, lack of follow-up, etc.), they may be all too willing to tell you about it. You want this feedback so that you are aware of problems and can enact change – as well as report back on improvements.

If you’d like to offer an incentive for individuals to respond, depending on your industry, you may be able to offer some benefit to those who participate in the survey. For example, a restaurant, convenience store chain or retailer might offer a link to a coupon to applicants who complete the survey.

#2 – REALLY set expectations for candidates with job success factors sheet

Link to Job Success FactorsIs it enough to just create a comprehensive job description for the position noting all of the essential job requirements (with percentage of time spent on each duty allocated), qualifications and even workplace hazards chart? Maybe not. While it is important to have this unabridged version of the job description, as well as the more concise job posting description in circulation, take the opportunity to illustrate to candidates what it looks like to be successful in the role…after six months or a year, for example. What happens during a typical day/week? What will the candidate have accomplished or be working on independently in order for your organization to call him/her an “A Player” or a top 10% hire?

Make this sheet available to all candidates at the point of application by simply linking to it within the body of the job description. That way, truly interested applicants may take the time to download the document and get a better sense for the position, company culture. Applicants with the best potential job fit will become even more engaged and others will simply self-select out of the process after understanding more of the demands of the position. Here’s an example of a success factors description I put together for a position we hired earlier this year.

And #1… Create an up-front-contract about hiring process milestones and then deliver!

You may not always know exactly how many steps each positions’ selection process will have at the onset of initial interviews, but you should at least have a general idea. Stand out from the rest of your employer competitors by being upfront with applicants and bringing a sense of transparency to your hiring process. The best part about this list item is that it’s super easy!

All you have to do is give candidates expectations about how many steps are involved in the hiring process, what they are and how long you expect it to take to proceed through each section of the hiring funnel. And if your process isn’t set in stone, that’s okay, just tell them that’s the case but promise to keep them apprised of any changes to the details of the interviewing process.

Outline this process to candidates during the first interview (often, a phone screen) or even earlier by including it in any emails sent to the candidate to request that an initial interview be scheduled. The good part about speaking to candidates about your interviewing process details is that you can receive their immediate response as to whether or not they anticipate being able to participate in a process that takes the length of time that yours may require. If they can’t, no worries – you haven’t wasted your time or their time by conducting an initial interview. Candidates are more likely to be candid with you if you are candid with them.

Do you have other suggestions on how employers can improve their etiquette during the hiring selection process? Please comment and share your ideas! For more information about how our organization can help you leverage technology to improve your recruitment brand, please contact ExactHire.

Unique Job Specific Screening Questions Part 2 – Nonprofit Leadership

For those of you who read my first Unique Job Specific Screening Questions blog, then you know that many of the deal-breaker and essay questions sampled in this piece are especially common to high-volume positions for which one may recruit frequently. But what about your organization’s leadership roles? While you may not be creating these types of job listings in your applicant tracking software very often, it is still critical to identify the make-it-or-break-it questions for these high-level positions, as well.

In this follow-up, we’ll focus on the nonprofit industry. Easy-to-assign screener questions are just one of the many benefits available to not-for-profits that use technology to go paperless. A special thank you goes to Bryan Orander, Founder and President at Indianapolis-based Charitable Advisors, for sharing some of his preferred job-specific screening questions for certain key leadership roles in the nonprofit arena.

Download our hiring process questions guide

First Executive Director Screening Questions

  1. Tell us about your experience working with a nonprofit board of directors to help them add meaningful value to the organization and the relationship you strive to create with the board.
  2. Tell us about your experience and success in building relationships for fund development that could apply to this position.
  3. Based on either your personal knowledge of our service area or your research, what do you see as some of the greatest opportunities in our service area?
  4. Tell us about how you have exhibited the skills that will be needed as the First Executive Director of this organization. Consider that you would be wearing many hats and expected to work frequently at the community visioning level; and, that you would be hands-on with people, projects and paperwork while you work to grow the organization and build a staff team.
  5. Tell us about your experience in engaging businesses and neighbors in efforts to benefit their community…ideally, in a multicultural setting.

President Screening Questions

  1. Describe what you feel are the essential components of successful fundraising.
  2. Describe your most significant accomplishment.
  3. Provide an example of how you have taken on a leadership role to make our community a better place to live.
  4. What role could or should our organization play in making our community a world class place to live, and what initial steps would you take to make that happen?

Executive Director/CEO Screening Questions

  1. What fundraising approaches would you see as most important to an organization like ours, and how have you used them successfully?
  2. Describe how you have successfully engaged board members in sharing your organization’s story and taking ownership for raising funds.
  3. The Executive Director/CEO will be leading the Board’s evaluation of the organization’s current name and brand identity. Tell us how you would approach conducting such an evaluation.

If you would like to share your own ideas for screening questions for leadership positions – in any industry – please comment on this blog. We can certainly all greatly benefit from our combined collective knowledge of hiring and selection tips. For more specific information about how to leverage job-specific screening questions in your own selection process, please contact ExactHire to learn about our applicant tracking software options.

Download our hiring process questions guide

Unique Job Specific Screening Questions

Around here, we sometimes call the unique job specific screening questions available in our applicant tracking software portal the “deal-breaker” questions. You may attach these questions to individual job postings in order to gather more objective information about applicants up front. In turn, the Screening Questions Reports allow you to quickly compare applicants’ answers to one another and change status codes on the fly. This saves a lot of time as you don’t need to view the entire applicant record if an applicant has already answered a deal-breaker question in such a way that he/she removes him/herself from consideration for a position by failing to meet basic requirements.

But job-specific screening questions are also a great place to feature thought-provoking essay-type questions so that you may better understand an applicant’s motivation, inspiration and passion.

Here are some questions worth noticing from both categories. Maybe you’ll feel inspired to use some of them in your own job listings…

Download our hiring process questions guide

Deal-Breaker Screening Questions

  1. What is the current expiration date of your [insert license/certification here]?
  2. How many years of experience do you have in [insert desired field/discipline]?
  3. Please list your salary history and minimum salary requirement.
  4. What is the maximum number of employees that you have supervised in a job?
  5. Are you experienced in administering performance evaluations?
  6. Have you ever terminated an employee?
  7. Do you have any experience using Excel for [insert desired activity…i.e. financial reporting]?
  8. The work schedule for this position is generally 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Will this schedule work for you?
  9. Do you have experience using a cash register and/or handling cash?
  10. Please mark all locations at which you are interested in applying.
  11. I am aware that the company may require a drug test as part of the hiring process. Y/N.
  12. Mark all languages in which you are either conversational or fluent.
  13. Do you have a valid CDL?
  14. Mark all the software applications in which you are proficient.
  15. What machine equipment are you able to operate?

Essay Screening Questions

  1. What do you feel is the most difficult part of customer service?
  2. Share a difficult issue you have had to confront with an employee and how you resolved it.
  3. Describe your level of experience with third party audits and/or governmental agencies.
  4. Think of a time when you knew a co-worker was taking shortcuts that you knew would impact quality negatively. What did you do?
  5. What volunteer work have you done that has prepared you for this position? Why do you feel it was of value?
  6. Imagine you were in a job where you had the opportunity to do what you do best every day. How are you spending most of your time? What results are you generating?
  7. What are your learning goals? What particular skills do you want to learn? What specific challenges do you want to experience?
  8. What is the most dangerous aspect of your current job? How do you manage the risk?
  9. What are some things you would like to avoid in a job?
  10. What is the best feedback you have ever received from a supervisor? What made it so good?
  11. Please list the top 3 things that are most important to you in considering new employment.
  12. In what kind of culture and environment do you do your best work?
  13. What really productive partnerships or mentors have you had? What was it about these relationships that made them work so well for you? What did you contribute to these relationships?
  14. What are your favorite screening questions to use when narrowing your field of applicants? Please let us know with your comments.
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Image credit: Question! by Stefan Baudy (contact)