6 Pro Tips To Speed Up Your Applicant Screening Process with AI

January 31, 2024

min read


Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Sorting through a thousand applicants for a single job can be overwhelming. How can you narrow down the search to find the perfect candidate for the job?

When reviewing a substantial number of job applications, it is essential to remember that quantity does not equate to quality. A practical approach to choosing the right individual for the role requires a comprehensive screening process. Employing diverse techniques and approaches is crucial in reducing the number of job candidates. Additionally, leveraging AI and other automated technologies can optimize screening procedures, facilitating a more focused evaluation of the most promising candidates.

This article offers six actionable tips to expedite your applicant screening process through the strategic integration of AI.

What is applicant screening?

Applicant screening is the process of reviewing and evaluating job applications and resumes to determine the most qualified candidates for a particular job. This process typically involves assessing candidates' education, work experience, skills, and qualifications to ascertain if they meet the job requirements. It may also include conducting background checks, contacting references, and conducting interviews further to assess a candidate's suitability for the job. The goal is to identify the most suitable candidates from the pool of resumes and applications while ensuring fairness and diversity.

Comprehensive screening methods go beyond simply reading resumes and provide recruiters with an in-depth evaluation of candidates' abilities. By employing different screening techniques, recruiters gain a better understanding of applicants' qualifications and suitability for the job.

Why is it important to optimize the applicant screening process?

Optimizing the applicant screening process is crucial for several reasons:

Cost-effective talent acquisition strategies

A more efficient and targeted screening approach reduces the resources and time spent reviewing extensive job applications, offering a cost-effective solution for organizations. 

Elevating hiring quality through swift selection

By swiftly identifying and selecting the most qualified candidates, recruiters can make informed decisions that lead to a more skilled and valuable workforce. Bonus points: it can save up to 40% of a recruiter’s time and cut through the 75% of unqualified applicants.

Ensuring a positive applicant experience

An optimized screening process ensures that applicants encounter a user-friendly, efficient process, leaving them with a positive impression of the organization, regardless of the hiring outcome.

Promoting diversity and inclusion through fair evaluations

Optimization promotes diversity and inclusion by ensuring fair and consistent evaluations. By mitigating biases in the screening process, organizations can attract a more diverse pool of applicants.

6 tips to improve your applicant screening process with AI

What steps can you take to ensure that you carry out the candidate screening process in an efficient and effective manner? Here are the top six tips to help you create an organized system for screening job applicants.

Define what ‘good’ looks like

The biggest challenge of hiring for any role is understanding what you are looking for in the first place. Clearly defining your goals from the beginning aligns the entire hiring team, providing a shared understanding of what to look for. It facilitates the creation of excellent job descriptions, attracts the right applicants, and prevents the significant time and headache associated with figuring out the team's preferences mid-cycle. There's nothing worse than screening numerous resumes and scheduling interviews, only to take down the job and repost it after the team clarifies their hiring needs. In this process, it's crucial to identify what you are not looking for or the disqualifying traits in a candidate.

Consider utilizing AI to simplify this process. You can collaborate with Standard Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Claude to receive suggestions on the essential qualities to prioritize when hiring for a role. These models, having analyzed extensive data sets, can offer a baseline applicable across various industries. Alternatively, tools like Searchlight harness AI to provide a clear understanding of the genuine benchmarks for success in a specific role, leveraging accurate quality-of-hire data to eliminate uncertainty and guesswork. A bonus feature of Searchlight is providing the desired qualities to look for and offering interview guides to help assess candidates for those specific qualities.

Write clear and effective job descriptions

Developing an effective applicant filtering process starts with a well-defined job description. To accomplish this, ensure you incorporate all the qualifications for the position, including the requisite educational background, experience, and skills. Additionally, provide a detailed list of job responsibilities to enable applicants to evaluate if they are a good fit for the position. Finally, remember to specify the salary range, allowing candidates to determine if the offer aligns with their expectations.

To effectively streamline this process, it is necessary to first align with the team and establish a clear understanding of the desired qualities in a potential candidate. A practical method is to utilize AI tools like ChatGPT to create a high-quality job description. By entering your criteria and providing sample job descriptions, the AI improves its understanding of your preferences. However, it is crucial not to trust AI-generated content blindly and to incorporate a human element to ensure the success of this essential step.

Find the most qualified applicants

As the use of AI becomes more prevalent in the job market, candidates are also relying on it to secure employment opportunities. This may result in a certain uniformity in resumes and cover letters. How can you differentiate exceptional candidates from the average ones?

While it is possible to review numerous applications and resumes manually, this method may not always result in finding the best candidate. Additionally, reviewing many resumes may favor early applicants rather than the most qualified ones. It can be challenging to sift through so many resumes, and it is important to avoid rushing through it and potentially missing out on the best candidates.

It's time to utilize AI tools to identify the best candidates for each role. Many ATS companies are beginning to integrate Large Language Models (LLMs) into their search filters, a positive step that might meet your needs. However, these tools may still have limitations or be too subjective, relying on each recruiter's style. Imagine being able to convey your preferences to an AI: location, experience, hard skills, and even soft skills. This is where a tool like Searchlight becomes valuable, assisting you in effectively and efficiently screening applicants to find your top picks—and explaining why the AI recommends them.

Run better interviews with good questions and AI support

Developing thought-provoking interview questions is crucial in conducting a successful candidate evaluation. By including a variety of inquiries, such as those focusing on an applicant's work history, hypothetical scenarios, and typical responses to specific situations, hiring managers can gain a thorough understanding of a candidate's qualifications, ability to solve problems, and decision-making abilities. Using the same interview questions for all candidates promotes fairness and allows for an unbiased comparison of their answers, assisting in selecting the most suitable candidate for the position.

Now, that's nothing you haven't heard before. Asking practical questions is vital for gaining an objective understanding of a candidate. Now that you have established the criteria for a "good" candidate for the role, the next step is determining how to evaluate those qualities. AI can be utilized to assist in this process.

Tools like ChatGPT assist in crafting questions that you can share with the hiring panel. Alternatively, if you have utilized Searchlight to outline your criteria for 'good,' you can directly ask the AI to generate a set of interview questions. These questions allow you to determine whether interviewees meet the criteria and have the traits you seek. They are rooted in decades of industrial-organizational psychology research and insights from hundreds of thousands of post-hire outcomes, helping you find the right fit.

It’s also worth checking out tools like Metaview that can take notes and summarize interviews for the hiring panel so you can focus your time on high-quality candidate engagements instead of furiously taking notes.

Assess candidate soft skills and cultural alignment early

It's surprising that we only use brief interviews. Instead of relying solely on short interviews to determine the ideal candidate, we can go further by asking the right questions. About 89% of mis-hires result from a lack of cultural fit, often involving soft skills. While we have become adept at evaluating a candidate's technical abilities, we struggle (and are influenced by our own biases) to recognize their soft skills and alignment with our culture. With the help of AI, that no longer needs to be the case.

As mentioned above, Searchlight specializes in helping you recognize and evaluate a candidate's interpersonal abilities, approach to work, and individual characteristics. You can utilize this knowledge to enhance your current interviews.

Rather than relying on individual interviewers to dig into their expertise and trust their judgment, you could proactively provide information about where this candidate is expected to excel and where they may have weaknesses. This would allow interviews to be tailored towards specific areas to test for skill competencies or challenge areas of weakness and see how the candidate addresses them. Beyond that, this information can provide a hiring manager with critical insights to understand whether they can effectively support the new hire. This is a game changer in making good hires and improving the applicant screening process.

Conduct reference checks—but not how you think

Cue the collective eye roll at the thought of having to do reference checks. Although they may not be as popular as they once were, they are still crucial for verifying a person's identity. In fact, it is legally required to conduct reference checks in many cases. Unfortunately, reference checks are often undertaken too late in the hiring process. Additionally, it is doubtful that anyone would provide a negative reference. So, how can we make this process more efficient and less time-consuming?

With Automation and AI assistance.

Bet the answer doesn't come as a surprise. There are numerous helpful resources for simplifying the process of conducting reference checks. However, Searchlight Reference Checks stands out for its ability to provide detailed behavioral insights on a potential candidate and a hiring recommendation. With this tool, you can conduct more thorough and efficient reference checks, making them a valuable use of time instead of a pointless one.

What happens after applicant filtering?

After the initial filtering process, companies usually employ different screening methods to select candidates for the interview stage. Depending on the company's preference, a specific group of applicants may receive invitations for in-person, group, or panel interviews.

Though valuable for relationship-building, traditional interviews should constitute only a small segment of the hiring process. These interviews come after skills verification, aiming to delve deeper into a candidate's alignment with company values and motivations. However, a lengthy screening process and multiple interviews can be cumbersome for candidates and recruiting teams.

An AI solution, such as Searchlight, can help streamline interview processes by providing thorough evaluations. Arming your recruiters with more information ahead of time can help them craft questions specifically tailored to the individual candidate, as opposed to more 'boilerplate' questions.

Start hiring smarter with Searchlight today!

Searchlight represents a transformative approach to talent acquisition, ensuring every hiring decision is a resounding win-win for organizations and candidates. Our commitment is deeply rooted in instilling confidence through informed talent decisions, recognizing the alignment both parties deserve. We envision a world where individuals forge deeper connections with their work, purpose, and passions.

At Searchlight, we aim to revolutionize hiring by creating advanced talent software and setting a new industry standard. Our approach involves an in-depth understanding of individuals through data, empowering companies to make more informed and strategic hiring choices.

Begin your journey toward more innovative hiring today with Searchlight's AI recruitment software. Unlock the potential to connect with individuals who resonate with your organization's values and goals. Elevate your hiring experience and cultivate a workplace where people thrive.

Get in touch with us and embrace the future of talent acquisition with Searchlight, where innovation meets intuitive decision-making.


Q1: How can I ensure a positive applicant experience during screening?

A1: Creating a transparent and user-friendly screening process stimulates a positive impression of the organization, which is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent.

Q2: Are there different screening methods for assessing specific skills required for a role?

A2: Tailoring assessments to match the unique demands of each position ensures candidates are evaluated based on the specific skills essential to the role.

Q3: What sets Searchlight apart in the world of talent acquisition?

A3: Searchlight offers transformative talent software that ensures every hiring decision is a win-win for both organizations and candidates. The commitment to informed talent decisions and a holistic understanding of individuals through data distinguishes Searchlight.

Q4: How does Searchlight contribute to smarter hiring?

A4: Searchlight's recruitment software leverages AI for streamlined processes, unlocking connections with individuals aligned with organizational values and elevating the hiring experience.

Q5: Is Searchlight suitable for businesses of all sizes?

A5: Absolutely! Searchlight offers solutions designed to scale with the hiring needs of both small enterprises and large corporations.

Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Head of Marketing

Bhargav, our Head of Marketing, blends storytelling and customer empathy to drive business growth. Special flair for bringing new products to market.

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