Finding the Right Candidate Screening Software for Applicant Filtering

December 18, 2023

min read


Anna Wang

This guide will share the best recruiting software for applicant filtering and candidate screening.

In 2023, we’ve seen an increased interest in AI recruiting automation to help assess candidates, save time, and make quality hires. Forbes found that simply sorting through applications in an ATS can take up to 40% of a recruiter’s time, despite up to 88% of applicants being unqualified.

Gartner’s State of HR report found that 76% of HR leaders believe that if their organization does not start using AI solutions—such as generative AI—in the next 12 to 24 months, their organizational success will fall behind. AI’s ability to recognize patterns in large datasets and automate manual work makes AI screening tools popular for this use case. However, it’s important to recognize that AI resume filtering is not the only solution for candidate screening.

In this guide, we will show you the benefits of candidate screening software, help you decide if it’s right for your team and organization, and provide you with an overview of a few solutions in the market.

What is candidate screening software?

Candidate screening software helps recruiting teams and hiring managers evaluate their candidates in the hiring process more accurately and quickly.

Candidate screening is a large umbrella category that includes resume screeners, assessments, video interviews, reference checks, and more.

Candidate screening software for applicant filtering, specifically, are tools that focus on helping teams screen candidates at the front of the hiring process to surface the top inbound applicants faster.

What is the business impact of using candidate screening for applicant filtering?

In 2023, we saw a surge in interest around using candidate screening software specifically for applicant filtering. The trend will likely continue in 2024.

The increase in usage of applicant screening software is correlated to the increase in inbound applicant volume and decrease in recruiting capacity. Some teams report receiving hundreds and even thousands of applicants for a single new job opening in a 24 hour period. Across the board, we hear that companies with at least 10 open job postings receive over 1,500 applications per week. The sheer volume of applicants has forced recruiters to close job posts after just a few days so that their teams have time to work through the existing applications.

The main benefits cited by recruiting teams who use applicant filtering software include:

Save recruiter time

  • We hear some recruiters block out at least one hour every day to work through inbound applicants. Applicant screening software can 10x recruiter output and free up time for more strategic initiatives and candidate conversations.

Hit headcount goals without needing additional recruiter capacity

  • When recruiters have more time in their day, they can increase the number of requisitions that they work on at any given time. This means that the same number of recruiters can make more hires towards headcount goals.
  • We sometimes hear that recruiting teams bring on part-time recruiters just to help screen inbound applicants. Software can replace the work that a contractor might do at a fraction of the cost.

Hire better and improve quality of hire

Decrease cost-per-hire and reduce interviews

  • Candidate screening software can return structured, data-backed insights on a candidate’s abilities and job fit. The resulting data is so powerful, top-performing companies like Zapier can eliminate an entire round of interviews. Imagine that it takes four final round interviews to make one hire and your company plans to make 100 hires next year. That’s 400 hours of interviews! If we can reduce the number of interviews needed per hire by one, that’s a cost savings of more than $20,000 (assuming an interviewer’s average hourly rate is $200).

Support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives

  • When talking to recruiting teams, we often hear that their hiring managers are inherently biased against inbound applicants. There’s a popular misconception that people who apply for a job are less qualified than people who are referred or sourced for a job. In fact, one company that we spoke with did a quality of hire analysis on their top performing vs lowest performing salespeople and found that referrals quantitatively did not perform better.
  • However, due to this negative bias, time-strapped recruiting teams will often only look at a small percentage of total applicants. This hurts the diversity of the candidates in the pipeline, and the diversity of the hiring pool that joins the company.
  • Companies like Coda who use Searchlight to screen candidates end up making 10-15% of hires from a pool of applicants that they initially rejected, showing that there are likely diamonds in your applicant pool that are being overlooked.

The right time to use candidate screening software

After speaking to hundreds of companies, we’ve surfaced the top three business reasons why talent teams and hiring managers use candidate screening software for applicant filtering.

  • Your organization receives over 1,000 inbound applications a week. It takes too long for recruiters to screen each application. Processes start to break down and recruiters don’t have time to take on more high-value priorities.
  • You see a higher rate of mishires, from new hire attrition or under-performance. Using software to screen applicants against consistent criteria can improve quality of hire.
  • Your team spends too much time interviewing each candidate and/or interviewers are ineffective. Adding candidate screening software earlier in the process can ensure that every candidate you spend time interviewing is better quality. The right candidate screening software can even remove an interview from your interviewing process while delivering better data, saving the business hundreds of productive hours.

Overview of different types of candidate screening solutions for applicant filtering

In the dynamic world of talent acquisition, the right candidate screening software can make all the difference in finding the perfect fit for your organization. Four popular approaches to applicant filtering each come with their own set of advantages and challenges. Let's delve into the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision for your recruitment process.

Automated applicant screening

The key characteristic of this type of applicant filtering software is that your applicant list is automatically stack-ranked from best-fit to least-fit for the job. This approach uses AI to screen resumes. 


  • Efficiency: This approach streamlines the initial screening process by assigning a rank to each candidate based on predefined criteria, saving time for recruiters.
  • Consistency and accuracy: Removes bias by relying on predetermined metrics, ensuring a fair evaluation of all applicants.


  • Resumes and applications do not have the full context: The automated ranking may not consider unique qualities that are not communicated through the resume and initial application. To get a more holistic understanding of each applicant, consider behavioral assessments and video interviews.
  • Check for adverse impact: Make sure that the vendor that you use has audited their recommendations to be unbiased. Ask questions to understand what data is used for the predictions so that they do not index heavily on proxies for privilege like universities and certain companies.

Recommended For: 

  • Teams that see thousands of inbound applicants per week and believe that there are great candidates currently slipping through the cracks.

Check out Searchlight’s applicant screening, HiredScore, and SmartRecruiter’s SmartAssistant.

AI-assisted applicant keyword search

The key characteristic of this type of applicant filtering software is that your recruiters and hiring managers can query using keywords, like company name and job title, or using natural language like “SDRs who have at least two years of experience selling to HR buyers.”


  • Efficiency: Instead of looking through each applicant one by one, recruiters can effectively create shortlists of applicants based on important criteria.
  • Precision: AI algorithms, especially with generative AI, can analyze resumes and find matches based on the semantic meaning of each word instead of exact keyword matches. For example, the AI can understand that if you’re looking for someone with experience with HR buyers, companies they might have worked at include ATS companies like Workday, Greenhouse, and Lever.


  • Subconscious bias: By allowing users to design the filters themselves, we may accidentally introduce biases that applicants from only certain companies and educational backgrounds are qualified for the role.
  • Not every applicant gets a look: The shortlist helps recruiters act faster, but that means that 80-90% of applicants don’t get a chance.
  • Resumes and applications do not have the full context: The automated ranking may not consider unique qualities that are not communicated through the resume and initial application. To get a more holistic understanding of each applicant, consider behavioral assessments and video interviews.

Recommended For: 

  • Teams who are highly opinionated about looking for candidates who worked at specific companies and/or in specific jobs.

Check out Searchlight’s applicant screening, Covey Scout, and Ashby applicant sorting.

Behavioral assessments (aka pre-screen assessments)

The key characteristic of this type of applicant filtering software is that the candidate is invited to take a survey that assesses them for key behaviors and attributes necessary for success on the job. Each candidate is assigned a score. The behavioral surveys are psychometrically validated to detect the target traits. The candidate is invited either at the time of application, or after they’ve passed the initial resume/recruiter screen.


  • Efficiency: Recruiters can use the behavioral scores to create a shortlist of applicants that reach a target score. This can also eliminate the need for a preliminary interview.
  • Insight into soft skills: 89% of mishires are due to a soft skills mismatch, but most resumes cannot convey this information. Behavioral assessments evaluate candidates' interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and cultural fit through a standardized process.
  • Accuracy and predictive value: Behavioral assessments are psychometrically validated to be predictive of behavior on the job, so this information is highly valuable for hiring decisions.


  • Limited scope: Focuses on specific traits and may not capture the full range of a candidate's potential.
  • Candidate experience: Not all candidates may be willing to take a survey, so you should expect some drop-off in engagement. There is also a wide range of survey lengths for different assessment types. More questions in a survey leads to better signals on candidate traits, but can annoy applicants. We recommend targeting a 15 minute behavioral assessment to get the predictive signals you need while still having a positive candidate experience.

Recommended For: 

  • Teams hiring for high-volume or early-career roles where soft skills are more important than prior work experience. Behavioral assessments are especially helpful if you have a clearly defined set of culture values that you hire for.

Check out Searchlight’s candidate assessments, Predictive Index, and TestGorilla.

Video interview software

The key characteristic of this type of applicant filtering software is that the applicant must submit a recording of themselves answering interview questions. This video recording is then reviewed by the recruiter or hiring manager. In some cases, the software will assign the candidate a score.


  • Efficiency: Similar to behavioral assessments, recruiters can use the scores to create shortlists of applicants that reach a target score. This can also eliminate the need for a preliminary interview.
  • Insight into candidate’s communication skills and behaviors: Allows recruiters to gauge communication skills, cultural fit, and body language.


  • Tech barriers: Some candidates may face challenges using the video recording technology, potentially leading to an unfair evaluation.
  • Risk of bias: Video interviews may unintentionally introduce bias based on appearance, mannerisms, or cultural differences.
  • Takes time to review video interviews: Hiring managers or recruiters may want to review the tape on an applicant, which can take more time.

Recommended For: 

  • Teams who would like to review recordings of applicants on their own time, instead of scheduling interviews. Video interviews are also helpful for high-volume or early career roles where communication skills are critical.

Check out HireVue and Glider AI Video Interviews.


This guide presents the best recruiting software for candidate screening, specifically for the applicant filtering use case. Selecting the right recruiting software depends on your organization's specific needs and goals. A combination of these approaches may provide a well-rounded screening process, leveraging the strengths of each method while mitigating their respective drawbacks. Remember, the key is to strike a balance that aligns with your company's values and fosters a fair and effective hiring process.

Our talent acquisition experts are happy to provide a consultation to better understand your specific organization and unique priorities. Book a demo to learn more about Searchlight’s candidate screening, applicant filtering, and pre-screen assessment products.

Anna Wang


Anna, our co-founder & CTO, merges engineering and AI with a passion for fiction and history. Leads teams for faster, right-fit hiring insights.

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