First impressions count: Why sifting needs intelligent design

Often it isn’t resource effective for recruiters to meet with each and every candidate, so many overcome this challenge by sifting applications. Sifting (also known as pre-selection) is a method used by recruiters to screen job applicants, reducing the number that progress to the next stage of the process, usually an interview or assessment centre. The screening step is applied to filter out a proportion of individuals who don’t match the basic skills and competencies required for the role.

29th February 2016


Historically, sifting has been applied to simply screen out candidates. These processes have in recent years become more sophisticated, in order to support additional HR objectives such as candidate attraction. Today, the sifting process is usually carried out online, using assessments such as ability tests and situational judgement tests (SJTs).

Every organisation wants its early interaction with candidates to count. But in some quarters, sifting has got a bad name. Applicants are sometimes left feeling that it is unfair for employers to use automation to reject them. However, when a huge proportion of recruitment is carried out online, intelligent algorithms and data-driven assessment solutions have a significant part to play. The key to their success is in the design.

An expertly designed sifting process can bring major benefits, both for employers and those taking part. Recruiters can save time and resource by deploying rigorous sifting assessments that only put forward the most suitable candidates. There is no reason why these systems should leave participants with a negative perception either. If the tests are relevant, fair and challenging, candidates will remain engaged and will view their effort in taking part as worthwhile.

Crucially, unsuccessful candidates should always receive personalised feedback on why they were not put forward. This doesn’t have to be a labour-intensive process. At Cubiks, we provide solutions that can promptly and automatically email feedback reports to unsuccessful candidates detailing their performance and even offering development tips.


Add insight and efficiency

Many HR teams today are operating on reduced budgets, or with fewer staff. We often hear from clients that these departments are being asked to ‘do more with less’. Implementing an effective sifting process can really help relieve some of this strain. By sifting automatically, organisations can reduce the financial and time investment required for high volume campaigns. When recruiters are able to focus immediately on the top candidates, the chances of finding the right person are improved.  

When this focus is coupled with the insight from assessment reports, recruiters have the best chance of selecting someone who really fits the role. That means employers can cut down the cost of making poor decisions and consequently the negative impact this can have on morale.


Engage and inspire candidates

An expertly designed sifting approach will help attract and engage talent. Taking advantage of the growing closeness between HR and Marketing, an employer’s brand and values can be integrated into job-relevant assessments to really engage and excite participants. When these online tests seamlessly integrate with an organisation’s website, they enable employers to showcase what they can offer potential new joiners.

The results from our latest candidate experience survey demonstrated how sifting can leave a good impression, particularly when the process is clearly connected with the employer’s brand. Candidates who saw this connection were more likely to report a positive experience than those who did not. This survey also highlighted how vital feedback is; when asked for open comments on what could be improved in the future; feedback, information and communication were frequently referenced. Candidates who received feedback were most likely to say they had been treated fairly.


Get a great return on investment

At Cubiks, we work with some of the world’s leading brands to help them attract, sift and select the talent they need. Here are some of the results these clients have achieved.

  • Up to £1m cost saving per year
  • Time to hire reduced by up to 50%
  • Success at interview increased
  • Significant increase in the diversity of applicants
  • Candidate drop-out rates reduced by up to 30%
  • Industry recognition from a range of awarding bodies.

If you’d like to know how your organisation can benefit from an intelligent sifting process, email or get in touch with your local Cubiks team using the form below.

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