Twenty Questions About Online Screening: A Survey

If you read my columns regularly you probably already know my opinion about the usefulness of online screening tools. Here’s a quick recap just in case you have forgotten. Screening is an essential part of any online hiring process because it:

  • Provides an inexpensive, automated way to remove unqualified applicants from the applicant pool early on in the hiring process.
  • Provides information about a candidate that goes beyond what can be found on a resume.
  • Reduces the reliance on guesswork through the use of tools that have been proven to predict an applicant’s success at a given job.
  • Provides an easy way to collect the data need to create important hiring-related metrics.

While I am sure many readers will agree with the fact that online screening can provide these benefits and many more, we really don’t have a good source of collective data that can help identify important trends related to its use. The purpose of this article is to begin collecting some basic information about these trends. To do this I need your help. At the end of this article there is a link to a quick reader survey on screening issues (or click here to go right to the survey). I have made this article much shorter than usual so you can take the time you would’ve used reading my article to answer the survey. This means that overall, you won’t be out much time and your investment will be rewarded with some useful information. In my next article, I’ll summarize the results and explore some of their implications. My survey is aimed at gathering the data needed to begin to understand the answers to three broad questions:

  1. What is the present state of usage for online screening?
  2. What are some of the obstacles to the adoption of online screening?
  3. Will the use of online screening increase in the future?

The remainder of this article presents some background about these questions. What is the Present State of Online Screening? I am certain that, with each passing day, more and more organizations are adding some form of screening to their hiring process. The results of a survey that Kevin Wheeler and I collaborated on in late 2001 suggest that about 32% of companies surveyed used some form of online screening or assessment. This is the only information I know of that provides any indication about usage rates for online screening. A lot has happened since that survey was conducted and it will be very interesting to find out how the usage of online screening compares to the data we obtained last year. The questions in this section of the survey are meant to gather information needed to examine the overall usage of online screening as well as the characteristics of this usage. Survey data will be used to answer the following general questions:

  • What is the present usage rate for online screening and how does this compare to that of other online hiring initiatives?
  • What are the characteristics of this usage (i.e., what type of screening is most popular, for what jobs is screening most commonly used)?

Obstacles to the Adoption of Online Screening The results of our 2001 survey indicated that only about 32% of survey respondents were using some form of online screening. Compare this with iLogos’ findings that, as of 2001, 88% of global 500 companies have some form of job portal/careers page on their corporate website. The discrepancy between the number of companies using the web as an employment tool and the those who are using screening as part of this process suggests that the majority of companies using the web as a hiring tool haven’t yet adopted screening. Additionally, our survey identified gaps in the adoption of best practices for almost all aspects of the hiring process, including online screening. I feel that this information means that there must be some internal organizational obstacles to the use of online screening. Identifying and understanding these obstacles is a critical factor in helping us to increase the adoption of screening as part of the online hiring process. The questions in this section of the survey are meant to help identify some of the internal obstacles to the adoption of online screening. Survey data will be used to answer these general questions:

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  • Do practitioners perceive the presence of obstacles to the use of online screening?
  • If so what are these obstacles and why do they exist?
  • What can be done to overcome these obstacles?

The Future of Online Screening As far as I am concerned, all signs point to an increase in the use of online screening in the future. For instance:

  • The results of our 2001 survey indicated that about 60% of respondents felt they might be adopting online screening in the future.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force in the U.S. consists of 143 million individuals. The BLS projects that this figure is expected to increase by 15% by 2010. This means that in the next 10 years or so, there will be about 21 million hiring decisions made. Certainly these figures have contributed to many of the estimations I have read suggesting that online screening may be a billion dollar industry within the next decade.
  • Job seekers are more than willing to participate in screening activities. According to a recent iLogos survey, 60% of jobseekers are willing to spend more than 15 minutes applying for a job online, 88% have no problem answering skills based questions, and 68% have no problem answering personality-based questions.

While this information certainly indicates that the use of screening will increase, I think it is important to gather as much data as possible about what the future may bring for online screening. The questions in this section of the survey are meant to gather information needed to examine the future of online screening. Survey data will be used to attempt to answer these general questions:

  • How widespread will screening become in the future?
  • Will one type of screening become dominant and if so which type?
  • What is the future of the resume in the hiring process?

The Survey The questions on this survey are designed for practitioners who are currently working in staffing-related roles within corporations. If you are not in such a role yourself but know of any such persons who are, I would appreciate it if you would forward the survey link along to them. Additionally, if you don’t feel you have the information needed to complete the survey, please pass it along to someone whom who you feel might be able to help. Please click the following link to access the survey. It should take you about 5-10 minutes to complete. All information provided will be strictly confidential. Survey results will be provided in an upcoming article. Thanks for your participation!

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.







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