Job Screening: Expectations vs. Reality

Job screening can mean different things to different organizations.  The processes that companies use to screen potential employees are constantly evolving with advances in technology.  However, the goal remains the same.  Companies use job screening as a tool to find new employees that are a good fit for their organizations. 

What is Job Screening Exactly

The exact definition of job screening is the process used to review potential job candidates to narrow the field to those that are suitable for the available position.  Further, companies are looking for employees that are not only a good fit for a particular job but for their organization as a whole.

Job screening can include a number of practices such as:

  • Use of resume filtering applications
  • Aptitude tests
  • Background checks
  • Reference checks
  • Screening interview

There are best practices when it comes to job screening but there are no hard and set rules on how to go about it.  Companies have to determine what information is most valuable to them. 

Why has Job Screening Become Common

Job screening hasn’t really become much different in recent years.  Employers have always performed their due diligence in hiring new employees.  What has changed are the methods that are used.

Those that have worked in sensitive positions, such as police, hospitals, or government agencies have always gone through a more stringent job screening process.  What has changed is that now private industries are also stepping up their job screening efforts.

Part of the increased focus on job screening is due to the presence of more remote workers in the workplace.  Often, initial screening interviews are done over the phone or online.  Employers do not have the same chance for a face-to-face meeting where they can better read the body language or get to know a potential employee.  Better screening methods became necessary to determine that potential employees were, in fact, who they said they were. This is one reason why reliance on job screening has become more common. 

Do Companies still do Their Own Reference Checks?

Some companies still do their screening interviews and reference checks to evaluate candidates. However, these internal checks are often supplemented by hiring a third-party to perform one or all of the following:

How Long Does the Screening Process Take?

There is no set amount of time for this process to last. This time the screening process takes can differ depending on the practices of the hiring company.  Some companies are just more proactive than others in their hiring practices.

What To Expect During the Job Screening Process

Although the process differs from employer to employer, here is a general example of what you might expect throughout the screening process.  

Most companies will start by filtering through resumes they have received online.  

They will then contact potential employees for a short screening call or in-person interview, to determine if the candidate will be a good fit for the available position. At this point in the process, you may also be asked to provide documentation, such as proof of educational credentials, or to take an aptitude test. 

If the candidate passes the screening interview, they may be asked to another more in-depth interview either with a higher-up in the organization, or the supervisor who will be working directly with the job candidate.  Again, this depends on the type of position you are applying for.  It is not unheard of to have more than two interviews.

It is after passing the interview portion of the process that the employer will usually perform more detailed background checks before extending a job offer.

Many people seem to worry that a potential employer will call their references without intending to hire them.  This is not usually the case. It is only at the point when an employer is seriously considering a candidate that they are likely to contact a former employer or personal reference.


If you have questions about the process, ask your interviewer about what to expect.  In a competitive job market, background checks and job screening are to be expected. Job screening is widely accepted as a standard part of a typical employee onboarding process.

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