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  • Ewa Zajac

A winning template for your recruiter screen notes

I've seen (and produced!) many poorly structured recruiter screen notes that had been submitted to the Hiring Manager: some keywords ("Java"), some buzzwords ("go-getter"), incomplete sentences and lack of flow. A 10min discussion about salary expectations reduced to a single number: 70k. No explanation of why the recruiter thinks this candidate is or is not a fit for the role. So I made a little recipe that you can use to elevate your recruiter screen writing.


Oh no, not another recruiting template!


Hold on now, I get it, we are all busy and have back to back calls. But we can surely do better on our notes, folks, if we truly want to partner with our Hiring Managers and not just provide admin support. They will only read and use your notes if you present valuable information in a way that is easy to consume. Otherwise, what is the value of the time you've spent with the candidate if the Hiring Manager feels they have to rehash all your questions if they want to learn about the candidate?


OK then, what's the recipe?


Here it is, in the order that I'd recommend:


Core skills / summary


This goes at the top of your submission but is actually the last thing you fill out. Why? Because it's a very brief summary of what you've just learned about this candidate's profile. It gives your Hiring Manager a quick reference point.

"Ana is a PM with 7 years of experience in full-cycle development of software products, predominantly in the healthcare industry".

Motivation


This is where you summarise what you've learned about the candidate's reasons for change. What is driving them to take up a new role? Which elements of their current role do they want to keep and which ones would they change? If returning to the workforce after a break, what do they like about their profession?

Assess their company knowledge, too. Have they taken any time at all to learn about your business and can they articulate why it's a good match for them?


"Tim has been following us since last year's UXDX conference, really likes our new product. He wants to move to a company where he'll have more creative control of his design process. He spoke passionately about what makes a software product great."

Current role / most relevant role


Here is where you provide some more detail about their areas of responsibility, competencies, main achievements. What are their strengths? Are there any gaps in their qualifications versus the requirements of the job? Bonus points if you can articulate how their experience maps onto the job you're hiring for.


"Jim has lots of experience with performance & comp reviews, terminations, talent development. He was the lead on a job architecture restructuring project in company X. However, he's only ever done this on a small scale, for teams between 5 and 40 people. He's never worked in a company of our size before."

Communication skills


Here is where you assess your experience communicating with this candidate. Were they volunteering some examples or was it hard to pull anything out of them? Were they polite, friendly, engaged?


Example:

"Articulate, replied promptly, addressed the questions that were asked, provided sufficient context, succinct."

"Evaded questions, did not provide specific examples, veered off topic, used jargon."

Practicalities


This one is quite self-explanatory but make sure you provide more than just bare facts. For example:

  • Salary expectations: looking for somewhere in the 100k ballpark but will also depend on benefits as in current role they get a 5% bonus and a 7% pension contribution. No stock.

  • Notice period: 1 month plus relocation time which would be about 3 weeks

  • Other interviews: applied to two other roles, has a final stage interview in 2 weeks - we need to move fast on this one!

  • Work authorisation: fully authorised


It takes a little bit of practice to develop your note taking habit, but it's soooo worth it! I guarantee that if you share with the Hiring Manager notes that reflect your opinions and good judgement, they will listen to your advice and sing your praises.


Happy screening!

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