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  • Ewa Zajac

Why you should review CVs in batches

As recruiters, we see so many CVs and have very limited time to make decisions on their suitability. Plus, the number of CVs reviewed does not count towards any of our KPIs. Instead, hires do.


I used to get past the CV review step as quickly as possible, so I could feel productive and efficient. I wanted to show the Hiring Manager that I am making quick progress and have candidate calls scheduled within a few short days.


But that led to some poor decisions.


I would start the screening call with someone, only to quickly realise they were not a match for the role. I would ask myself (as I’m sure you can relate!): why did I even reach out to this person in the first place? A closer look at their profile would reveal that I had missed some key information, costing me time and energy spent on the call.


The solution was to replace sequential CV reviewing with batch reviewing.


Sequential reviewing

You open a role, profiles start trickling in. You review one, two, three, it turns out they’re not a match, you reject them (with a polite email, of course). You review another, it looks better, you think “this could work” and at this point you reach out to the candidate to arrange a call.


You’ve fallen for what psychologists call “the contrast effect”: medium-to-poorly matching CVs look like a potential fit when compared to the very bad ones you’ve just looked at. Moving fast has led you to potentially waste 30mins of your time per candidate, plus the comms overhead.


Batch reviewing

It can sound counterintuitive, but practicing patience with your pipeline will allow you to make better screening decisions.


First, you reject applicants who are clearly not a fit and you bookmark the remaining ones for further consideration. If you see a good profile, let the candidate know that you are reviewing their application and you will be in touch soon. But you don’t start scheduling the screens until you have a few strong matches in your bookmarked pile.


Then, select the ones that you should speak to as your top priority. They will be your Tier 1 candidates - you should give them prime slots in your calendar. Tier 2 candidates will get the remaining slots.


When to apply batch reviewing


It works best if you have a reasonably active and problem-free pipeline, between 20 and 150 applicants for a given role. When that’s not the case, some troubleshooting might be required:


  1. If your pipeline is nearly dead (1-20 applicants of varied quality) you should still avoid the temptation to push the “maybe” pile through before you spend some time sourcing, advertising and talent mapping. You need to understand the problem and troubleshoot before you start screening.

  2. If your pipeline is extremely busy (150+ applicants), you will need to use some additional method of picking out the best ones. Predefined application questions work well for quick “yes” or “no” decisions. For example, when hiring for customer support, ask candidates to write 3 sentences about why they love helping others. The answers will give you insight into the candidate’s mindset.


Exception: "gold dust" candidates


If you come across “gold dust” - a profile that is very rare on the market, with a niche skill set - get in touch immediately and move mountains to find them a job in your organisation.


Let me know in the comments if this has worked for you or if you have some other tricks up your sleeve. Happy reviewing!


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