How To Screen CVs

Receiving high volumes of candidates for a job vacancy can be both a recruiter’s dream and worst nightmare. But whether you receive tens or hundreds of applications, learning how to screen CVs effectively is essential in helping you to find the best candidate.

Refer back to the job description

The first thing you should do when evaluating any CV or job application is to re-familiarise yourself with the job advert. Make sure you know what the required qualifications, skills and work experience are, which requirements are essential and which are desirable.

Don’t begin the screening process until after the cut off date for accepting applications. This will ensure that all CVs submitted will be judged using the same criteria.

Check CVs for the required skills

Once you have an understanding of the requirements for the job, scan through each CV and start the screening process by sorting them into three categories: qualified, possibly qualified and unqualified.

  • Qualified: this candidate has all of the essential requirements and some desirable
  • Possibly qualified: this candidate has most of the essential requirements and some desirable
  • Unqualified: this candidate falls short on both the essential and desirable requirements

Remember that each candidate will format their CV slightly differently, so be sure to scan the full document to avoid missing any key information.

After categorising each candidate’s CV into whether they are qualified, potentially qualified or unqualified for the position, you can then carry out the second stage of more in-depth checks.

Go back through the CVs of qualified candidates and look for the following:

  • Do they have any other desirable qualifications, training or experience that would be beneficial for the position?
  • Are there any unexplained gaps in employment?
  • Does their recent work history relate to the job?
  • Do they have a high number of transferable skills?
  • Do their career aims align with the position?
  • Have they included any hobbies or interests that are relevant to the job?
  • Have they provided evidence (such as statistics or anecdotal examples) of their achievements?

Strong candidates will tailor their applications to the specific job description, and these individuals may be more enthusiastic about the position than candidates who simply send a generic CV to a number of employers. Look for CVs that mirror the language used in the job listing and that place emphasis on skills or characteristics that are presented as important in the job description.

Give each CV a score

To make it easier for you to assess every CV equally, you might want to create a scoring system. Decide how many points you will assign to each required skill or qualification, as well as alternates (such as a degree in civil engineering vs a degree in a different, but related subject). And once you know how many points each requirement is worth, determine the minimum number that a candidate will need to advance into the next stage of the recruitment process.

How a recruitment agency can help

Even with the most efficient processes in place, screening CVs can require a significant investment of your HR team’s time - especially if you receive a lot of applications or you’re recruiting for multiple roles at one time.

When it comes to creating a shortlist of suitable applicants, engaging a specialist recruitment agency will often be the best way to effectively narrow down the candidate pool. Your recruitment consultant will work with you to gain an in-depth understanding of your business, the job role and what you’re looking for in order to compile a shortlist of the most qualified candidates.

For more information about how you could benefit by engaging a recruitment agency to manage your hiring process, click here.

XCL are experts at supplying skilled candidates for both temporary and permanent positions. Specialising in the automotive, production, engineering, construction and commercial sectors, your dedicated consultant will manage the recruitment process on your behalf, making sure you find the very best people to join your team.

Whether you have a vacancy you need to fill right now or you’d like to discuss your future recruitment plans, call XCL on 01484 819900 or email us on and we’ll be happy to help.