HomeThe GenZ LabScreen Smarter, Not Harder

Screen Smarter, Not Harder

  • Thursday, June 13, 2024
  • Noémie Baudouin

Are you tired of using recruitment methods that lead to bad hires and wasted resources? With the help of these scientifically-proven techniques, you can create an efficient and effective hiring process that will save you time, money, and headaches.

A man in a blue suit holding a pen and paper

Let's face it - not all ways of screening job applicants are as awesome as they seem.. You know, unstructured interviews can be totally biased and result in hiring duds. With so many options out there, it's hard to know which ones to pick for successful recruitment. But, no worries - we've got your back! Check out our essential criteria for measuring the effectiveness of applicant screening methods. With these, you'll be able to evaluate each method for validity, reliability, and fairness to make smart hiring decisions.


Utilizing a data-driven and objective approach, we compare and evaluate the effectiveness of each job applicant screening method. Our methodology is based on four key factors:  

1. Scientific validity;

2. Cost-effectiveness;

3. Fairness;

4. Compliance with legislation. 

Groundbreaking research by Pettersen (2002), Bernaud and Laberon (2013), and Schmidt and Hunter (1998) has revealed that these criteria are essential for making informed hiring decisions.

We've categorized each method based on its level of reliability scientifically, using two critical criteria: predictive validity and inter-observer reliability

  • Predictive validity measures the method's ability to predict an applicant's future job performance. 
  • Inter-observer reliability assesses the level of consistency between different recruiters' results. 

By categorizing each method based on these criteria, we provide a comprehensive and reliable analysis. 

The results

Assessment centers: reliable on all points

  • Level of scientific quality: Very high
  • Estimated costs: Moderate to high
  • Applicant perception: Very good
  • Ability to be deferended legally: High to very high

Assessment centers are a sophisticated applicant evaluation system that utilizes a combination of scientifically validated techniques (Bernaud and Laberon, 2013). These centers mainly focus on evaluating situational behavior to obtain comprehensive insights into a candidate's performance criteria for a specific position. By observing candidates in action and using various analytical methods, assessment centers provide an in-depth and objective evaluation of applicants.

To create an effective assessment center, it's essential to follow certain best practices. Here are some examples:

  1. Use real-world situations;
  2. Conduct simulations with a diverse group of assessors;
  3. Measure specific performance criteria;
  4. Analyze each element separately to enable the tracking of trends in applicant strengths and weaknesses.

Simulations: a high level of predictability 

  • Level of scientific quality: High
  • Estimated costs: Moderate to high
  • Applicant perception: Good
  • Ability to be defended legally: High to very high

The goal of this recruitment approach is to immerse applicants in a simulation that closely mirrors the actual situations they would face in their role. By evaluating candidates' skills in a practical setting, this method provides a highly reliable indication of their potential performance. During the simulation, the criteria for evaluating candidates' performance are specific, measurable, and predefined in an observation table that corresponds to the analysis criteria for the position.

Mental and Personality aptitude tests: reliable tools, but costs can be high

  • Level of scientific quality: High
  • Estimated costs: High
  • Applicant perception: Very good
  • Ability to be defended legally: High to very high

Personality tests typically involve psychometric questionnaires that applicants complete to assess their personality. The objective is to provide applicants with a psychological profile that identifies their stable traits and behavioral style. The most widely accepted scientific model for personality modeling is the "Big 5" model, which incorporates five major personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

One of the benefits of psychometric tests is that applicants often find them enjoyable, regardless of whether they receive a favorable response from the company, as they provide valuable insights that enable them to enhance their self-awareness.

Mental aptitude tests, on the other hand, evaluate technical skills, logical reasoning, oral communication, and numerical aptitudes, such as memory and attention.

Structured interviews: Low costs, low scientific quality

  • Level of scientific quality: Low
  • Estimated costs: Low
  • Applicant perception: Medium
  • Ability to be defended legally: Low to medium

Structured interviews are a reliable recruitment technique as they remove the dependency of individual recruiters on their own feelings, thereby reducing the impact of unconscious recruitment biases. While these interviews have a basic structure, more in-depth questions can be added based on the applicant's profile. Structured interviews can help evaluate an applicant's experience, occupational knowledge, social qualities, or skills.

The main challenge is to assess the applicant based on a range of levels that correspond to the selected indicators, such as levels of skills, knowledge, or personal characteristics required for the job. This grading process ensures that the assessment is objective and consistent across all applicants.

Unstructured interviews: Low level of reliability

  • Level of scientific quality: Low (method based on the evaluation of each recruiter and therefore subject to unconscious bias)
  • Estimated costs: Low
  • Applicant perception: Medium
  • Ability to be defended legally: Low to medium

The unstructured interview method involves exploring a range of variables simultaneously, including personality, motivations, career objectives, skills, and more (Bernaud and Laberon, 2013). Typically, an unstructured interview takes the form of a conversation, with the recruiter asking questions as they come up. However, the questions asked and the time allocated may vary from one applicant to another, making this assessment method subject to various biases.

Because unstructured interviews offer a general quality assessment of the applicant without standardization, they leave more room for less tangible elements such as feelings, non-verbal communication, or first impressions (Bernaud and Laberon, 2013). As a result, the inter-assessor reliability of this method is low, and its predictive validity is also limited.

Checking references and biographical methods (CV etc.): low level of scientific quality

  • Level of scientific quality: Low 
  • Estimated costs: Low
  • Applicant perception: Medium

Checking an applicant's CV or contacting people who have worked with the applicant is a widely used method for companies to gather information and move forward with the recruitment process (Bernaud and Laberon, 2013). For instance, a recruiter may contact a former employer to verify certain information about the applicant (Gavand, 2018). However, this technique's predictive validity remains low, primarily because employers tend to be reluctant to provide negative assessments of their former employees (Bernaud and Laberon, 2013). As a result, this method is highly subjective.

Furthermore, analyzing an applicant's past performance is not necessarily an indicator of their future efficiency. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate other measures that enable everyone to express their potential in their future company.

Our Advice: The combined approach

If you're involved in the recruitment process and looking for the most effective and reliable methods to evaluate job applicants, it's crucial to consider a combination of assessment techniques. By using multiple methods, you can ensure that you're getting a comprehensive and accurate assessment of each candidate. Additionally, it's essential to remember that no single method is foolproof, and each has its own strengths and limitations. Therefore, it's essential to understand these differences and choose the best combination of methods that aligns with your company's specific needs and values. With careful consideration and a thoughtful approach, you can create a recruitment process that is both efficient and effective, and that will lead you to the best candidates for the job. So, stay positive and keep exploring the various assessment methods until you find the ones that work best for your company. Good luck and happy recruiting!