A step-by-step guide to screening applicants with an AI assist

Written by: Marc Schultz
Published on: Feb 1, 2024

ai assist robot friend

(Image: Lerbank-bbk22)

We wear many hats in purpose-driven organizations – and the “hiring manager” hat may be one that you haven’t yet broken in. That’s why we’re providing this guide to the application screening process, along with instructions for a time-saving assist from AI.

When screening, it's important to follow a thorough and systematic process to identify the best candidates. This ensures not only that you find quality candidates, but also that they are evaluated equitably.

Of course, the volume of applicants (plus the volume of your day-to-day work!) can make this process a lot longer than you, or your candidates, may wish. Fortunately, there are intuitive and free-to-use AI tools that can cut down on the amount of time it takes to vet candidates.

First, check out this list of specific steps to follow in the applicant review process. You may not need every one, but it’s best practice to at least consider them before forming your own list.

  1. Initial review and qualifications check

    • Get a thorough understanding of the job description and create a list of keywords.
    • Scan the resume for basic qualifications and keywords matching the job description.
  2. Experience and achievements assessment

    • Evaluate work history, focusing on relevant roles and industry experience.
    • Examine achievements, projects, and specific impact in previous roles.
  3. Skills, competencies, and knowledge evaluation

    • Analyze both hard and soft skills (technical and interpersonal).
    • Assess industry knowledge, including volunteer work and related involvement.
  4. Career trajectory and cultural alignment

    • Check for career progression in alignment with the role's seniority level.
    • Assess alignment of experiences and values with your organization's culture.
  5. Application material consistency check

    • Review the cover letter for motivation and alignment with your mission.
    • Cross-reference resume and application materials for consistency and accuracy.

Though it's an involved process, following each of these steps can actually streamline the screening process while helping you make more informed and equitable decisions about the applicants to consider further.

The AI assist

A number of free AI chatbot programs are now available – including ChatGPT, Bard, and Claude – that you can use to reliably review a wide range of text-based content, including job applications.

Once you log in to any of these programs, the process is highly intuitive. You can communicate with an AI chatbot in standard conversational language, give it detailed instructions to follow, and it will respond immediately (unless servers are unusually busy). 

Of course, be sure to review any responses you get from an AI chatbot closely – both for additional insight you want to pull and for any mistakes the AI may have made. (Though if you provide all the relevant material and context, mistakes are highly unlikely.)

Here are the steps to take when requesting an applicant evaluation from an AI chatbot.

Step 1: Gather all relevant information. This includes the job description, the applicant’s resume and other application materials, and your list of application review steps.

Step 2: Provide your AI chatbot with context. In a new chat, tell your chatbot that you are a hiring manager and you would like its help in evaluating applicants. Provide your job description and the application – resume, cover letter, and other text-based material. You can simply copy-and-paste each of these items. You may also provide your list of review steps to follow, or you could simply ask the chatbot to provide a list of strengths and weaknesses. Here is a sample script:

Hi, I’m hiring for a position at my nonprofit. I’d like your help in evaluating applicants for me. Can you please follow these steps?

1. Read the job description for the open position:
[copy-and-paste your job description here]

2. Read the resume and cover letter for the applicant I’d like you to review:
[copy-and-paste the application materials here]    

3. Please provide me with a list of strengths and weaknesses for this candidate. <OR> Please provide me with an evaluation of the application material using the following points as a guide.
[optional: copy-and-paste review steps here]

Once you hit “send,” you’ll see the AI chatbot go to work providing you with an evaluation.

Step 3: Review and revisit. Read the evaluation and check it against the application materials for accuracy. Consider what more you’d like to know about this candidate, including what may be missing from the evaluation and what might be missing from the application materials themselves. Consider following up with the AI chatbot if you have unanswered questions that may be answered by the application itself. Write out your other unanswered questions for use in a future interview with the candidate. 

Bonus step: You can even ask the AI chatbot to generate those interview questions for you. For example, “Could you provide additional questions that explore the candidate's ability to work in a collaborative team environment?"

Ready to find top talent? Post a job now!

Marc Schultz is communications editor at Work for Good.