How to filter job applications and not miss a great candidate

15 February 2016

clinic manager reading job applications


If you ended up being disappointed at interview by the applicants you selected, it may not be that the right people just aren’t out there. A typed application doesn’t present you with an in-depth person specification and a guarantee of aptitude. Think about the person behind the application, before you delete it for that one grammar error on their CV.

Here are our top tips for selecting the strongest candidates to interview for your clinic’s vacancy.


Don’t ignore the covering letter


Don’t be tempted to skip straight to the CV and make your judgment on that alone. A CV should be regarded as a summary of a person’s career, as it cannot convey an individual’s qualities and abilities in their entirety. You should read the covering letter or email supporting an application, or listen to the extra information a recruitment consultant is giving you on a candidate. A good covering letter should tell you what the CV does not – primarily, why the applicant wants this job and would fit into your company.

A covering letter need not be a whole essay aimed at persuading you to interview the applicant; it may be just a brief paragraph. A keen and serious applicant should always include one in some form, though.


Reading a CV: the first glance


Before you start drilling down into the detail, what does a first glance at a CV tell you? Is it clear? Does it look like all the necessary information is there? All decent candidates should present CVs that contain their work history, training, and contact details as a minimum. Though not all job seekers are going to be CV-writing experts, it is simply common sense to include such information. If the CV is missing something vital – such as contact details – it’s not a good start.

Is the rest of the CV easy to read? You should be able to scan the CV and find the key dates, skills and facts. As CVs are generally typed using programs that can highlight errors and typos, there isn’t much of an excuse for making spelling mistakes throughout a CV. That said, if an aesthetician is incredibly skillful at treating, would it matter that she misspelt ‘microdermabrasion’ on her CV? Certain administrative skills are perhaps more pertinent for your non-clinical staff, so try to judge an applicant’s language and IT skills in line with the requirements of the role, not your own personal standards.


Look for facts and figures


Look for examples that illustrate an individual’s successes and achievements. Sales people should mention their sales figures from their current and previous positions. Practice or clinic managers should mention improvements they have made for their employer or increases in company turnover they are responsible for. Clinicians should list their qualifications, and the dates they completed training courses, not just the treatments they have performed.

Do take note of the applicant’s employment dates. Beware CVs that have short stints in employment or gaps between jobs. It may show a lack of ‘stickability’ or loyalty, or an inability to hit targets. Of course it may not be the fault of the employee every time, so there is a balance to be struck.


Judge the applicant, not their previous employer


Of course it matters who the person has worked for, what technologies they know, and perhaps how many people they’ve managed. But, if you are not keen on the companies the applicant has worked for in the past, try not to be prejudiced, and look at that individual’s abilities and potential. Just because they have worked for a clinic you don’t respect, it doesn’t necessarily mean the culture has rubbed off on them. This may be the very reason the individual is looking to leave their current employer.


The right applicant will have the right attitude


Skills can be taught and knowledge can be instilled in someone who has the right attitude to fit into your organisation. A CV doesn’t tell you about an individual’s personality, emotional intelligence or social skills. Would you rather hire someone because they have the right experience but the wrong attitude, or someone with not quite enough experience but the right attitude? This is where you may have to compare an applicant with a brilliant covering letter and a lack of experience against someone with good experience who shows no enthusiasm for the role.

Skills can normally be taught but a personality rarely changes. Ask yourself, can this person deal with tough setbacks? Can they take responsibility? Can they make things happen at critical moments? When you find a top-quality candidate, you’ll see that the answer to these questions is inevitably yes. And it may be that you simply cannot answer those questions just from reading a CV. You may need to wait until the interview stage.


What you’re really looking for in a great candidate are the qualities you can’t list on a CV – essentially, brains and passion. They’re at the root of a person’s ability to confront unexpected challenges, to demonstrate wisdom and judgment, and to develop into an invaluable part of your team.


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