Managing Smart: Moving From Applicants to Candidates

By Val San Marco, Director, Talent Acquisition

You have posted your vacancy, crafted the prescreening questions and, with our recruiter advertising your position, you have a large applicant pool. With about 200 applications to sort through, you may feel as if you are looking for a needle in a haystack. Now what?

Hiring can be stressful for first-time hiring managers as well as for seasoned ones. What are the best practices to move from applicants to candidates and then into a hired status? How do you identify the best talent? Where do we start?

Start with the basic, must-have requirements

  • Review applications and resumes attentively and objectively.
  • Evaluate and confirm that the minimum requirements are met. Examples include education, certifications and years of experience, if applicable, etc.

Preferred or good-to-have qualifications

Give the applications and resumes of the candidates who meet the minimum requirements a more in-depth look and look for additional skills and talents the candidate may bring to the role. An example may be having previous experience leading or developing a project/program similar to the one you will soon be implementing in your department.

  • Review work history and evaluate gaps and/or overlaps in time. (e.g. how many times they have switched jobs and length of employment.  Remember past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior).
  • Good intentions do not always bring good results. Be aware of something known as “affinity bias.” By nature, we are attracted to people like us and shy away from those we consider different. “Different” is not limited to the way we look, but the way we think, what we like and the school we attended, etc.

Holistic candidate review and vision and mission alignment

  • This is the time that you evaluate and select the final candidates to move to the interview phase. The candidates selected at this phase will have the must-have and the good-to-have qualifications.
  • Review the cover letter and resume and evaluate each candidates’ reasons for selecting our institution. Do we share the same vision and mission? What is the work they have done in support of our vision and mission?

Remember that candidates are interviewing us as well. Be sure to share our culture openly with them. Tell them what you love about working at Valencia College and share the challenges, too.

As always, members of the Organizational Development and Human Resources Team (ODHR) in your ODHR Regional Solution Centers are here to assist you as you review applications and select candidates to interview. Contact us at or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

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