5 tactics to help you manage a surge in job applicants

Woman working on laptop in home office

Is your company currently experiencing an unprecedented surge in job applications? If so, you’re not alone. Whether you’re hiring right now or planning to when hiring picks back up, you can expect to see tons of candidates vying for your attention. As a recruiter, that can be incredibly welcome. But you may also be finding the sudden influx of interest in joining your company more like an inundation.

At Greenhouse, we work with some of the most compelling hiring brands in the world. These companies have always had to deal with huge volumes of inbound applicants – allowing us to see which methods have the highest efficiency and business impact.

We’re here to help you actively sift through a large number of applicants and accurately focus your efforts on the right candidate fit for the roles you need to fill, now. The top of the candidate pipeline funnel can be a manual slog, so keep in mind that there’s a fine balance between automation and the necessary human touch involved in the review process.

Here are five tactics to help you manage a high-volume candidate pipeline:


1. Add more detailed questions to your job application

When you’re overwhelmed with quantity, asking the right questions will make it easier for you to differentiate which applications are worth moving forward through your pipeline. These questions can suss out specific job requirements, ask for a list of technical skills or be used to simply weed out those individuals who are mass-applying to every available role out there.

Once you’ve set up the right questions based on your company’s current hiring needs, you can task your ATS to assist in filtering your pipeline for top talent. In Greenhouse, you can:

Set application rules with auto-reject to disqualify people early on based on their answers to your job application questions

  • Example: "Do you have a Class A Commercial Driver's License (CDL)?"
    Tech solution: Automatically reject applicants who don’t already have the license because the position requires driving a tractor-trailer


Use auto-tags to easily group candidate

  • Example: “Where do you live?”
    Tech solution: Auto-tag based on location to compile the applicants who live near the specific warehouse or retail location you’re hiring for


After weeding out the auto-rejected candidates, you’ll want to review the remaining applicants based on relevant tags or filters to speed up the process. Focus the time spent in application review by leveraging auto-tagging rules and insights from key reports. When you've auto-tagged candidates based on responses to specific job post questions, you can easily filter for certain tags and review those candidates first. In your first review round, for example, you may only want to look at those with 5+ years of C++ experience for your developer role.

The Greenhouse candidate quality by source report can highlight which sources yield the highest quality candidates, so you can filter by source or another dimension and then launch application review only on those candidates to double down on your most fruitful sources first.


2. Streamline interview scheduling emails

One-off emails won’t cut it when you’re trying to wade through hundreds or thousands of applications. That’s why we recommend scheduling interviews over email with multiple candidates at once. Don’t think it can be done? You can absolutely send interview scheduling messages in bulk for top of funnel phone screens with a simple scheduling integration like Calendly. Taking this step will reduce time spent on email, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the hiring process.


3. Utilize tools to uncover top talent in the applicant crowd

Job applications alone aren’t usually enough to determine who the right candidates are for the open jobs you desperately need to fill yesterday (not to mention today and tomorrow). To help your organization get to the right-qualified individuals as quickly as possible, send assessments in bulk to screen candidates for online skills with specific tests or assignments.

Greenhouse integrates with 80+ assessment and optimization solutions that automate the process of weeding through applications. Our assessment solutions test candidates for specific skill sets prior to any face-to-face interviews, such as HackerRank for technical assessments. Our recruitment optimization and analytics partners use automation and AI to cull through applications on your behalf, including CiiVSOFT and Hiring Solved. With so many resumes in your system – and more pouring in daily – you’ll need to amplify your team’s human power with technology.

At this early assessment stage, you can use your trusty auto-tags and auto-reject features to filter candidates based on their assessment performances. We recommend going beyond the aforementioned take-home assignments to leverage one-way video interviews for specific exercises or questions. Also known as asynchronous videos, they can be much more efficient for filtering candidates than lengthy live video interviews, saving time for both your company and potential candidates. Greenhouse offers several integrations with video interviewing tools like SparkHire to conduct one-way video interviews.


4. Whether you’re actively hiring or not, it’s important to nurture your pipeline

Creating meaningful relationships with active and prospective candidates can be a huge differentiator in your long-term recruiting efforts. Utilizing a tool like Greenhouse CRM can help you design a process that takes intentional steps to keep one of your most valuable assets – your talent pool – engaged, even during a hiring slowdown. With Greenhouse CRM, users can:

Segment prospects into strategic prospect pools and create communication strategies to provide relevant marketing and brand information to help prospects stay connected to your company

  • For example, given the number of unprecedented layoffs that may be impacting your workforce, creating an alumni prospect pool may be particularly helpful – by keeping track of this group, you’re better able to nurture and reach back out when hiring for those roles makes sense again


Use prospect posts to collect applications from those who are interested in your company but may not see an open role that matches their profile

  • Popular prospect post headers include “Don’t see what you’re looking for?” and “Tell us about your dream job”
  • Once submitted, the prospect’s information appears directly in the appropriate prospect pool, effectively building a pool of talent for you to source from for future openings
  • Set reminders to manage tasks for nurturing prospect relationships so you actively and regularly stay connected


For more inspiration and CRM best practices, you can explore our guide on common CRM use cases.


5. Leverage reports and data to better understand your pipeline efficiencies

Last but certainly not least, we have to mention data. Using the proper reports and data to measure source quality and your effectiveness in moving the right candidates through your pipeline is a vital part of managing a high-volume applicant stream.

Greenhouse customers will schedule, save and/or bookmark various reports to accurately measure pipeline management, such as our candidate quality by source report, our pipeline per job report and our pipeline history and passthrough rates report.


We’re in this, together

We understand that the task of sifting through the mountains of applications coming your way may seem daunting. These five tactics will help you break down the process, automate what you can and be as organized and efficient as possible. Whether you’re hiring fast or riding the wave of a recruiting slowdown, spend some time evaluating your processes so you can handle anything that comes your way.


Finding yourself in uncharted waters these days with a spike in applicants? We've built out a range of solutions to help you.
Join us on Thursday, April 30, at 10 am PT/1 pm ET for our live webinar on recruiter agility and maintaining a hiring mindset.

Sarah Hooker

Sarah Hooker

is the Director of Product Marketing at Greenhouse. Sarah has worked in tech for 15+ years, leading teams in CS and Marketing at LinkedIn, athenahealth, Justworks and Amazon. Sarah is passionate about marketing, executive coaching and helping match talent to the right roles. She travels whenever she gets the chance and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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