PRESCREENING BY PHONE CUTS HIRING TIME AT SHOP 'N SAVE

ST. LOUIS -- Shop 'N Save here is reducing the amount of time it spends prescreening prospective employees by an average of at least 15 minutes per person through the use of a telephone job applicant screening program.The retailer is currently using the program to screen applicants for cashier, grocery and perishables clerk positions. Applicants call a toll-free number for automated prescreening evaluation."College

ST. LOUIS -- Shop 'N Save here is reducing the amount of time it spends prescreening prospective employees by an average of at least 15 minutes per person through the use of a telephone job applicant screening program.

The retailer is currently using the program to screen applicants for cashier, grocery and perishables clerk positions. Applicants call a toll-free number for automated prescreening evaluation.

"College students are going back to school so there are openings everywhere," said John Dougherty, vice president of human resources at Shop 'N Save, a chain of 33 supermarkets.

The retailer began using the telephone job screening program in May when it needed to hire 564 employees for three new stores scheduled to open in July.

During May, June and July, 5,275 calls were placed to the toll-free job applicant screening phone number for cashier, grocery and perishables clerk positions. Applicants who met the retailers' qualifications were passed on to the retailer by the service handling the information for Shop 'N Save.

"We only had to interview 1,500 people," Dougherty said."The system disqualified 3,775 people, who we didn't even need to talk to."

As a result, the retailer didn't have every person fill out an application. Shop 'N Save also saved handling time on processing the application and conducting an initial interview. "This process takes about 15 minutes per applicant," Dougherty said. "Multiplied by the number of people we didn't have to see, that's a significant number."

When using the telephone job screening program, provided by HReasy, Charlotte, N.C., applicants are asked a series of questions, including their age and their citizenship. Applicants are also asked honesty questions, such as whether the individual would tell the employer if he or she saw another employee taking product.

This process is yielding a better quality employee. "We've gotten several comments from our managers that the quality [of associates] is much better," Dougherty said.

The payback for this system though will come from not only getting quality employees, but if a high number of employees who stay on the job.

"I want to evaluate this program in six months, nine months and a year, then compare how many people we hired with the number of people who remain with us," he added.