I'm an IT employee at a small company (~50 employees) attempting to hire someone I will manage directly. HR is feeding me resumes from a job board posting. In writing the job description, I tried hard to avoid sounding robotic or faddish.

In the description, I specifically asked in what situations a phone call, an instant message, and an email would be the best method to communicate with a coworker, as I am fully remote and in a different time zone.

Of the dozens of resumes received in just a few days, none had a cover letter, even though the job board supports it. I sorted out a handful of promising resumes anyway.

The position is approximately Helpdesk II or III and pays well. I hesitate to be super-demanding, since these jobs are fairly easy to find. Is it reasonable to email these candidates and ask them to submit a brief reply answering the question?

The entire point of my approach is find candidates who can write and work asynchronously, as we currently have a culture problem of interrupting people for trivial issues. However, I don't want to ask too much for a job only a few notches above entry level.

  • 1
    For entry level-ish role, I don't recommend a cover letter unless you're just getting bombarded with poor applicants.
    – jcmack
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 22:22
  • @JoeStrazzere I asked in what situations a phone call, an instant message, and an email would be the best method.
    – bendodge
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 0:19
  • @JoeStrazzere A good answer would be "email for most things, chat when discussion is needed or when working on an issue in real-time, phone for emergencies, brainstorming, and complex discussions." A bad answer would be "email for outside the company and phone calls for my coworkers."
    – bendodge
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 15:27
  • @JoeStrazzere I wish to screen people who can't write decent email or who interrupt coworkers unnecessarily. Side note, but the comment box submits when I press Enter key on spellcheck menu. That's why so many edits. :)
    – bendodge
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


We require all candidates to submit a response to Key Selection Criteria as part of submitting their application. That being said, we won't always strictly adhere to the requirement.

If we have a lot of applicants it makes for a quick way to reduce the list, just remove all applications without the required KSC. However if the candidate field is more limited we don't have that luxury.

My recommendation would be that if you only have a limited number of applications you want to filter through, and this information is key to the role, then you can either ask them to provide a written response, or do a brief phone interview.

  • I think you're saying that if applicant volume is high enough, I can raise the requirements. That's helpful.
    – bendodge
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 15:36

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