Candidate Selection Process

How to identify the people you should be hiring

The selection process begins with setting the selection criteria. What type of person are we actually looking for? Naturally, this question cannot be answered in isolation as it depends on numerous factors including:

  • Nature of the organization

  • Nature of the function

  • Make up of current team

  • Future direction of the business

  • Short term skills gap

  • Succession planning/bench strength

Having taken the above factors (and many others) into consideration, we then need to decide on the ideal candidate profile. Issues to be considered include:

  • Clearly distinguishing between 'must haves' and 'nice to haves'

  • Cultural fit

  • Personal style (eg. do you need a more extroverted individual to balance an introverted sales team?)

  • Academic background

  • Level of seniority

  • Type of organisations in work history

  • Specific functional expertise (this can be a very involved area)

  • Salary range

  • Career potential

Actually the list is virtually endless. Nevertheless for any given role, it needs to be distilled down to the core selection criteria which probably won’t number more than half a dozen.

Once your target candidate profile has been identified (and sometimes this will require some internal negotiations particularly in matrix environments), you will be in a position to:

1. Start sourcing candidates

2. and then start selecting the ideal person


Selection methods

There are many approaches to selection including

1. Interviews (of which there are many types)

2. Psychometric testing

3. In-house appraisal workshops

4. Technical testing

5. Reference checking

Again the list is virtually endless.

Still almost all selection activities will include an interview element whether or not it is augmented by alternatives, so for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on this.

Many books have been written on interviewing. However, some good general advice to the interviewer would include:

  1. Prepare yourself adequately
    • Review resume in detail
    • Plan your questions
    • Identify any discrepancies for follow-up
  2. Upon meeting the candidate, do all you can to produce a relaxed environment. Some initial small talk goes a long way as does sharing with them how you propose to conduct the meeting. Basically try to relax the candidate and empower them.
  3. Once the interview is under way (and bearing in mind there are time constraints), you will need to use a mixture of open questions (to seek opinion and encourage them to expand on topics) and closed questions.
  4. Focus on what the individual did, not what their team achieved.
  5. Occasionally dig down into areas and ask specific questions that can be verified via reference checking.
  6. Don’t forget to market the role and your organization.
  7. Give the candidate an opportunity to ask lots of questions.
  8. Ensure you have a good grasp of details such as:
    • Salary
    • Notice period
    • Bonus pay outs
  9. Establish the candidates’ interest levels at the end of the meeting and define the approach going forward. Where there are multiple interviews conducted by different staff members, it is important that everybody be on "the same page" in terms of selection criteria and the selling points of the role/organization.

Fundamentally, selection (irrespective of the methods utilized) is not an exact science. It is more a game of probabilities. Having said that, investing in a robust recruitment process is likely to result in much better outcomes than the haphazard knee jerk approaches used by many organizations.

Companies such as General Electric, Shell and Procter & Gamble place enormous emphasis on their recruitment and staff development processes and one can reasonably infer that at least a portion of these companies’ success can be attributed to these policies.

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