Selection is the process of sorting and selecting a suitable employee from the applicants. The selection process At the end of the recruitment process, applicants will have forwarded their details to the organisation in a format which will depend on how they were asked to apply. It is at this stage that selection can begin and it is important that this is done correctly in order that the right person is found for the job. Selection methods available to organisations include:
Application forms or letters – usually the first stage of selection, which leads to further selection methods. Selectors see candidate’s powers of written expression. Can be designed to ensure all relevant information is asked for. Easy to use and match against job criteria. Advantages Could be completed by someone else. Not always accurate – candidate can lie, leave things out. Doesn’t give a real feel for the person. Disadvantages
Curriculum Vitae (CV) – a document that summarises personal details; education and qualifications; employment history; hobbies and interests; referees. May have been completed or tidied up by someone else. Selectors can assess candidate’s writing skills. Not always accurate – candidate may lie, exaggerate, leave things out. Can provide a good personal overview of the applicant. Disadvantages Advantages
Tests – there are a number of different tests which can be used to assess candidate suitability; however, whichever ones are used, great care must be taken to ensure they are appropriate, valid (do they actually test what they need to test?) and reliable in their results (do they give the same results when repeated?). Personality tests can be unreliable if not administered by trained personnel. If used together can give an all-round picture of the candidate. If not well designed, can discriminate against some candidates, e.g. use of local vocabulary or terms may disadvantage non-local candidates. Can give comparison of levels of skills between candidates. Candidate’s performance may be uncharacteristic, e.g. affected by nerves. Can check the validity of candidate’s skills. Disadvantages Advantages
practical tests (e.g. bricklaying or word processing) which check actual competence in skills necessary for the job.
medical tests – health and strength may be an essential requirement.
general ability or aptitude tests which may test the ability to learn or adapt if there are new skills to be developed in the job.
personality tests which look at traits, behaviour or attitudes and indicate whether a person is suitable and would be successful in the post.
These days, many organisations are using psychometric tests which take the form of questionnaires and are aimed at assessing aptitudes and personality. These tests are accredited by the British Psychological Society and must be administered by trained personnel – they have an extremely high rate of validity and reliability as selection methods.
Interview – This is the most common form of selection and is often the method which carries most weight – yet they can be very unreliable if not carried out properly. May not give equal chance to candidates if not all asked the same questions. Gives applicant the opportunity to ask questions/assess the organisation also. Factors out with the candidate’s control may impair her/his performance, e.g. poor questions, poor interviewer, environment, interruptions. Gives opportunity to ask ‘ what if?’ scenarios. Interviewers may be biased, e.g. influenced by factors such as family connections, ‘old school tie’, etc. Gives opportunity to probe and question further any points of interest on the application form. Can be subjective – decisions can be based on first impressions, how people look, their accent, etc. Gives opportunity to meet candidates face to face. Disadvantages Advantages
It is essential that interviews are carried out correctly to ensure they are both valid and reliable and there are a number of ways to ensure this is achieved:
use trained interviewers and prepare well for the interview
have more than one person interviewing to get a number of opinions
use the person specification and a scoring system as a guide to measure candidates against and ensure all are measured against the same criteria (criterion-based interviewing)
Of course, organisations will rarely use only one selection technique – most will use a combination such as application forms and interviews. The use of assessment centres by organisations is growing. This is where the short-listed candidates are gathered for one or more days and undergo a number of selection processes, which could include interviews, tests, role-plays, group discussions, etc. Whilst these are very costly and are mostly used for senior management posts, they have proved very reliable.