Selection – The pitfalls and how to avoid them
Recruitment and Selection
From our last blog, we know that people use this phrase daily in organisations without fully understanding it. It’s not always clear what the difference between recruitment and selection is. And whilst not completely essential on a day to day basis an understanding of the terms could help us to split the process into manageable chunks and achieve better results.
So, what’s the difference?
Recruitment is about attraction. That is attracting the best possible candidates to apply for the vacancy. Depending on the number of vacancies or the skill levels required in the role, this might involve sufficient numbers of applicants replying to your recruitment campaign or just a handful of people whose skills match those required.
Selection is about sifting, shortlisting and choosing the best candidate for the job. Here’s how to do this……
- This happens when you have received a pile (hopefully) of applications forms or CVs. The first step is sifting through the forms (Paper or online) and making some decisions about the quality of the application and calibre of the candidate. A more detailed shortlisting takes place based on a list of requirements taken from the job description and person specification. Using standard shortlisting criteria helps to eliminate bias from your process.
- Interviews – research shows that interviews are not the best predictor of successful job performance. Yet, we choose to use this method, making it the most widely used selection tool. Interviews are full of pitfalls. This can be from the interviewer having a bad day, being inexperienced at interviewing or being unaware of their biases. Or it could be that the candidates have misread the dress code and turned up dressed to impress in a suit, whilst the interview panel are casually dressed. Or maybe the candidate is just stressed and can’t articulate their experiences. The opposite of this can also be true when the candidate ‘talks the talk but can’t walk the walk’. They’re able to talk their way through the interview, provide detailed answers to your competency based questions, only to fail when they’re in position. Whatever the reason, interviews alone are not the answer.
- Other mainstream selection methods include assessment centres, psychometric tests and job trials. Alternative methods include using biodata, graphology and even astronomy!
Why should we care?
When we use additional selection methods, we should design them to test for the skills required for the role. All have their own downsides, however, they can help to identify those actors/actresses who can sail through the interview stage.
We should care because employment law governs selection and can be costly! However there are many other reasons. Managers should conduct the selection processes professionally as a poor interview experience can undermine your employer brand as the candidates share their poor experiences with other potential customers or future applicants.
The cost of interviewing a candidate was estimated at between £700 and £800 (per candidate) in 2016, with the total cost of the whole recruitment and selection process ranging from £3000 to £8000 for a senior manager.
Consequently, choosing the wrong person can also be costly to the business. The result of this can include poor performance, reduced productivity, low-quality products or services, dissatisfied customers and low employee morale amongst co-workers, all worth avoiding!
Employment law governs the process and employments tribunals can and do award compensation to those who have been dealt with unfairly during the selection process. A solicitor and his company were at the centre of a high profile case in 2016. The court ordered that the candidate should receive a £20,000 award following a proposal of marriage during the job interview! (AA Solicitors Ltd (T&A AA Solicitors) & Anor v Majid UKEAT/0217/15/JOJ. A further instruction was that the solicitor should attend an Equal Opportunity training course which should include sexual harassment. This is surely the type of publicity to avoid!
What can you do?
- Make your line managers aware of the correct processes. Provide training on the elements of the selection processes including practice sessions on how to conduct, rate or score interviews and other selection processes.
- Provide training on how to avoid discrimination in the process. Use recent cases to highlight that this is a reality rather than something that could never happen to them.
- Raise awareness of bias because we are all subject to unconscious bias. We can only start to tackle them and manage them once we are aware of them.
- Use standardised and structured approaches to help remove the biases. Although these need to be balanced with a degree of flexibility to help get the best out of the candidates.