If you are an owner or a leader of organization, your goal is to select the candidate who will be most successful performing a job. Your secondary, yet still very important goal, is to make the best impression about your company to candidates. They are your potential PR agents, customers, or clients. The better perception they have about the selection process, the more likely that they spread a positive message about your organization.
If the selection process is perceived as unfair or too invasive, the most qualified candidates may withdraw rather than endure it. Disgruntled candidates may develop a negative view of an organization. In a worst case scenario, inappropriate selection procedures may cause employees to file discrimination complaints. Some studies have found that a stressful and unfair selection process can have a detrimental effect on candidates’ health (Ford et al, 2009; Truxillo & Fraccaroli, 2011). A socially responsible organization should strive to avoid such effects on a candidate. Additionally, if the new hire carries negative reactions from the interview process, it may hinder his immediate job performance.
Best employee selection practices are consistent for all applicants and are directly related to the job. Honest, two-way communication with an applicant is essential. Based on an analysis of several studies, Bauer and others (2012)* have proposed a checklist of best practices.
√ Ensure that your selection system is job related. Identify required and preferred KSA’s (knowledge, skills, and abilities), and develop a detailed job description based on those KSA’s. Interview questions, scenarios, and tests should be directly relevant to job. When we try to select a car mechanic, we would not ask him to write an essay!
√ Provide informative explanations to applicants. Provide your applicants with detailed job description and your offered salary range beforehand. Explain key aspects of the interview process, such as how many selection steps a successful candidate would go through and what kind of interviews to expect (one-on-one, group, or hands-on). Let your candidates know about a position start date, and when they should expect to be notified if not selected. Provide your applicants with an opportunity to ask questions about the process.
√ Give applicants a chance to show what they know. Provide applicants with sufficient interview time. Ask detailed questions that may provide you with an in-depth insights about candidates’ experience and skills. Utilize scenarios and role play so applicants can demonstrate knowledge and abilities. Better yet, use “hands-on” interviews, where an applicant can demonstrate his performance real-time.
√ Give timely feedback. Get back to an applicant about your hiring decision within upon an agreed timeframe. When an applicant spends 3 hours of travel and interview time to apply at a company, and then never hears about the outcome, her feelings about that company would probably drop down to a negative side of spectrum.
√ Treat applicants with respect throughout the selection process. Arrive to an interview on time as you would expect the same of your candidate. Be cognizant of your office environment. If you are home based small business, consider using a representable public space, such a library. Open two-way communication from the beginning of the selection process. If you have several staff interviewing candidates, ensure that they are coached on communication skills. Ensure that candidates are not subjected to inappropriate questions about family, religion, or disability. Be honest about what’s expected on a job. If you predict that completion of the job tasks would take at least 60 hours per week, you should be upfront about the expectation during an interview.
√ Ensure the consistency of selection process. Apply the same selection procedures and ask similar questions of all candidates. If you have several staff interviewing applicants, provide them with extensive training on the process. Ensure that all your materials send consistent messages about your organization and the position for which you are hiring.
The closer you follow these guidelines, the better impressions you would make on your candidates. In turn, an attractive organization is more likely to appeal to high qualified candidates.
*Talya N. Bauer, Julie McCarthy, Neil Anderson, Donald M. Truxillo, Jesús F. Salgado (2012). What We Know about Applicant Reactions on Attitudes and Behavior: Research Summary and Best Practices. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc.