The purpose of the candidate selection process is to assess capability and fit, share the organization’s story, explain the role, and, ultimately, select the best candidate for the job.
This process is affectionately called “dating.”
It starts with an initial introduction (the job posting and resume review), goes onto the first date, and then ends with a final commitment. It can go either way and be called off at any stage by either party.
If you want it to go well and lead to a mutually-beneficial, long-lasting relationship, you need to have a strong candidate selection process that allows both you (the hiring organization) and the candidate to know if it’s the right fit.
To make sure the process leads to the best outcome, follow these tips for improving five phases of your candidate selection process.
#1) The Application Process
In the application process, the job seeker has viewed the role, researched the organization, and applied for the role. The organization’s recruitment team determines if the candidate has the skills for the role and should be pre-screened or declined.
To improve the application process:
- Configure an applicant tracking system (ATS) to identify keywords in resumes that identify candidate skills that match with job requirements.
- Use online screening questions to narrow the pool even further. Ask applicants to answer relevant questions about their qualifications and eligibility to work in a particular country.
- Utilize well-written job descriptions that target five to seven critical skills that will help identify what keywords to use in the ATS.
Once candidates have been shortlisted to pre-screen, I also recommend going back to the resume pool when recruiting for hard-to-fill positions. There may be diamonds in the rough that the talent team can cultivate a relationship with.
#2) The Pre-screen Interview
The pre-screen interview is the first opportunity for the candidate and the organization to begin the courting process. Besides confirming resume information, job history, and salary expectations, the recruiter should be screening for cultural fit and confirming technical specifications at this point in the candidate selection process.
The pre-screen interview allows you to start to rank skills and capabilities prior to the first round of interviews. The ranking helps hiring managers probe on technical and behavioral components during the interview process.
The person recruiting for this role is an ambassador for the organization. They should be providing the candidate with a realistic portrait of the company’s culture, the employer brand, and the team the incumbent is applying to work for. This role should be involved in the entire recruitment cycle as they should be managing the candidate relationship to address any questions or concerns during the process.
#3) The Candidate Assessment
In this step of the candidate selection process, administer tests to further qualify candidates and rank their skills. Tests can be effective if they are used appropriately and not utilized in isolation to make a hiring decision.
- Psychometric testing is valuable if there is a tie to the role and organization values. Once the candidate completes the assessment, a guide is generated to probe based on strengths and opportunities. These guides should be used in conjunction with specific behavioral interview skills (i.e., competencies for roles).
- Administer tests to determine technical competence in a particular skill. This is especially helpful when using a particular program or tool (i.e., using Microsoft Excel to manipulate data).
- Have the applicant complete a case study or a project. The purpose is to show hiring managers the applicant’s technical, presentation, or strategic skills.
These are tools in a toolbox to be used with other resources to determine if the candidate is right for the role and company.
For example, before I hired a learning development professional, I asked them to teach me any subject they wanted. They had ten minutes. It was valuable as I was able to see them facilitate a session as well as understand how they designed a course.
#4) The Interview Process
At this point, interviewing is used to help assess candidate skills and cultural fit into the organization.
The most common method of interviewing is behavioral based interviews. Using this approach, ask candidates to draw on past experiences to answer questions. It helps the interviewer understand the person’s ability to adapt, collaborate, and lead. Studies have shown that past behavior and performance is a strong indicator of future performance and fit into the organization.
Create a structured interview process where every candidate is evaluated against the same criteria. Score every individual based on the same measurement. This is advantageous because:
- It eliminates bias to a degree
- It’s tied to role competency and organization culture
- It’s focused on past performance
- It embraces diversity as subjectivity is taken out
Train your managers and leaders on how to conduct interviews properly. Have a seasoned, effective interviewer sit in on some candidate interviews to provide coaching support to managers after the interview in a constructive way when necessary.
Whether your organization process is to conduct a panel or have multiple interviews, a recommendation is to have the final candidates meet with their potential team to determine fit. It helps build relationships immediately and gives the team an opportunity to provide input on a candidate. This process may not be needed for every position, however it is advantageous when teams collaborate closely together.
#5) Throughout the Entire Process
The key to creating a strong candidate selection process is communicating with the applicant at each phase of the process. Communication with the candidate pool is critical at every stage. Every candidate should be contacted at every stage of the process to let them know the status. This can be done through ATS in the early stages.
Candidates often comment on their social media feeds about how they never heard back from an organization weeks after an interview. Organizations lose engagement from the candidate and even if an offer is made, it sometimes leaves a sour note in the candidate’s experience. Don’t ghost the applicants after all the time and effort they put into the process.
Reap The Benefits of a Stronger Candidate Selection Process
Interviewing and selecting the right candidate is a time-consuming, and sometimes, difficult process from start to finish. But finding the right candidate is worth it. The right candidate can be the reason your organization is able to satisfy customer needs, make sales targets, or lead a team to success.
Put effort into improving each step of the candidate selection process, and it will pay off.