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Selecting & Testing Applicants For Employment: Do's and Don'ts

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale April 21, 2021
Selecting & Testing Applicants For Employment

Recruiters need to make big decisions when finding the right new hires for a business, and having a strong application process supports both the needs of the organisation and the candidates.

To make smarter hiring decisions, recruiters and employers should employ best practice and repeatable strategy, monitoring decisions and performance throughout.

Almost all recruitment processes include some form of pre-recruitment assessment, and recruiters use these to reduce recruitment costs, provide an objective test of skills, aptitudes and work behaviour, and to streamline the candidate pool.

There are several stages of an effective application process, and through the paper sift, pre-employment testing, telephone interviews and face-to-face meetings, there are certain things to think about when selecting an applicant.

The Do's for Selecting Applicants

Measure Skill over Experience

There are certain job roles where experience is necessary; such as management or other leadership roles – but in most cases, skills are more important.

Skills are often listed on an applicant's CV, but testing applicants to ensure that they have the level of skills required for the roles is a good way to make sure the candidates that you choose to take forward through the recruitment process are the best available.

Recruiters can find any number of skill tests that are suitable for the role they are hiring for, from programmers to typing.

Measuring skills, then, is an important thing to remember when you are looking for the best potential employees.

Remove Bias

In most of the stages involved in recruitment, unconscious bias can be a real problem. Each person involved in the process will have their own biases, will ask different questions, and have different ideas about what will make a successful hire.

While getting a personal feel for a candidate is important, keeping bias out of the recruitment process is more important. Having objectivity as the first criteria for those that are dealing with the applicants means that the business has a wider pool to draw from, and can therefore get better candidates.

This might mean having a structured list of requirements in the paper sift or a script of questions to ask in the interviews. It also means ensuring that all candidates face the same pre-employment tests as part of the process and recruiters can get the top applicants to take forward.

Track Metrics

Any business process needs to be tracked and monitored to make sure it is effective and efficient. The metrics of recruitment and employment need to be measured in the same way, and some of the things that should be monitored include the average spend per hire (such as cost of advertising, the time spent by the recruitment team to sift through application forms, and the cost of onboarding) as well as employee turnover.

In testing applicants, metrics can be monitored simply – testing the questions themselves on current employees, seeing how the candidate pool performs, and then how successful candidates go on to perform in their roles after a set period.

Best practice is to ensure that the selection process is quick, effective and efficient, placing candidates to become employees who succeed in the role.

Use Selection Tests

Pre-employment testing can help with all of the above aims - and finding the right tests is ultimately important. Make sure the tests you are considering using are job relevant.

The wrong tests can lead to ineffective recruitment methodology, which in turn will lead to bad hires. The right tests, however, can highlight the best candidates who have the most appropriate skills, aptitudes and personality that is most suitable for the role.

Appropriate testing reduces the time and cost of the process, reducing the candidate pool, and providing a streamlined, objective measure of likely success once hired.

Look for tests that are backed by scientific knowledge, test for the skills and aptitudes that are appropriate to the role, and are simple to administer to a number of candidates early in the employment process.

The Don'ts for Selecting Applicants

don't ghost candidates

Don't Ghost Unsuccessful Candidates

Candidate experience is really important, and one of the most frustrating and disheartening things for those that are looking for work is to make an application and not hear back.

Although as a recruiter you might be dealing with thousands of applications for a role, it is best practice to let candidates know that they have not been successful. This doesn't have to be an in depth feedback report in the early stages, but should be a quick email or phone call to let them know that you will not be taking the candidate further.

Later in the process, it might be more appropriate to give feedback on the candidate's performance and perhaps give constructive criticism so that they understand where they need to improve in order to be successful next time.

Don't Discriminate

In employment, discrimination doesn't necessarily mean just refusing to employ a candidate who has protected characteristics – so it isn't only about having a legally non-discriminatory process, but also keeping unintentional bias out of the process.

While good recruiters should be able to look at an employment candidate and see only their skills and abilities, bias is a difficult thing to work against, so finding a way to look at pure aptitude makes discrimination no longer a problem. In testing and throughout the employment process be prepared to make adjustments to support those who might need them.

The benefit of pre-employment testing is that it is impossible to have any bias or discrimination for candidates as they are almost anonymous. Recruiters are presented with results of the assessments used and can take the top performing candidates through to the next stage, without even needing to meet them.

It is fine to reject candidates who do not have the qualifications, skills, and personality traits to be successful in a role, but it is not best practice (and illegal) to turn away from an applicant who is different from others because they are a woman, are from a different nation or practice another religion.

Don't Create A Bad Candidate Experience

If you want to attract the best candidates, recruiters must create an experience that is straightforward and fulfilling for candidates. This means that at every stage of the recruitment process should be designed with the applicant in mind.

Use clear adverts and simple application forms. Any pre-employment testing should be straightforward for the candidate to complete, and interviews should be arranged to be convenient.

Throughout all of this, be sure that you are remaining in contact and prepared to answer questions about the hiring process so that you create the best possible candidate experience.

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale April 21, 2021

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