Six key design principles for a successful selection process

Mar 17, 2022 | Selection & assessment

A selection process is a complex system made up of many different parts, experts share key design principles to help ensure you get out of it what you want.

Deciding who you want to bring into your organisation is one of the most important aspects of student employment.

People are both the greatest assets and the biggest costs in most businesses. So, choosing who to hire and who to reject will have a major impact on the business.

When you are developing your selection process it can be easy to focus on a particular aspect, but you always need to try and think about the whole process as you design and develop it.

Ideally the whole process should be more than the sum of the parts as together all the different elements are assessing your candidates holistically and identifying which one you want to hire.

Developing or redeveloping a selection process is a complex project. It requires careful management and governance.

You need to think about how the project is going to be managed, what milestones you are going to set and who needs to be involved in the decision-making. In some cases, you will want to formalise this through developing a detailed project plan and establishing a reference group or stakeholder board (perhaps including key leaders in the business who receive entry level staff from you).

As you design your selection process you will also need to think about how this process interacts with your employer value proposition (you can find out more about this in Chapter 4 of ISE’s Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development).

You should design a selection process that not only gives you the talent that you need, but also does it in way that supports the employer value proposition. This is about focusing on candidate experience, but also on how your selection process looks to the outside world.

Here are six key design principles to help ensure you get what you want from your selection process.

1. Less is more

Try not to overload candidates with tests. Every additional test or stage that you add into your selection process increases the cost and makes the candidate experience potentially worse. Longer, more complex, selection processes are also likely to have a negative impact on diversity.

2. Select for potential

Student recruitment should be focused on assessing for potential rather than for pre-existing skills and knowledge. If you get the right candidates you will be able to teach them what they need to know. Don’t expect everything to be in place during recruitment.

3. Ensure relevance

You should design exercises that are relevant to the role. Assess people on things they will need for the role. This improves the validity of your assessments (that your tests actually measure candidate capability) and the candidate experience (people are much happier when they can see that what you are testing connects to the job they are applying for).

4. Attend to the candidate experience

Applying for a job does not have to be a super-fun party. But it should not be a miserable or humiliating experience. Think about how the tests and stages of your assessment process will be experienced by the candidate and how you will actively seek feedback, measure their experience and respond to issues that emerge. It is worth putting yourself through them from time to time to see how it feels.

One thing that repeatedly comes up from candidates is how much developmental feedback is valued. If you can provide any feedback as part of your process it will help candidates to feel positive about participating. Ideally this should give them ways to improve their performance for future opportunities.

If it is appropriate you may also encourage them to apply again for other roles that you have available or for future recruitment rounds. Remember that rejected candidates are your future customers, clients, suppliers and perhaps – later in their career – employees.

5. Selection is a two-way street

It is easy to get focused on your decision about whether a candidate is good enough. But you also need to remember that candidates are deciding whether they want to work for you.

Ideally a candidate should have the opportunity to learn about your organisation and the job they are going to do through the selection process. Providing a clear insight into your culture and working practices is important information for candidates to use in their decision-making. Ideally this is about allowing candidates to understand the reality of what working for you will be like and check that it aligns with their expectations. Being honest is important as offering an unrealistically positive view of working for your organisation risks disappointment and long-term retention problems.

6. Generate and capture data

Selection processes should generate data that you can use to make decisions on candidates, refine your assessment process and learn about the market. Consider carefully what data you are producing, how you are going to capture it and what you are going to do with it.

This is an excerpt from ISE’s Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development

Read more insight and know how from ISE’s Guide



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