A successful selection process requires the same three elements. This maxim holds true whether you are about to select a new employee or a new car. You need to:

1. Know exactly what you seek
2. Capture accurate, relevant information for comparison
3. Vet alternatives using a consistently applied process


Know Exactly What You Seek

After more than 30 years in HR roles, I firmly believe this is the most critical step to get right. If you absolutely need a 7-seat SUV, looking at pickup trucks is just a waste of time. This may seem obvious, but if you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you’ve found it? Or, said another way, like the proverbial Cheshire cat told Alice, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. 

This factor is even more important when selecting talent for a role. There are so many variables to consider that first gaining clarity on what constitutes an “Ideal Candidate Profile” can save you much time and frustration. This Ideal Profile should be created jointly by all those who will participate in the selection decision. That allows you to get all parties on the same page, looking for the same criteria before you start to recruit. 

A job profile is different than a job description. To be effective, this needs to be a metric-driven set of criteria, required for success in this role, that you can then use as a means to compare and rank potential candidates. Ideally your profile will articulate what makes this role unique and therefore must be based on job performance. Having tried dozens of approaches, I’ve found that creating a Role Benchmark is the best way to set you up for success. We use a patented process designed by TTI Success Insights® that is tied to job performance and uses sciences to describe what constitutes an ideal candidate. We typically consider up to four categories: the top behaviors, driving forces (motivators), competencies, and acumen required in a candidate for them to be successful in a specific role. 

Regardless of what approach you take, the greater the clarity, the more likelihood that you’ll be able to determine the best candidates. An added bonus is that your profile can give you clear direction on how to advertise for candidates that will be attracted to the opportunity.


Capture Accurate Data For Comparison

Once you have created your ideal profile, you must have a means to determine how well your applicants stack up against your benchmark. There are many tools and processes available today that will generate data. Whichever approach you decide is best for you must meet certain key criteria.

  • Reliability – generates consistent results
  • Validity – generates accurate results
  • Relevant – results can be compared against your benchmark
  • No Adverse Impact – process does not discriminate against any protected class
  • Easy – simple for candidates to access using a device of their choice (cell phone, laptop, tablet, desktop, etc.) and simple for you to implement and interpret
  • Not onerous – requiring reasonable time commitment from candidates and staff

The output should interpret the results for you and ease your burden not increase it.


Vet Alternatives Using A Consistently Applied Process

I have found the absence of this element to be a hidden cause for selection process failure. Whether your process is limited to phone screens and interviews, or if you use a comprehensive series of selection tools (case studies, role plays, interactive trials, other assessments, work demonstrations, applied assignments, etc.), what matters most is how consistently the measures are applied by each rater. In other words, does each person tasked with assessing candidates make their hire/no hire recommendation based on the same criteria? 

Now that you’ve reduced your applicant pool to viable candidates who are close to the ideal candidate profile, it is vital that you ensure all those involved in the final vetting process are consistent. Are your assessors using a common denominator for comparison purposes when they offer their candidate feedback? Do you hold consensus meetings so that all participants hear the feedback from others and have an opportunity to agree or refute the findings of others? Have they all received the same training and are they using a similar scorecard?

Reviewing your selection process to ensure you incorporate these three key elements can produce a step-function improvement in the quality of your new hires.