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A Practical Guide to Candidate Selection Process

22 min read

The Selection Process is a process of picking the right candidate with the required qualifications and capabilities to fill a particular job in the organization. 

A good selection process is the key to finding the right talent that forms the spine for effective performance of the organization. 

The selection process can be quite lengthy and complex as it involves a number of steps before getting to the point of final selection. The process of selection does vary between company to company and sometimes even between department to department. 

The selection process is designed keeping in mind the urgency of filling the position and the competencies of the job role. 

What is the Selection Process? 

The goal of the selection and recruitment process in an organization is to find and hire the best talent for the open job vacancies. This process follows a funnel structure.  

Imagine you are looking for a new hire for an existing role – your current employee has decided to pursue another opportunity. You need to find a replacement. If about 50 people apply for the job opening, about 5 of them will be shortlisted and interviewed and finally, one person would get the job offer. 

An organization’s candidate selection process always starts with the job opening. Every job opening should have a clearly defined job description. Based on the job description, it should include the criteria of eligibility, like years of work experience needed, educational background, and proficiency in certain skills. 

Once the job opening is published and advertised, candidate applications flow in – hopefully! This point is where the selection funnel starts. The selection process in HRM occurs in a series of steps through which the candidates move. A selection funnel consists of several stages. Not every candidate makes it through to every stage, of course. Let’s go over these stages one by one. 

Stages in the selection process

Depending on the company or the industry or sometimes even the department, the number of stages in the process may vary, however, here’s a list of stages that is pretty common across the board. 

It is not always the case that all the stages are involved in a selection process. 

There are a couple of stages that take place in the backend before the beginning of the funnel. These may not be included in all the selection process stages but these are not to be ignored or taken lightly. 

Stages In Employee Selection Process Infographic

Manpower Requisition

The first stage in the selection process starts even before the start of the funnel. The first stage that the HR needs to plan out is the Requisition. 

The HR need to identify where they have a requisition for a role in the first place. Based on that they then would have to identify whether they need to hire for a new role or if they need to hire a replacement for an existing role. 

It is important to identify this as the selection stages may vary based on the roles, sometimes the order in which the process flows may also vary from role to role. 

Once the HR identifies the nature of the role, they then have to work on the budgeting. Everything in a business has a set budget for it and selection and recruitment is no exception for it. 

The budgeting process requires the involvement of more stakeholders in the company. 

Sourcing

The second stage in the process that happens in the backend before the start of the funnel is Sourcing. 

Sourcing is an integral part of the process as it can determine the quality of hire. The recruiter has many ways to source a candidate and based on the past data they can identify the best way to source a candidate based on the nature of the job. 

Sourcing is the key to filtering out the right candidates for the right role, it evidently does not make sense to source or select an over-qualified or an underqualified candidate for a job. 

Sourcing keeps in check that the right candidates are sent in the selection pipeline, for technical or non-technical roles. 

Application 

After the requisition is identified and your sourcing channels are in place, you can then advertise your job opening and double check for any errors. 

However, the number of applications, the quality of candidates and the diversity of the applicants are huge variables. 

Some of these variable factors are beyond your influence and an HR. The social factors like the region you are hiring in, the local labor laws and any other rules set by the ruling government are a few of the examples of this. 

The HR department of a public hospital looking to hire nurses when the burnout is high is more challenging when compared to video game company looking for a graduate developer who can work remotely. 

The number of applications that you receive can be anywhere from zero to thousands depending on the size of the company, the industry, and the type of job. It also depends on how successful your sourcing strategy and employer brand are. 

You also need to evaluate how good your application process itself is. Is it mobile friendly? Is it online only? Or do you require the candidates to report at a specific location to be able to apply? 

You will need to test out your application process yourself to understand the pain points and figure out a way to make it smoother to provide the best application experience. 

Screening 

The second stage in the selection funnel is the initial screening process. The goal of this step is to reduce the large pool of candidate applications and a smaller manageable number of candidates that can be assessed and interviewed. 

Resume screening is one of the most commonly used methods of screening which helps in assessing whether the candidate that applied for the job meets the criteria. 

This method, however, can be time consuming if you are an HR in a large company, in which case an AI screening tool would be of great help. One must make sure not to overuse such technology to eliminate bias. 

After the initial resume screening you can move on to phone screening where the recruiter has a word with the potential hires, this helps in setting expectations between candidate and the employer. 

The recruiter can ask the candidate a list of questions including Pay expectations, work time flexibility, starting date and identify any potential deal breakers. 

As technology has evolved and the questions are pretty standard, a chatbot can be used for this as well (in the case of a large organization). 

Employment test/assessment 

The next stage of the funnel is to test the screened and shortlisted candidates with relevant assessments to check their competency for the job they have applied for. 

This helps in weeding out the potential mismatches. The assessments can include cognitive tests, job simulations and other relevant tests for the job which help determine the quality of the new hire. 

Tests like a job simulation show the candidate both the enjoyable part of the job and the challenges that they might face, giving them an authentic insight into the role. 

It also helps in setting the expectations between the employee and employer and it benefits the recruiter as they would be able to select the candidates that are a stronger fit. 

A good assessment process includes not only those that test their ability to do the job but also those that help you understand if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture as well. 

Having one or two personality tests helps you determine the candidate’s cooperativeness and gives you an insight into how good of a team player they are. 

Scoring 

After the potential candidates have taken the assessments and submitted them, it’s time for scoring the assessments and tests. 

The scoring should involve all the interview panelists to double check and avoid any kind of bias. 

The way to score an assessment may depend on the test itself, depending on how nuanced the job is, the assessments may differ and so does the scoring. 

It is easier to have a different person score each aspect of the candidate assessment for more efficient and accurate scores. 

You may also include a cut off to eliminate all those candidates who fail to meet the minimum score and proceed ahead with moving forward those candidates who do.  

Interview 

The fifth step in the selection funnel is the most obvious one which is the interview, where the candidate has a direct interaction with their reporting manager or the recruiter or sometimes both. 

The interview process gives an insight into the person and helps you judge their verbal fluency and sociability. It also provides an opportunity to question the candidate about the job and helps you sell the job as well. 

The interviews may be conducted virtually or in-person. Thanks to today’s technology and access to the internet, we are able to conduct interviews remotely from anywhere, helping us to be cost and time efficient 

Regardless of how you conduct the interview, you must make sure that you do not miss anything from your end. To ensure everything is being done from your end, you may follow our Interview Checklist. 

There are two ways to conduct the interviews, Structured interviews and non-structured interviews. 

In a structured interview, you would have a standard set of questions to ask the candidate and evaluate their responses accordingly. 

A non-structured interview is more like a conversation you have with the candidate, talking about the job and getting to know them to understand their personality and their perspective on the job. 

Both methods are equally effective, however you can switch between the methods depending on the job you are hiring for. 

Shortlisting 

Once you are done with the interview process, you can then go ahead and evaluate the interview results based on the notes you have made during the interview. 

One of the most common and effective methods of evaluating the interviews that help you in shortlisting the candidates is the STAR method. 

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result 

The STAR method is a great way to test the candidate’s experience in different situations that are relevant to the job.  

After you have all the clear results you should be able to sort them through and shortlist the candidates that can move forward to the next stage and weed out those who don’t make the cut. 

Reference and Background Verification 

At this stage, you should have reduced a large number of applicants and shortlisted a handful of candidates that are most likely to get the job. 

However, before you make the final decision and roll out the offer, there’s a very crucial stage of the selection funnel which cannot be ignored. 

References and background checks are a way to verify what the candidate has told you is true. You can ask the candidate to give you a reference directly and follow up on them. 

If during the interview you feel doubtful about certain competencies in the candidate, a reference check is a great way to gather more data and get a different perspective. 

A background check enables you to understand where the candidate comes from and helps you determine if they can be a good fit for the company culture. 

It can be a prerequisite and be part of your pre-selection process as well. However, unless they are absolutely necessary, the background checks can be delayed. 

Decision making 

It’s not always the case that you will end up with only one potential candidate at the end after going through all the stages of the funnel, it is quite possible that you end up with more eligible candidates than you require. 

This is when the decision making comes into place, you need to have discussion with all the panel members and ensure that you give the offer to is the most deserving candidate. 

You need to have strong reason to support why you are selecting the candidate that you are selecting and likewise, you need strong reasoning to support why you are rejecting the ones that you are rejecting. 

Once you have a discussion and come to a strong conclusion on which candidate to select, you can move ahead to the final stage in the selection process. 

Offer Rollout 

After the decision is made the selection process isn’t over yet. The candidate also needs to accept the offer. 

The organization at this point should have all the information that will make the candidate likely to accept the offer. 

The offer is then made to the candidate and a contract is drawn up that needs to be signed by both the employer and the candidate. Once all the parties involved have signed the contract, is when the selection process is complete. 

Engagement  

Although we have discussed all the stages in the funnel and the stages before the funnel, there is yet one more stage that plays a role throughout the entire process of selection. 

This stage is the engagement. It is vital for the recruiters to keep the candidates engaged from time to time at all the stages so that they do not second guess their decision and the organization can avoid ghost profiles.  

Having this in place you can ensure that your efforts don’t go in vain. 

Metrics used in selection process 

Several important metrics should be tracked when it comes to the candidate selection process. These indicate how your HR department’s performance is in the selection process. Some of these metrics are: 

Time to fill

This metric focuses on the time it takes to find and hire a candidate from the time job requisition is approved until the time of candidate accepting your offer. The longer the time to fill is the more you need to work in making your selection process more efficient. 

90-day attrition

A clear indication of a bad hire – that you are an organization would be responsible for is if there is attrition within the first three months.
The cost estimates of a bad hire depend on the sources but are estimated to range between 50% to 200% of their yearly salary.
It is suggested to treat every 90-day attrition case as a critical HR incident that needs analysis and should be prevented the next time through better communication, selection, onboarding, and management.  

First-year attrition

Similar to the 90-day attrition where the observation is expanded over a year. 

Candidate experience

It is important to know how the candidates would rate their experience in your selection process?
Candidates are often a fan and/or customer of your brand which is why they want to work for you in the first place!
Hence it becomes an important indicator to know how happy or unhappy the candidates are with their experience.  

Selection process funnel effectiveness

It helps to know the effectiveness of the funnel since the selection goes through a funnel with multiple steps.
You don’t want an entire 50% of your applicants to pass through to the interview stage, otherwise, you’ll be interviewing for the full year!
The yield ratio is a recruiting metric that shows the percentage of candidates that move from one stage to the next in the recruitment process. Yield ratio is a valuable way of examining how efficient your candidate selection process is.   

Quality of hire

This metric is used to measure how well the new hire is performing in their job after a year.
This is usually rated by their reporting manager in the annual performance review.
If the quality of hire is consistently good, it is a clear indication that the selection process works. 

Conclusion  

One of the key contributions that HR can provide to the business is selecting and hiring top candidates as it is the key to the long-term viability of an organization.  

Having a strong recruitment and selection process gives you a competitive advantage for the organization.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does the selection procedure for the vacancy normally take? 

The selection process takes approximately a month and a half from the beginning (posting a job advertisement) to the end of the process (selection and confirmation of the selected candidate). 

How does the selection process work in HRM? 

The selection process refers to the steps involved in choosing people who have the right qualifications to fill a current or future job opening. 

How do you make selection effective? 

So here are some tips to develop an effective selection process: 

  1. Understand the Job. Start with an understanding of the job and the traits that differentiate successful performance on the job.  
  2. Develop a Process and Use it Consistently.  
  3. Identify Valid Tools. 
  4. Train HR Staff.  
  5. Monitor Your Process. 

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    Meet the author

    Balaji Sogathur

    Trying to get my head out of the world of anime and manga and adding bit of that flavor in my work is not just fun but also satisfying. My ignition on the creative engine never goes off, maybe you’ll see a bit of that in my puns.

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