Picking the Chosen Few


Need to select best person for job

Incorrect decisions lead to costs for company

Morgan & Banks [Human Resource Agency] estimated the cost of hiring the wrong employee, and then firing her/him was about A$16,000 [The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 9/95].

You may have an engineer who is technically extremely competent in one organisation and you hire him or her for your firm and it doesn't work out. The reason is all the warm and fuzzy stuff - they don't do things the way we do, their leadership style is not what we are used to, they don't fit in with the team, they don't make decisions the way we do.

The process needs to be geared to increase probability of successful accepts

May also need to be able to sell job and or company to unwilling, good prospects?


The Process

May be short and internal, or long and involve consultants

Depends on nature, level and risk/outcome of job [see outline on problem solving]

Can consist of all, or some of, in this order, or varied order, or all in one hit, the following. CVs may not be necessary for some jobs and you may use an application form instead - it should be designed so that it reveals the same information.

1. Application letter

2. Curriculum Vitæ [CVs] or Résumés

I tell students that when applying for jobs that they really want, these are the most important documents they willl ever write. I say to assume that there will be 500 applicants all with the same outstanding qualifications for the job - how will the employer pick one?

Consultants with such a large batch will put 90% in the garbage bin, 8% in the possibles, and 2% in the probables, and their initial cursory look at each CV may last for no longer than a minute. The best qualified person for the job may well go into the bin, but if he or she cannot take the trouble to write a CV which attracts attention at the first glance, how will he carry out the job?

If you run a small business and/or your advertisement has been so cleverly worded that you attract only a reasonable number of qualified candidates, you will have time to read all the CVs in detail - but you can still bear these points in mind as possible indicators of the applicants' attitudes.

Even contenders for non-skilled jobs should show you the courtesy, as well as doing themselves a favour, by writing out their resumes or filling in application forms neatly.


You should be looking at


The amount of effort and initiative put into writing the document should itself be an indicator of the same qualities they will show for you.



3. Application Form

Can be added for those selected, if not used already. Whenever designing an application form:

Samples attached - ask yourself if they give all and only the relevant info you would seek as an employer. Would you understand how to fill them in as an applicant - are they ambiguous, do they leave enough room to sell yourself?

The samples are not to scale - you will have to decide how much space to leave for similar information. Neither are they indications of perfect examples - rather, as with the job ads, they are case studies for you to examine and criticise.

Select the bits you like and make up your own form - ask applicants to PRINT or type their responses: then again, if you don't ask and you can't read their writing, do you want to employ them?

 The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form. - Stanley J Randall

[SP Robbins. Managing Human Resources. Prentice Hall, 1986.]

4. Preliminary interview

Interviews generally are most popular, but not a valid predictor

Longer the better, and should be structured [see Outline 16]

Perhaps could involve case study assessment

"Supppose you were faced with ...."

"How would you deal with ...."

Be sure to give all candidates the same questions

Minimise prior knowledge of candidate - particularly if he has been acting in the position for a while, or one internal member up against outsiders. Make sure no one has an unfair advantage - it could be costly!


5. Employment tests

Must be job related, eg typing, using calculator or other tool of trade

Longer work sample tests more valid - but use time and money; eg, could ask them all to come in and work for a day each - beware of legal etc implications.

Use of consultants and psychological assessment tests. Only use reputable agencies and tests - not make up your own or use ones you have read about in the paper etc.

Tend to be for high risk/outcome jobs, or where you need to pick a number of people for eg, telemarketing

May include role plays, simulations

Being used more often, as a safeguard against litigation. You cannot sack someone or not recruit him because he gets right up my left nostril as a chairman of a naval selection board was once heard to say; but you can do it if he is shown not to have the right aptitude by a psychometric test, preferably independent of your company.

Some simple tests can be incorporated into interview - I have a clipping of a man complaining that as a maths graduate applying for a bank job, he was asked to make a house out of Lego. I tell students to accept whatever is given to them and to do their best - the test could be to see how you react under stress, not whether or not you can use Lego! But employers beware!


6. Reference checks

Check of stated facts is worthwhile if possible

Employers may not reveal anything else for fear of privacy laws

May only get a statement of employment dates and position held

Character or work references not worthwhile:


7. Second interview

Anything missing from first

Anything that needs clarification

More detailed examination of previous experience, abilities, skills etc

More searching examination of how they would do the job, fit into the team ...


8. Medical

Must be job related - see ad for mail officer

Can be given earlier or later - if required at all

Worthwhile considering obtaining a statement - perhaps on an application form - that applicant knows of no reason why she/he could not do the job - no previous medical problem affecting same? There are some who get jobs just to later claim the workers compensation etc and you have to try to protect yourself - check with your lawyer.


9. Final interview

Tiny short list, or chosen candidate only

Discuss specific details of job

Pay and conditions if not all ready covered

Transport and removals

Check availablity to start; give brief indoctrination - where when etc


10. Selection decision

Select the best person for the job.

Have at least one stand by in case this person refuses.

Keep all documents until:


Quality of Selection Devices as Predictors

[SP Robbins. Managing Human Resources. Prentice Hall, 1986.]

Scale is 5 highest to 1 lowest.

Selection Device


Senior management
Middle & lower management
Complex, non-managerial
Routine operative

Application form


Traditional paper & pencil tests




Verification of application data


Reference checks


Physical examnation


Feel free to be flexible. Use what suits you, omit that which you feel is irrelevant. Match your strategy to the job in hand - don't use the same strategy for all jobs at all levels.


Go on to Conducting Interviews

Return to Advertising the Position

Return to Selecting Staff

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