Specialist recruitment expertise

Five different ways employers choose their staff

Employers use a variety of techniques to choose new staff members, over and above the standard CV - Interview - Offer route. What follows are 5 different examples.

Personality Tests

Personality Tests are a selection procedure to measure the personality characteristics of applicants that are related to future job performance. Personality tests typically measure one or more of five personality dimensions: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.

Tests like these can consist of up to 100 questions with a view to finding answers which are most descriptive of the target group or person in question. The idea is to draw out personality styles to assess the potential for the role in question.

Application Forms

Application Forms are commonly used and apply specific techniques for scoring application forms or biographical questionnaires to be used for selection of applicants.

These forms assess background information through a form or questionnaire in order to assess an individual's behavioural reliability, integrity, and personal adjustment. The employer will then assess Applicants' scores, determined by weighting each item according to the item's derived relationship to the criterion of interest.

The application form is very common in roles where a high volume of applications can be expected, such as in graduate recruitment, and in the public sector.

Intelligence Tests

Intelligence Tests, like Personality Tests are paper and pencil based assessments, but seek to measures an individual's general mental ability or intelligence rather than their characteristic suitability.

Tests may include time limits and could involve mathematic or scientific problem solving.

Many tests will contain the same requirements that occur on the job on offer so a direct performance measure can be applied.

Assessment Centres

Assessment Centres typically consist of multiple evaluations including job related simulations, interviews, and possibly psychological tests. Job Simulations are used to evaluate candidates on behaviours relevant to the most critical aspects of the job.

Competency Based Selection

Competency based interviews (also called Structured Interviews) are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to test the candidate's ability to deal with stress by asking first how the candidate generally handles stress and then asking the candidate to provide an example of a situation where he worked under pressure.

Normal interviews are essentially a conversation where the interviewers ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking for but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. Questions are fairly random and can sometimes be quite open. For example, a question such as "What can you offer our company?" is meant to gather general information about you but does not test any specific skill or competency.

In an unstructured interview, the candidate is judged on the general impression that he/she leaves and are therefore likely to be more subjective. Competency based interviews (also called structured or behavioural interviews) are more systematic, with each question targeting a specific skill or competency. Candidates are asked questions relating to their behaviour in specific circumstances, which they then need to back up with concrete examples. The interviewers will then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about the candidate's behaviour or skills.

About the Author: Neil Wilkie is the Group Marketing and Communications Manager for the Fusion People group of companies. You can find out more on Neil's Linkedin or Google+ profile.

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