The 12 most effective employee selection methods for recruiters and hiring managers

Written by Bruno Boksic
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Effective hiring can be the difference between a successful business and one that lags behind. So it’s essential that you use effective employee-selection methods such as skills assessments to hire the best possible candidates for your organization. 

And this article will help you with that. We will go over the best employee selection techniques, strategies, and tools to help you build a streamlined and objective recruitment process.

But first, we’ll start by defining what employee selection actually is.

What is employee selection?

Employee selection is a process by which a company decides if a candidate is good enough to fill an open position in the organization. In this process, the company’s representatives (usually members of the HR team) will identify, assess, and analyze the candidates to see whether their skills would match the job they’re hiring for. 

Even though this is usually something that the HR team does, the process can vary from company to company. Different organizations might have very different processes when it comes to assessing their candidates. 

During the recruitment process, the hiring team will look into the open role and decide which skills to assess in candidates. Each role will require a different skill set; for example, if you’re hiring software engineers, they won’t necessarily need excellent customer-service skills, but they’ll need strong technical and programming skills. 

So, during the hiring process, you need to use the right assessment tools to test the relevant competencies for the job they’re applying for. 

On top of this, you’ll need to take into account other elements such as the hiring budget of your organization and the available resources (people, tech, time).

And lastly, the selection method will also vary based on the seniority of the position. There will be additional steps when hiring a senior or an executive when compared to hiring for an entry-level or a junior position in the company. 

With that in mind, let’s go over the nine fundamental elements of the candidate hiring process to see how you can effectively select the best candidates. 

The 9 steps of the candidate selection process

The following nine steps will guide you through the recruitment process, help you hire the best people, and enable you to improve it continuously.

9 steps of the candidate process from application to job offer

1. Application

The first step is employee application. Your marketing and HR teams will need to work in unison to craft the best job description and upload it to the most relevant job boards for your industry in order to attract the best candidates. 

The goal of the application process isn’t to get a lot of applications, but to get the right applications. It’s better to get 20 applications from people whose skills match the role than to get 1000 misaligned applications. 

2. Resume screening

The second step is resume screening. Many companies nowadays are starting to remove this part from recruitment, because they realized that resume screening is by itself a faulty process.

Making decisions based on resumes is not ideal, because they’re not a good indicator of skills. Add unconscious bias on top of that and it might as well look like a coin toss. 

3. Skills assessment tests

A better way to select your future employees is to use skill assessments, i.e. pre-employment tests that you tailor to each role. If you use a high-quality skills testing platform such as TestGorilla, this enables you to be precise and objective in your hiring decisions. 

And skills assessments are better predictors of job success than resumes, intelligence, or even educational level. 

4. Screening calls

Screening calls are a part of the hiring process where the HR manager will assess whether the candidate has all the necessary “check marks” to be considered for the job. 

For example, if a job absolutely requires a driver’s license, it makes sense to screen candidates for this requirement early on. (Hint: With TestGorilla, you can do that during the skills assessment phase, by manually adding qualifying questions to tests). 

Screening calls also enable you to get an initial “feel” of the candidate’s communication skills and style. For this, you can also use a Communication test

5. Interviews

During interview sessions, HR managers will ask relevant questions to their candidates in order to see if they’re the best match for the open role. Interviews can come in multiple forms such as structured interviews, work sample tests, live coding (for programmers), group assessments, and more.

6. Background checks

Once the interview phase is over, it’s time to do background checks for your top candidates. Check your candidate’s past working experience and verify the claims they made during interviews and on their resumes. 

7. Reference checks

A reference check, similar to a background check, serves to understand what it would be like to work with a specific candidate. A reference check usually analyzes how a candidate operates on three different levels: as a subordinate, as a manager, and as a peer. 

To do a reference check, you need to contact previous employers (with the permission of the applicant).

8. Decision

Now it’s time to decide which candidate(s) you’re going to hire for the job. There are a lot of elements that go into making a hiring decision: 

  • Are they the right culture add to the company?

  • Do they share the same values? 

  • Do they have the right technical skills?

  • Are they good communicators?

9. Job offer

And the last element of the employee-selection process is the job offer. Once you’ve decided who your best candidate is, it’s time to offer them the job, negotiate the salary, and discuss a starting date. Once you reach an agreement and sign the contract, you can plan for the onboarding process.

6 employee selection strategies that actually work

Now that we went over the elements of the candidate-selection process, it’s time to discuss the different strategies you can use to find the best hires for your team. 

So, what are the most effective recruitment and selection strategies? Below, you’ll find the top six. 

The most effective recruitment and selection strategies

1. Internal recruitment

When a job opportunity opens in your company, your HR team first needs to check if the role requires external recruitment – or whether internal recruitment would be a better strategy in this case. 

With external recruitment, you’re deciding to bring in a new employee to the company. With internal recruitment (which you can simplify by building an internal talent marketplace), you’re looking at moving an employee from one role to another. This can be a great way to engage and motivate your employees – and show them that they have room to grow in the company.  

2. Boomerang hiring

Boomerang hires are employees who have already worked in that specific role for that specific company (employer A) in the past. After having worked at another organization (employer B), they are now looking to work for employer A again. They’re well accustomed to the role and understand what it takes to be successful in the job. 

You usually see boomerang hires in the service industry where seasonal work reigns supreme. Although, it’s not uncommon for people to do it even for executive roles (for example, fractional CMOs).

3. Direct vs. social recruiting channels

There are also different distribution channels that you can use to find candidates for your open role. 

A direct recruiting channel is an online job board or even your company’s website.

Using a social recruiting channel means leveraging social media platforms to promote open roles at your company. For this, you can simply post about the opening and make sure you engage with everyone who comments to get better exposure. 

Both channels can work, you just need to know your exact audience to understand which approach would work best for your open role. 

4. Apprenticeships and internships

A great way to find new employees is to host apprenticeships and internships. You’ll be able to teach your interns or apprentices how to do the work successfully and they’ll get to know the company – while both sides have the opportunity to evaluate whether they’re a good fit.  

After someone finishes an internship, if you see they have what it takes to be successful in your company, you can open a job position for them and hire them in your company full-time. Internships are a win-win strategy: Interns get the experience they need and you get to train potential employees (while still retaining the freedom to offer a full-time position only to the best ones). 

Just make sure to provide interns with the right mentors.

5. Reaching out to former applicants 

Just because a candidate wasn’t qualified for a role years ago, doesn’t mean that they’re not qualified today. A lot can change with time so it’s always beneficial to stay on good terms with your former applicants. 

Keep a list of your former candidates – especially those who made it to the last stages of the recruitment process – and reach out to them when you open a new role. 

6. Referral networks

Leverage the power of your employees’ referral networks to find strong candidates. 

Your employees are your brand ambassadors who will inevitably share their work experience with others around them and might bring in skilled applicants.

So make sure you share information about new open roles with your employees; they might just get you that perfect candidate. You can also use referral incentives to motivate your team members to reach out to their networks. 

The best 12 employee selection techniques for choosing top talent

Now that we’ve discussed some high-level employee-selection strategies, let’s look into the details. The following 12 techniques will help you choose the best talent during your hiring process. 

The best techniques to help you in the hiring process of top talent

1. Pre-employment tests

The first – and perhaps the best – employee-selection technique is to use pre-employment tests. They are one of the best predictors of job success, even better than educational levels, resumes, or general intelligence. 

The best thing about pre-employment tests is that you can use them early on in the hiring process to determine which candidates have the right skills. This way, you won’t have to waste your time or the candidate’s time if they’re not the right fit for the role. 

And if you use TestGorilla, you’ll get results in a numerical form, meaning that you can compare candidates with ease. 

2. Situational-judgment tests

Situational-judgment tests will help you assess how well candidates can solve problems in the workplace. 

Today’s employees will deal with a lot of problems and challenges on a daily basis, so regardless of whether their main duties are to communicate with other departments, handle customers’ queries, or develop new products and services, they need strong situational-judgment and problem-solving skills to succeed. 

Make sure you test this out during the recruitment process, for example with our situational-judgment tests designed to help you specifically with this. 

3. Reference checks

Reference checks provide information about applicants that you can’t get from tests or resumes, and more specifically, input about what it feels like to work with the candidate. Doing a reference check will give you an insight into their skills and the way they tackle day-to-day tasks. 

So, with the candidate’s permission, get in touch with their previous employers. Their managers, subordinates, and peers will give you all the necessary information you need in order to figure out what the person is like in the workplace. 

4. Background checks

Background checks are essentially more thorough reference checks, where companies check an applicant’s criminal records, educational history, and past employment.

Background checks take time and effort, so don’t do them for all candidates. Instead, concentrate on your top candidates that you have already interviewed and who are a good fit. Background checks can help you make a choice when you have a few great candidates whose performance is similar. 

5. Sample work assignments

Work samples are a great way to see how well candidates would perform on the job. 

If they’re applying for a software engineer role, consider giving them a sample assignment to test their programming skills. If they’re applying for a marketing role, you could ask them to write a few ads or plan a mini ad campaign. 

No matter the role, asking candidates to complete a test assignment will give you information on their actual skills and knowledge. 

Just make sure you’re upfront about what the work sample entails, whether candidates will be paid for it, and how much time it takes to complete. 

6. Structured interviews

Interviews, and especially structured interviews, are a great way to assess applicants and see who would do the best on the job. Structured interviews, in which you ask all candidates the same questions in the same order, enable you to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.

This way, you can easily compare candidates’ responses and find out who has the highest potential.

It’s no wonder that companies like Google use structured interviews

7. Job trials

A job trial is time-consuming, but it’s one of the best ways to check whether a candidate is a right match for the role. In trials, candidates work for a specific pre-set time period, usually a few days (but sometimes as long as a month), after which the manager and the hiring team decide whether to hire the candidate or not. 

Since they’re so time-consuming and resource-intensive, job trials have fallen out of practice; in many countries, they have been gradually replaced with trial periods of a few months, during which either the new employee or the company can end the contract easily.

8. Cognitive-ability tests

Cognitive-ability tests assess candidates’ critical thinking, reasoning skills, numerical skills, memory, and more. 

If you use TestGorilla, you can give your candidates different cognitive-ability tests such as the Numerical-reasoning test, Problem-solving test, or a Verbal-reasoning test.

9. Job-related tests

Role-specific tests will help you evaluate applicants’ knowledge in a specific domain. No matter the role that you’re hiring for, candidates with a solid understanding of your industry and the role will be able to get up to speed faster and bring more value to the company in a shorter amount of time. 

No matter whether you’re hiring someone for a role in customer service or in accounting, role-specific tests will enable you to evaluate their skills accurately and objectively. 

10. Personality tests

Personality tests, like the Enneagram Personality test or 16 Personalities test provide in-depth insights into the personalities of your candidates. 

You can use these tests to understand applicants’ behavior and personality traits better, see what their values are, and assess whether they would be able to integrate into your company and add value to its culture. 

11. Phone screenings

Phone screenings can be a great way to assess candidates before you invite them to a formal interview. They enable you to get a deeper understanding of your applicants’ communication style and skills and see whether they’re truly proficient in their area of expertise.

Phone screenings, even though they’re effective, take up a lot of time, so some hiring managers skip this step and use pre-employment tests instead. 

12. Assessment centers

Assessment centers are an employee-selection method that can provide insight into how well candidates perform in a group setting. Essentially, you ask a few candidates to participate and give them a task which they need to tackle together (and therefore work as a team).

Assessment centers are somewhat less stressful than interviews, which means that hiring managers can receive more insights and information about prospective employees. 

The problem with assessment centers is that they take a lot of resources to organize: You have to coordinate with a few candidates and ask them to come to a specific place at the exact same time. On top of that, unconscious bias can result in false positives or false negatives. 

Streamline your employee-selection process and hire better with pre-employment tests

Employee selection can feel like a daunting task, but if you use the right strategies and techniques, you’ll be able to find and hire the best people easily. 

TestGorilla makes that simpler than ever: Thanks to our wide selection of over 300 scientifically-validated tests, you can evaluate applicants’ skills and personality traits quickly and objectively – and be sure you’re making the right hiring decisions every time.

Sign up for a free demo call today and see for yourself how you can streamline your hiring process with TestGorilla.

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