Based on Human Resource Management (4th Edition) by Alan Price -
published by Cengage
This section looks at the early stages of the selection process
- often called pre-selection. The recruitment campaign should have attracted a pool of
applicants from which selectors can make their choice. If a job analysis has been conducted, the
criteria or competences which are deemed necessary have been identified. These may be well
defined and focused on experience and skills, as in the 'right person' approach; or general and
related to education, intellect and personality for the 'cultural fit' and 'flexible person'
If the recruitment process is open, selection decision-making normally takes place
in a series of stages. Recruitment marketing may attract hundreds - sometimes thousands -
of responses. The first decision stage is termed pre-selection. Its purpose is to reduce applications
to a manageable number with the emphasis on rejection rather than selection.
Evidence is gathered from letters, résumés/CVs, application forms and possibly bio-data or
screening tests. Preselection increasingly involves telephone screening interviews, ranging
from basic checking of information supplied in the application process to a 20-minute question
and answer sequence not unlike the formal interview. Regardless of the methods used,
the intention is to arrive at a comparatively small number - the shortlist of apparently wellsuited
Application letters and CVs/resumes
These are typically used for initial or speculative
applications. There are significant cultural differences between different cultures in the way
these are prepared. Applicants should be careful to use the style expected in the recruiters'
country. For example, recruiters in France will frequently expect short, factual education and career
histories. They tend not to want the hobbies or sports interests which also feature in
applications from job-seekers in the UK, USA and other countries influenced by the British
tradition. Some countries use photographs at this stage, others are concerned about the equal
opportunity implications and discourage this practice.
The first stage in your application will require a resume (North America) or a CV
(elsewhere and also for professional jobs).
Application forms (blanks)
Both letters and CV/resumes present a problem for a large
recruitment exercise: applicants may not provide all the relevant information and what there is
will be presented in different ways. Comparison of applicants is easier if data is presented in
a standard application form (blank).
(...) Candidates face a paradox.
Because information is regimented into a particular order and restricted space, job-seekers may
present very similar applications. (...) if candidates do not include details which distinguish
them from the (sometimes hundreds of ) others they stand little chance of being shortlisted.
Conversely, if their responses are too unorthodox the form immediately becomes a test of
Legal requirements vary from country to country.
In the USA, for example, questions about the following could be regarded as discriminatory:
- Ethnicity, national origin or religion.
- Age or date of birth - instead applicants should be asked if they are above the minimum
legal working age.
- Marital status.
- Education - only acceptable if required by the job.
- Record of arrests - because ethnic minority group members are more likely to be arrested
than the general population.
- Credit rating - because ethnic minority group members are more likely to have
poorer credit ratings than the general population.
- Photograph - because they identify gender, ethnic or national origin.
- Height and weight - because there are significant differences between the sexes and
between different racial groups.
disability - instead applicants should be asked to confirm they can do
...educational qualifications are of major importance in some cultures, for example France and Japan.
In other countries their value varies, depending on the level and nature of the vacancy.
One study found that UK graduate recruiters used qualifications as a shortlisting criterion,
and then sought skills and competences in the later stages of selection.
With an increase in coaching, applications have become more and more similar.
Sometimes applicants may seem much the same on paper, but some have greater initiative or
people skills than others. Biodata (biographical data) forms have been developed to
identify non-academic activities such as these. Biodata consists of systematic information
about hobbies, interests and life history. (...)
The main use of biodata is in the pre-selection of basic-level jobs such as apprentices
or graduate trainees. The logic is that if candidates are matched with existing staff,
people with similar interests can be found who are likely to be suitable for the job.
The greatest value of the techniques is its ability to reduce staff turnover.
Virtually all employers request references as a matter of course, usually
without any thought as to their purpose or value.
Where a purpose is expressed, they tend to serve one or both of the following functions:
- To provide a factual check to maximise the probability of a truthful application
- To provide evidence of character or ability
There is a growing and welcome trend for references to be simple factual checks rather than a
source of 'evidence' for the selection process.
There is also an issue regarding a referee's liability for the consequences of their comments.
This varies from country to country.