Human Resource Management

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Researching Candidates

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' models. (...)

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 applicants.

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 conventionality.

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.
  • Specific disability - instead applicants should be asked to confirm they can do the job.
...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.


  Employee Selection


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