In recruitment, impartiality is not just an ethical issue. It can also be a legal matter. For example if an appointment is seen as unfair and a complaint is made, or conversely if a candidate is rejected and, for whatever reason, decides to pull the discrimination card. Therefore, it is important to observe and maintain consistent standards when interviewing and evaluating candidates at all times.
Here are 5 tips to ensure you evaluate your candidates consistently:
1. Thorough screening process
The filtering of all your applications starts with a thorough screening process. The actual assessing then occurs during the interview process. But often it’s during the benchmarking or short listing process where if you are not careful you can in fact make some pretty serious hiring errors.
If you are lucky enough to have selected more than one candidate to invite in for interview, you must ensure that you have some structure around your interviewing process. There is no point asking the first candidate a series of behavioural- or competency-based questions and then asking the other candidate(s) an entirely different set of questions.
2. Consistency in questioning
Each candidate being interviewed for the same position must be asked exactly the same set of questions. And then, like a teacher marking a set of essays, you then need to decide what in your opinion constitutes a very good response, a mediocre response and a mediocre or insufficient response. Having a well-defined performance profile will certainly help you here.
Think of an airline hiring a new team of flight attendants or a bank putting on a new shift in their call centre. The dedicated recruitment team will interview dozens (if not hundreds) of candidates for these roles and each candidate will be asked exactly the same set of questions.
Assuming you are not an airline, bank or hotel chain, even though you might not be looking to hire a group of people, you still need to ensure you have a fair assessment and benchmarking process in place so that ultimately you end up hiring the candidate who literally ticks all the boxes.
3. Have pre-determined selection criteria
Rather than looking at candidates from a subjective point of view, you should evaluate them all equally against a set of pre-determined key selection criteria.
These criteria could include:
- Application documentation – contents of resume and covering letter;
- Knowledge – the knowledge required to successfully perform the role;
- Skills – necessary technical skills;
- Education – the qualifications necessary to perform the role;
- Experience – including industry, career or management experience;
- Personal suitability – how close a ‘fit’ they are with the team dynamic and company culture.
Without wanting to seem overly neurotic, you might even want to create a spreadsheet with the candidates’ names down one side and the key selection criteria, competencies and essential skills along the top. Then you can actually rank each response based on an even scoring process.
4. Interview using the STAR technique
You will also need to establish a rating scale. One easy way to do this is based on the “S.T.A.R” technique where you can rate each of the candidates’ responses out of a possible four points.
For example if the candidate describes the task they were faced with and then what they did to try to solve the problem, they would score 2 out of 4. If they then talked about the actual outcome, this would be 3 out of 4. If they had also explained specifically where they were at the time (the situation) then this would equate to a 4 out of 4. It’s fairly straightforward.
5. Never make an on-the-spot decision
It is also important not to make on the spot decisions. The results of candidate evaluation should be discussed by everyone involved, notes compared and references checked before any decision is reached.
If several candidates are a close match, conduct a second round of interviews and if none of the candidates seem suitable, don’t just select the best of a bad lot. Rather re-advertise the position and start again.