The Foundations of Excellent Selection
Posted by: Celine Jacques
What makes a fantastic selection process? Is it the methodologies you use? Or the scoring? Or perhaps the training of assessors and interviewers? These are all important, yes. But none are as critical as understanding what the role involves and what type of person will do great things in that role.
At Capp, we have supported many clients with their recruitment and selection, and the critical starting point remains the same whatever the level or sector, albeit Graduate / Board, or Retail / Legal / Financial. You have to understand what skills and behaviours are required in the role. This understanding then forms the foundation for the selection process that is designed. Whether that is a selection process based on strengths, or competencies, or both.
When a vacancy materialises (for a new or existing role) it is always tempting straight away to dive into defining the advert and the selection process. Do we need an application form? Do we need an interview? What exercises might we need at assessment centre? If you do this before thinking about what you need to assess in the selection process, then you enter very dangerous ground.
It is critical to understand what strengths, and behaviours, someone in the role needs. Some of the questions we ask our clients are:
What would someone ‘excellent’ in this role be like?
What behaviours would they demonstrate?
What kind of personality would they have?
Who is the person going to be working with?
Will they have any leadership responsibilities?
What decisions will they have to make?
Will they have to deal with change?
Is the content of their work going to be ambiguous, or complex?
What forms of communication will they need to use? With whom?
What skills, qualities and behaviours will be critical to success not only in the role now, but in five or ten years time as the organisation changes?
Importantly, we ask a cross-section of employees and stakeholders, to get a full and rounded view. Not until we have a solid and consensual idea on the answer to these questions and more, can we really know what to assess. Without this knowledge, selection becomes a game of chance, and not of prediction. Crucially, the legal defensibility of selection decisions becomes very difficult indeed.
As Chuck Palahniuk (American novelist and satirist) once said: “If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.”
The same applies for selection – if you don’t know what you are looking for, you are unlikely to find the right match!
The upfront work of understanding the outcomes of a role – defining success in role – really does pay off in the long run.