The candidate selection - a mammoth task

Choosing the right candidate for a vacancy from a large number of applicants is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Every application for itself has to be evaluated by the HR manager, unless, as is usual in many companies, software with algorithms has already pre-sorted the candidates. Paper applications usually follow a certain pattern: The cover letter, from which a HR manager with a bit of luck luck might be able to learn a few things about the applicant. A curriculum vitae that reveals data and facts about the applicant's career until now. Testimonials and letters of recommendation, which nowadays, as everyone in HR knows, only partially reliably and meaningful evaluate the applicant's abilities. In addition to this information from the documents, some important questions now remain when looking for a new employee.

  • What kind of personality is the applicant?
  • What social skills does he or she have?
  • Does he or she fit into the team as a person?
  • Do personality and attitude fit the corporate culture?

Getting to know each other

In order to be able to answer these questions, you have to get to know the candidate personally, for which there are several possibilities. As an HR manager, you must decide which method you want to use to get to know and test the candidates for the position for which you are responsible.

Telephone interview – It is usually similar in structure to a classic interview, can give a first impression, e.g. of applicants you are still unsure about whether you want to invite them to an interview. Since such an interview, in which both parties do not see, but only hear eachother, is perceived as more difficult by many applicants (above all job starters), a telephone interview is often a useful additional test to see how the candidate deals with difficult situations and stress and how spontaneously eloquent he is.

Personal interview – Probably the most common method to get to know an applicant and to sound him out for the job. You can not only get to know him as a person, but better than in a telephone interview, referring to clothing, facial expressions, body language and general interaction you can get an idea of whether the candidate fits the requirements of the position, the team and the company in addition to his professional skills.

Group interview – If with a high number of applicants you want to get to know several candidates who seem to be similar in profile, an interview in small groups is a good way to compare the applicants directly. However, as a HR person, you need to be aware that applicants may behave and present themselves differently in this competitive situation than they would in a one-on-one interview. This can be meaningful for the situation to be filled, but it can also distort the picture of the applicants. Here each HR manager must weigh up for itself.

Assessment Centre – This is by far the most complex form of applicant selection. Although usually a large number of applicants are tested by an Assessment Centre at the same time, a great deal of preparation is required (tasks, structural test interviews, presentations and usually also the organisation of catering), and the evaluation is also much more extensive and therefore more time-consuming.

Trial work – The invitation to the trial work should only be issued when one is almost certain that one or a few candidates fit the requirement profile. Having an applicant for half a day or a whole day to test work in the company means additional work for yourself and/or colleagues. The advantage of a trial day is that it is easy to see how sociable the candidate is when interacting with potential new colleagues and how quickly he or she is able to grasp the new tasks.

The evaluation

As a HR manager, you should create a requirement profile in advance. This is not the job advertisement, but a guideline for you and the selection procedure, with which you can tick off the most important criteria for the position with the candidate. These are hard skills that the candidate must have, but also social skills that the team needs; difficulties that the new employee must overcome; and development opportunities that the candidate can be offered in principle, regardless of his or her personal future development.

Notes are indispensable and actually a matter of course. These begin with the first reading of the documents, where questions about the curriculum vitae or certificates can arise, and continue in the interview with the applicant. In order to better compare the candidates from the interviews, you should build a guide for the interview. This does not mean that you discuss the same things one hundred percent with each candidate, but you should include the same list of questions about knowledge, experience and soft skills in your interview conduct so that you can compare more objectively.

The selection

In the end, you have to make a decision. The guidelines from your interviews, the notes that go with them, the results of the test work or test items - these are all your tools for comparing and evaluating the candidates. They can be your tools to make the final decision for one candidate and against the other. However, according to experts, it is not advisable and usually not sufficient for a successful long-term cooperation to select the suitable new employee only on the basis of these criteria.

Think about what your first impression was. Listen a little bit to your gut feeling to see if you liked the type of candidate. Imagine the candidate in the day-to-day work of the department concerned. HR work is not always just the evaluation of pure facts, but also has to do with knowledge of human nature. So listen a little to your intuition when making your decision.