Saimah Razak, HR Consultant
The key is to ensure that you employ the right selection methods to increase the likelihood of choosing the candidate that will excel in the role; the added benefit being increased staff retention rates and employee engagement (i.e. happy staff).
Let’s start with interviews. Proper structured interviews are a useful method of assessing candidates but it is also important to recognise that some qualities (e.g. skill) are difficult to test for during an interview alone. In addition, you may well have seen candidates who have mastered the skill of performing well at interviews who turn out to be a nightmare. For both these reasons, we strongly recommend supplementing interviews with work-based tests.
Work-based tests should be designed to test the ability of candidates in real life work examples and as such should always be based on the job description and duties required for the role. An example of a work based test that has sustained popularity over the years is the ‘In-tray’ exercise, which is particularly useful for roles where the employee would be expected to multi task and prioritise in pressured situations (i.e. most jobs!).
During an in-tray exercise, the candidate is asked how and why they would prioritise a list of set tasks such as responding to an email or dealing with an incident. The key factor to consider in this type of exercise is the reasoning that the candidate has used to reach their decision; this will enable you to understand their thought process and identify the stars.
Work-based tests are an effective selection tool not only for the employer but also for the candidate. Providing the tests have been designed appropriately it will give the applicant a chance to experience the types of duties they may be likely to face on a day to day basis. Unfortunately in some rare cases this will mean a candidate will realise that the job is not right for them and withdraw from the process. This may seem frustrating at the time but ultimately it means you are more likely to get the right person for the job the first time around. This will inevitably save your organisation time and money on recruitment costs and is likely to keep turnover low.
Work-based tests should not be the sole determining factor of whether the candidate should be appointed but it will certainly make it easier for you to assess and compare candidates fairly and increase the likelihood of you making the right recruitment decisions.