5 Steps for Designing a Smart Employee Selection Process
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5 Steps for Designing a Smart Employee Selection Process

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

There’s no denying it – the way we work is changing. The remote working statistics support that, too, with more than 78% of people saying remote working gives them a better work-life balance while boosting productivity.And with the working world-changing, your employee selection process needs to adapt to keep up too.

In this article, we’ll show you how to do that with a smart, digitized employee selection process.

After we’ve looked at a traditional recruitment process and discussed why it’s no longer fit for purpose, we’ll walk you through the five smart ways to improve your employee selection process that’ll help you land the best candidates each and every time!

Let’s get into it.

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What is the Traditional Employee Selection Process?

Whether you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager, you’ll probably know the steps of a traditional hiring process. Online job boards, CV filtering, the interview process (probably with at least two stages), final candidate selection, and finally, an offer.

Sure, the traditional approach has worked for a while, with many companies finding high-quality candidates to fill their job roles. But, the whole process is ridiculously inefficient.

Recruiters spend hours doing mundane tasks such as writing long job descriptions, conducting initial candidate screening, and running in-person interviews. All of these tasks drain hours of valuable time, both for recruiters and hiring managers, leaving both parties feeling exhausted – especially when a suitable candidate isn’t found at the end of it.

But wasting time isn’t the only downside to this old-school approach; there’s a whole host of flaws in a traditional employee selection process.

The Common Mistakes and Downsides of a Traditional Hiring Process

#1 – They Have An Over-Reliance on CV Keywords

Those that focus their efforts on resume screening leave themselves open to genuine risk in their recruitment and selection process. That’s because when reviewing resumes in bulk, it’s impossible to read them all correctly. Instead, recruiters have to scan for keywords to help them identify candidates for the role.

This doesn’t provide an accurate representation of a candidate’s ability and only shows off a candidate’s resume writing skills – skills that aren’t at all important to the vast majority of roles.

#2 – Hiring is Too Company-Centric

The traditional recruitment process is incredibly company-centric, focusing the whole experience on what’s convenient for the company rather than what’s good for a future employee.

Recruiters forget that recruitment is the first experience anyone has of a company, ruining their chances to make a great first impression!

#3 – It Leaves You Open To Bias and Cheating

Writing a generic job description, relying on one person to evaluate candidates, and in-person interviewing are all fast tracks to a new hire that’s riddled with bias. Whether we like it or not, we all have conscious and unconscious bias that warps our judgment, and the traditional candidate selection process does nothing to counter that.

That means many organizations miss out on qualified candidates because they’ve left their selection process down to personal preference rather than making a data-driven decision.

 employee selection process - Unconscious bias when looking at a CV. Source: Applied

#4 – They Focus on the Wrong Things

The traditional process rewards the nice-to-have skills that sound great on paper rather than practical role-based competencies. Especially when it comes to resumes and interviews, suitable candidates are chosen by whether they can ‘talk the talk’ without ever proving they can ‘walk the walk’.

Just because a candidate’s personality is great, it doesn’t mean they’re the perfect candidate for the job, and in fact, they’re likely to be the wrong candidate altogether.

#5 – Interviews Become Waaaaaay Too Long

Because the early recruitment stages are based on gut instinct rather than solid data, it can be hard to shortlist the right people. That leads to the interview stage being far too long, with too many candidates that simply aren’t suitable.

This creates interview fatigue, leaving you open to a greater risk of interview bias, leading to you making a bad hire.

employee selection process - 5 Negative effects of interview fatigue. Source: Intromagic

How the Recruitment Process Has Become Slicker, More Candidate-Centric, and Better for Your Hiring Team

Luckily, just like the general working world, the recruitment industry has shifted recently too. Here are just some of the ways the market has responded to become more efficient and started to give the candidate experience more importance.

#1 – Greater Focus on Qualified Candidates With Job-Specific Skills

Hiring manager focus has definitely shifted from quick and dirty hiring to a more structured, skill-focused approach. There’s now less focus on previous job roles, and more focus on key areas such as communication skills, management skills, and competency-based qualifications.

This is great news for candidates everywhere, but also for hiring managers as it de-risks the selection process.

#2 – The Growing Importance of Candidate Experience & Timely Feedback

Gone are the days of companies putting their own needs first, with the more attractive companies now focusing on making the candidate experience an excellent one. Sure, there is still a requirement to filter multiple candidates down to one lucky winner, but it’s all about doing it in a way that’s valuable for everyone involved.

A crucial part of this for candidates is getting rich and timely feedback from the hiring team. This way, candidates get feedback on their predicted job performance while making them more likely to apply for another job opening in the future.

#3 – Gamified Applications

Another significant shift in the candidate experience space is the rise of gamified recruitment. Whether it’s a hackathon competition, a nifty recruiting software, or a personality test, the best recruiters are making the application and selection process super fun by turning it into a game-like experience.

As a recruiter, this helps your recruitment and selection process stand out from the crowd, helping you and your hiring team attract top candidates from across the globe.

How Toggl Track Is Gamifying their Application Process with Toggl Hire

#4 – A Faster, More Efficient Hiring Timeline

Talking of recruitment software, the rise in digital technology has made the hiring process super speedy and efficient for all involved. Whether it’s a skills test, an automated background check, or a homework assignment test, there are now so many digital shortcuts to help you take a candidate from seeing a job opening to issuing them a job offer.

#5 – A Focus on Measuring & Repeating What Works

Recruitment had a reputation for being a fire and forget industry where the way to success was working harder rather than working smarter. In recent years that mindset has definitely changed, with the use of KPIs, recruitment metrics, and hiring analytics helping teams drive better outcomes.

Recruiting software comes in here again as many tools help you accurately report on your employee selection process, helping you identify what’s going well and what could be improved upon.

The Key Takeaway: 5 Smart Ways to Improve your Employee Selection Process

As you can see, the traditional recruitment and selection process is fast becoming dead in the water. If you want to attract the best job candidates on the market, you need to think and act differently.

Here are five ways to improve your practices right away to implement a more effective employee selection process.

Step 1: Attract the Right Kind of Job Candidates

The first step to building an effective remote employee selection process is drafting a great job ad that will attract the right candidates. As we saw earlier, to get the best results, it needs to be performance-based and skills-based.

Focus on making your job description, roles and responsibilities, and expectations as straightforward as possible. Remove jargon, organizational buzzwords, acronyms, and overly complex language to ensure your job ad is easy to read and simple to understand.

Crucially, also take time to review the requirements which underpin your job adverts. Think about the skills and experience the right candidate actually needs to do the role, removing anything that isn’t essential.

A great example can be found within your senior PHP developer’s education requirements. Would skills and experience from previous jobs not be enough? By mandating a degree, you unconsciously lose focus on what really matters.

Then, it’s all about getting your ad in front of the right people. Drop the major job boards, such as LinkedIn, Monster, and Careerbuilder, and focus on niche-specific job boards instead. While these sites don’t tend to get as much traffic as more prominent websites, the quality of the job candidate is much higher.

If you were hiring for a remote-specific role, great examples would include Remote.co, Letsworkremotely, Hubstaff Talent, and Angel.co.

Step 2: Stop Resume Screening and Start Skills Testing

When you got your mind set on buying a new car, it’s perfectly reasonable to make sure it works properly – engine, steering, brakes, suspension, no weird warning lights popping up…

Similarly, you absolutely need to make sure your candidates know how to do their job too.

If you’ve ever had to hire someone, you know that the majority of applications aren’t a good fit for the job. There’s a multitude of reasons for this, ranging from unrelated work experience to simply ignoring the instructions on how to apply.

If wading through 1500 resumes makes you feel as sick as it does for us, surely there must be a better way?

Skills tests help you put pre-employment testing into autopilot with candidates completing job-specific tests to showcase their abilities. Not only does this save time, but it’s also far more accurate, comparing candidates solely on their performance.

If you like the sound of that, take a look at how we do it below:

Step 3: Digitize & Streamline Your Job Interviews

Traditionally, face-to-face interviews are left until the end of the hiring process, before any decisions are made. That’s great and all, but it means you don’t get a sense of any soft skills, including communication skills and management skills, until the very end of the process.

The traditional approach is also a massive waste of time, as a candidate can look great on paper and still turn out to be rubbish at the interview. For this reason, we highly recommend using one-way asynchronous technology to streamline your interviews.

Candidates complete these asynchronous interviews when it suits them, boosting the candidate experience while allowing you to save time. You’ll also be testing candidates at scale, as you only need to record your questions once and let candidates’ answers keep rolling in.

At Toggl, we do this with our Video Intros feature. It’s the perfect way to get to know your candidates, assess their soft skills, and give them a sneak peek into your organization during the early part of the selection process.

But remember, the power of a great interview is to ask great questions. Aim to ask questions specific to your job role, to get answers that actually prove your candidate can do the job. Here are some remote work examples if you don’t know what we mean:

  1. What is your previous experience working remotely? 
    This is as simple as it gets. Ideally, the candidate will tell you if they worked remotely, what their experience was, along with the good and bad aspects. You’ll be able to get a glimpse of how they feel about remote work.
  2. What tools have you used to manage to work remotely?
    It’s good to know if your candidate knows their way around Skype, Slack or project management tools such as Toggl Plan. It may not be a deciding factor but will reduce onboarding time.
  3. What does your workspace look like as a remote worker?
    Not everyone has the funds (or the desire) for a full-blown home office. However, the type of working environment will tell you how seriously someone takes their work.
  4. How do you manage feedback and conflicts while working remotely?
    Not every day at the office will be spectacular. Conflicts happen, and ideally, they’re taken care of immediately. It’s much easier to talk it out in the office instead of a Slack window, so it’s crucial to know how your candidate will handle delicate situations as a remote worker.
  5. How do you manage your time working remotely?
    For many people working remotely, it’s hard to turn off and there’s a chance of overworking or wasting time on unproductive tasks. It’s also a good opportunity to ask them if they’re comfortable using time tracking software.

At this point, you should have a shortlist of the best candidates. There’s one final selection process step to ensure they can definitely do what you need!

Step 4: (Paid) trial project

What better way to see how someone will perform and fit into your team than by letting them join in? Trial periods are one of the best pre employment assessments as they’re a great way to get a sense of candidate performance and cultural fit.

At Toggl Hire, we give each candidate a trial project for a week before they’re brought on board to see how they work within their hiring teams. Here are some tips to make the best out of a trial period:

  • Make the task meaningful. Don’t simply assign potential candidates a simple task to keep them busy. Make sure their trial period represents the work they would do if they get hired.
  • Be flexible. Lots of candidates are still employed at other positions, and they can’t be around for 8 hours a day. Let them set their own hours – as long as the assigned work is done.
  • If possible, pay for the trial project. Especially if the candidate is already employed, you’re taking their precious time and getting something in return. If they don’t get hired – they’ve contributed. This is yet another reason to make the test meaningful – to get the best return on investment.
  • Keep the candidates on a need-to-know basis. Depending on your industry, you may need to sign an NDA before the test week starts. Whether this is the case or not, make sure your candidates know just enough to get the work done, but not more.

Step 5: Check Culture with a Wider Team Interview

Once you’ve found your ideal candidate, traditionally, you would make them an offer and call it a day. However, many companies are adding one final step to their selection process by having a final group interview with the wider team.

This could be with the CEO, team leads, upper management, or future colleagues – it’s entirely up to you! And because you’ve already got the skills tests out of the way, you can now figure out another important element of your selection process – cultural fit.

This interview should be more relaxed in nature and offers a chance for the team to get to know their new colleague. On the other hand, the candidate can see if the company is the right fit for them, too, further helping to boost your candidate experience.

This is a great way to round up the selection process and ensures you’ve considered all the angles before the candidate accepts the offer. It also gives the team some context when a job announcement is made!

It’s Time to Digitize Your Employee Selection Process

The traditional employee selection process is dead. If you want to stand out from the crowd and save yourself time, it’s easy to update your employee selection methods to be smarter.

Whether it’s swapping your in-person interview for a one-way interview, writing a leaner, more targeted job description, or using pre-employment assessments, such as skills tests, there are no excuses to become smarter today!

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