Selection Recruitment Skills

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Different types of positions require different kinds of selection techniques. Choosing the right techniques will help in recruiting the best person for the position. The selection techniques one chooses depends on the particular skills, attributes and knowledge required for the position. An improper selection technique could lead to selection of a wrong individual which would turn out to be very costly for the firm. Therefore it is very important that proper emphasis is given on the kind of selection technique employed for right selection.

How to choose selection techniques

It is not a good idea to make recruitment decisions based on the results of one selection method alone. Very often one needs to combine two or more techniques to assess a range of skills and qualities in candidates. For selecting the right sales & marketing manager for our firm we need to assess characteristics like communication skills, analytical skills(to be able to read changing market trends),creativity & idea generation(as marketing manager he/she needs to come up with new ideas to retain & capture markets, also to introduce new products .

What to consider when choosing:

  • The seniority/level of position
  • The degree to which managerial/leadership ability is critical to success
  • The degree to which technical competence is critical to success
  • The time and effort required to use the technique, in proportion to the risk of poor selection
  • Available resources
  • The budget
  • The skills, knowledge and qualifications of assessors

Who administers selection techniques?

The selection committee or a representative from the Human Resources Unit (HRU) can administer many of the techniques required for selecting a sales & marketing manager. However, senior managers in the same field can also provide assistance.

Cost of selection techniques

There is no doubt recruitment and selection can be costly activities, and the costs incurred by some selection techniques can make them prohibitive for all but a few ‘key' vacancies in an organization. For example, assessment centres require considerable investment of resources and are particularly demanding in terms of the time commitment required from assessors. However, in deciding on the most cost effective methods, the ‘up-front' costs need to be balanced against the costs of wrong decisions, which may include cost associated with labour turnover owing to lack of ability. Some considerations to be included:

  • The start-up time required by a replacement for a job holder ;
  • The downtime associated with the jobholder changing jobs internally or externally ;
  • Training and/or retraining for the replacement and the jobholder ;
  • Relocation expenses ;
  • The shortfall in productivity between an effective and ineffective job holder;
  • The psychological impact on the failed jobholder and the morale of others in the department;

Different selection techniques

  • Structured interview format
  • Work samples
  • Peer assessment
  • Psychometric profiling

Structured interview format

The structured interview format involves assessing the candidate's skills, attributes and behaviour through behaviour-based questions. Behaviour-based questions probe for specific examples of a candidate's behaviour in situations similar to those that will be found in the new job. Questions are typically worded to extract specific examples of what they have done in the past. Asking behavioural questions enables you to assess candidates more objectively, based on specifics rather than 'gut' feelings or personal impressions.

The interview is also useful for assessing a candidate's presentation and communication skills, 'getting to know' candidates and assessing cultural 'fit' with the work area. This is very important with regard to the vacancy here (sales and marketing manager). Complementing the interview with other selection techniques such as skills tests, work sample tests, case studies, planning exercises, analysis and/or judgement exercises, presentations and team observations increases the likelihood of identifying the best person for the position.

Work samples

Work samples involve an individual or group of candidates completing exercises that they would be required to undertake as part of the position. For group tasks, candidates are placed in a situation in which the successful completion of a task requires interaction among the participants. In individual exercises, participants complete a task independently. The selection committee should determine acceptable responses or outcomes prior to administering any sort of work sample test.

Examples of different work sample techniques and tips on how to use them are provided below.

The in-tray test

This is an individual test designed to simulate important or regular tasks associated with the position. Different types of in-tray tests may be designed to correspond to the various requirements of sales and marketing executive which involves researching information or analysing data to study the introduction of new products etc. At the conclusion of the exercise the candidate will have produced notes, memos, letters, etc., which constitute the record of his or her behaviour in completing the task. In-tray exercises permit direct observation of individual behaviour within the context of a job-relevant problem situation.

Planning exercises

This will test the candidate's ability to prioritise, plan activities, schedule and allocate resources, and adapt to last minute changes. This will allow assessors to evaluate a candidate's skills and attributes in planning and judgement. Exercises might involve providing the candidate with some information about a typical project and asking them to draft a project plan or schedule, determine a budget or allocate resources.

Analysis exercises

These evaluate a candidate's aptitude in analysis and judgement. Candidates are provided with quantitative and qualitative data about a fictitious organisation and asked to draw conclusions, make recommendations, assess the organisation's situation or improve matters such as market share, sales, capturing new markets etc.


This assesses the candidate's communication skills and perhaps their expertise on a particular subject. A typical task might involve a candidate preparing and presenting to a selection committee, new buyers etc.

Further points to be noted while using work samples

Work samples are effective at predicting future behaviour. They are particularly useful if implemented as part of a two-phase selection process, i.e. after the first interview when follow-up and probing are required, or alternatively, to weed out candidates prior to interview. Using work samples as a selection technique is usually more time consuming and resource intensive than conducting an interview, particularly if there are a lot of candidates.

Peer assessment

Peer assessment involves asking a candidate's colleagues to predict how the candidate will respond if placed in a particular work situation or role. Peers or colleagues usually provide different feedback than that offered by supervisors, as their perceptions are drawn from a different range of behavioural interactions. We must seek the candidate's approval before speaking to his/her peers or colleagues. Peer assessment is often used to predict future leadership and managerial success. This would help us to find out leadership abilities and behavioural traits of the candidate.

Though one must note a range of people with different relationship to the candidate should be included for an unbiased opinion.

Psychometric profiling

Psychometric tests are standardized tests designed by psychologists to measure mental performance; they help to identify a candidate's potential and personality. They are structured pencil and paper or computer based tests usually consisting of multiple-choice questions. The two main types of psychometric tests used in recruitment selection are:

  • Aptitude/Ability Tests
  • Personality Questionnaires

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests help us identify the potential that a candidate has to grasp new skills; it measure's natural ability to perform tasks where no prior specialist knowledge or skills are needed. Strict time limits are set and the tests are taken under exam conditions. The tests are designed so that most candidates do not complete them, so it is important for them to work quickly and accurately to get as many correct as possible. There is a right and wrong answer and the questions are usually multiple-choice.

Personality questionnaires

Personality questionnaires are designed to explore the preferred way of behaving; how the candidate relates to other people and their ability to deal with their own and other people's emotions and the way they handle and solve problems. This is important for a sales and marketing manager as he is continuously heading a team under him and therefore he needs to be able to understand their way of working and what motivates them etc.

The reliability and the efficacy of psychometric tests

  • To help predict future on the job performance - it provides a snapshot of a candidate's potential.
  • It helps to ensure that a suitable candidate is hired for the job role.
  • Tests are objective and fair - results are not influenced by tester bias.
  • To sift out unsuitable candidates at an early stage in the recruitment process, this can be done quickly and cheaply and helps reduce recruitment costs.

Psychometric tests are usually used as part of our selection process in conjunction with other traditional methods such as interviews.

Reliability of The Major Selection Tool - Interview

The factors that affect the ability to make accurate predictions i.e. good selection decisions are:

  • Interviewer bias and judgement error
  • Structure and format of interview

The chief forms of interviewer bias and judgement error are:

  • Stereotypes (a shorthand way of classifying information & people)
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Race
  • Looks (the better looking and taller the candidate, the more intelligent he/she is considered to be!)
  • Similarity (interviewers are likely to perceive themselves as competent or the stereotypical person the organisation requires)
  • Non use or replacement of selection criteria (interviewers may work independently of criteria, or unconsciously develop their own due to the biases discussed above)

Common Types of Judgemental Errors

  • Halo Effect - where an assessor forms a judgement or overall impression about an interviewee based on one attribute (positive or negative) and ignores other evidence.
  • Leniency/Strictness - where an assessor consistently rates candidates either extremely positive or negative.
  • Central tendency - The tendency to avoid all extreme judgements and rate all candidates as average or neutral
  • Recency effects - the tendency to remember recent information, particularly if it is negative, and to forget offsetting information. This is a problem that is more acute when a larger number of people are interviewed.
  • Similarity - the tendency to assess candidates more favourably if their background and attributes resemble those of the assessor.

The important thing about most errors and biases is that people are generally not aware that they are influenced by them. A large body of research evidence shows that many people are influenced by these types of errors especially in interviewing.

Ways to Improve the Interview Technique

As mentioned earlier, none of the techniques should be used in isolation as they all have their respective drawbacks. Interview is an integral part in the selection procedure but to overcome the biases mentioned above, this technique could be supplemented with other tools of selection like planning exercise, analysis exercise, psychometric tests etc. This would help us choose an apt candidate i.e the right sales and marketing.