Anyone seriously dealing with recruitment issues will probably have experienced this situation: a particularly promising candidate turns out to be phoney. If you see through the camouflage before making the appointment, it is "merely" a waste of time. But even this doesn't need to happen. How to identify cheaters as early as possible in the selection process.
1. Careful definition of the job profile
Align the job profile to what happens in practice. What will the candidate actually have to accomplish? For this, it is essential to involve the department concerned. Because who knows better than a future supervisor, or professional colleagues, about what the new hire is expected to contribute towards the success of the organisation? However, soft skills should pay an equally important part as specialist knowledge and practical skills.
If needs be, the use of particular software can be learned fairly quickly; but communication skills, on the other hand, cannot be so readily acquired without appropriate training. Ideally, you should already define the "must haves" and prioritise the criteria deemed to be "nice to haves". This will make the next step easier.
2. Careful pre-selection of candidates
Pre-selection should be done based on one or two simple, but central criteria. For example, if specific language skills are essential for an international role, evaluation is relatively easy. Unfortunately, soft skills cannot always be evaluated based on written applications. One possibility for this is provided by online tests: these can help, for example, in testing intelligence or job motivation. Another possibility is to ask for work samples, for example, in creative areas such as graphic design or editorial work.
3. Interviews or assessment centre?
Ideally both! An interview is essential and there is nothing to replace it. But the use of upstream assessment centre techniques, or additional tests relating to personality, intelligence, special skills or performance, are particularly efficient - irrespective of the position to be filled. Because many subsequent terminations are due to personality or performance related issues. This makes it even more surprising that, as rule, these are not part of all scientifically valid processes used for staff selection. Therefore, whenever a company has the resources to use this range of methods in recruitment, it is strongly recommended to do so. Incidentally: there are testing procedures that can be implemented with comparatively little effort.
4. The interview as a personal dialogue
A good job interview, incorporating the most important results from the pre-selection process, must focus on the individual. Because any cheaters need to be exposed at this stage, at the latest. So it is worth investing time. Going through a catalogue of questions that prevent critical inquiry is completely counterproductive. One should also bear in mind: smart candidates, to which the cheaters doubtless belong to, are well familiar with relevant job application 'guides' and can prepare their answers accordingly. Focus on the person and his or her previous work instead: for example, ask candidates specific questions about previous budget responsibility, how many staff they were responsible for, which individual tasks formed part of their area of responsibility and which cultural characteristics shaped the previous job. Make sure the applicant has opportunity to do most of the talking. The main aim is to find out new things about the candidate, rather than present your company at length. Never give applicants the impression you are desperate to have them. You will only get authentic answers, which ultimately provide you with a good basis for evaluating the candidate, in a genuine dialogue.
5. Take up references
Not common practice in all European countries: Taking up references. Instead, many recruiters now rely on a quick, but controversial Internet background check. But a good - or bad - reference can help you considerably in the decision making process. So if you are still undecided after the interview, think about making use of this possibility as well.
Image: © Kaspars Grinvalds - Shutterstock.com