How to Assess Potential Candidates Fairly and Accurately

Recruiting can be a headache but it doesn’t need to be. There are alot of resources to support you, and larger businesses will have someone who is responsible for human resources. However, there is no substitute for a manager having a thoughtful approach, lining up expectations properly, and comparing applicants fairly.

In the public sector of most countries, you must be able to demonstrate a fair evaluation of all applicants, but it is good practice in any recruitment.

Start with what you need.

What job needs doing, what are its tasks and objectives? A job description or Terms of Reference describes what is required and this will also probably be the basis of any advertising or a brief to a recruitment agent. Perhaps it simply needs a review of the one used last time and an update to match any evolution of the job that has occurred since.

Be careful about changes to the job description.

In the public sector, for example, there will be a grading attached that governs pay levels. The job description will cover points such as levels of responsibility for money, people or other resources, all of which usually carry a higher grade (and pay) than a job with no responsibility for these things. Changes need to accurately reflect the responsibilities and may need to be formally re-assessed for grade, which will take extra time.

Identify the legal requirements and constraints in the jurisdiction you are hiring.

In some countries, for example, it is illegal to ask about age, ethnicity or medical history. In a large organisation there will be Human Resources experts to guide you. In a small business it would be wise to check the relevant government websites relating to employment. If necessary, ask a professional recruitment agency. You may also have access to business and personal advisory organisations in the country you’re operating in, who will either know the answer or direct you to it.

Finally, use a chart to visualise and identify the ideal candidate.

Write a list of the qualities, skills and experience you would like to see. This is the basis of an evaluation chart which fairly compares all candidates against the same set of requirements. To complete the chart: Put a figure for the maximum number of points against each of the items you listed earlier. The maximum score for each item should reflect the importance of this element to the job.

This could be done in different ways. It can be in the form of a point-system with a scale from say 1 to 10, or it can be using a weighting multiplications factor (e.g if reliability is the most important thing for the job, then multiplying the result by two or more will give it a much heavier weighting in the eventual score). The maximum points for each item will be the total that any candidate can score for it.

Check that the most important item is carrying the most points. You can work out your priorities by giving the most important item full 10 points, the next most important 9, the next 8 and so on. This can also be the scoring mechanism, if you wish. On the whole, the larger the possible scoring number, the harder it is to decide an exact mark for a candidate skill or experience, but the easier to get totals which rank the candidates clearly. It may be worth experimenting with the first couple of candidates to find out what marking system suits the position best.