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How do you know that the people you hire are the best fit for the job? It’s a process, and each step is an opportunity to set expectations and gain insight. But these steps are connected—if one is out of sync, then it can skew all the others–limiting the effectiveness of your entire talent selection process.

What does your selection process look like? Most include these seven steps:

  • Recruitment Message
  • Application and Pre-Screening
  • Assessment Program
  • Reference Checking
  • Behavioral Interview
  • Job Simulation/RJP
  • Hiring Decision

Deciding whether or not to include a step will depend on what you want to gain from it. Take a look at each one to learn what it is and how it could benefit your process.

1. Recruitment Message

Recruitment messages introduce candidates to your selection process, and possibly to your brand. Their purpose is to target a specific audience for a specific position at an organization. Because it’s your first interaction as a prospective employer, the message you send has a huge impact and affects the way a potential hire views your company (see 5 tips for writing better qualifications).

This is your chance to share your company’s culture and values. Keep the recruitment message engaging and informative–make someone want to apply at your organization. Consider working with your marketing department to make sure that all communications and employees are aligned to tell the same story about your company’s mission and culture.

2. Application and Pre-Screening

Most companies offer online applications, which give job seekers the opportunity to apply when it’s convenient for them. Having applications available any time widens the top of your selection funnel, increasing your chances of getting the most promising candidates to apply.

The first goal of pre-screening is to gauge how the candidate’s skills, work experience, and education aligns with the basic requirements of the job, such as work and educational experience. The second goal is to discuss the candidate’s scheduling preference and availability. To save time and get more detail, you can incorporate these pre-screening questions into an assessment that’s scored automatically.

3. Assessment Program

When you widen your funnel of candidates, you then need to be able to easily differentiate those with strong potential from those who fall short of what you need. After you’ve learned which candidates have the basic requirements and understand the responsibilities of the position, the next step is to assess them.

Job-fit assessments help you accurately and consistently predict who will be most successful in a certain role—and you can automate this step as part of your application and pre-screening process for up-front results, or invite select candidates to complete the online assessment after you’ve learned more about them.

It’s critical that you choose an assessment vendor who’s dedicated to finding the right fit for your unique culture, team, and job type, as well as providing a positive experience for the candidate, recruiter, and hiring manager.

4. Reference Checking

Many recruiters and hiring managers think of reference checking as a waste of time. But depending on which vendor you choose, reference checking can be extremely insightful, providing critical information about the candidate from people who’ve actually seen them in action (see the secrets to reference checking success).

Rich information from past employers can help you better understand the candidate and make better decisions about whether or not to move them forward in the selection process. Descriptive and reliable insight about past behavior helps to further clarify how well a candidate will perform on the job.

You can automate your reference checks, making this step more affordable and efficient. This type of tool collects detailed and candid feedback from past employers through competency-based, open-ended questions.

5. Behavioral Interview

A little structure goes a long way. Most organizations have figured out that providing hiring managers with a behaviorally-based interview guide helps them stay focused on job-relevant questions, compare candidates against a common benchmark, and determine which candidates should continue in the hiring process.

Without structure, interviewers can easily get off track with questions like, “What are some of your hobbies?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Structured, behavioral interviews focus on key competencies that are proven to lead to success, like customer focus, team orientation, and delivering results, and can dig into areas that the assessment flagged as potential weakness. They also help hiring managers manage the timing and sequence of the interview, and keep better notes, which they can then share with others involved in the hiring decision.

6. Job Simulation/Realistic Job Preview (RJP)

A job simulation or RJP benefits both the hiring manager and the candidate. The candidate will see what the job is like and what they’ll be responsible for if hired, and the hiring manager will see how the candidate handles different work-related scenarios (see how Best-in-Class organizations use simulations).

When someone starts a job without fully understanding what’s expected of them, they’re more likely to leave, and for a good reason. The point of an RJP is to show the good and the bad, including high-stress and unexpected obstacles. You want to attract candidates who have the skills and strengths necessary to perform well in the role you’re hiring for. By being transparent, your company will create a trustworthy recruitment brand, and you’ll also avoid time spent training candidates who aren’t right for the job.

7. Hiring Decision

Making consistent, high-quality hiring decisions starts with a high-quality selection process that provides valid and insightful information about the candidate. Too often, high potential candidates are dismissed because of irrelevant or misinterpreted information. With the right process in place, you can avoid these pitfalls and be confident in your hiring decisions.