The trouble with selection criteria

I have been in recruitment for nearly 13 years and have worked with hundreds if not thousands of people. And not once have I heard someone say to me, “oh I don’t have to fill in selection criteria, that’s a shame”.

Government agencies are notorious for using selection criteria and what is even worse they have a method they expect every candidate to follow to fill them in. Because of this a whole cottage industry has sprung up to support people filling in selection criteria. Now doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

Selection criteria are supposed to be the great leveller but in reality all they do is put people off. You are certainly not going to encourage diverse candidates by expecting them to all produce carbon copy answers.

Selection criteria have become the great joke of the recruitment process, but the reality is that they are not only divisive they do anything but encourage individual ideas. Candidates find them anything from annoying to down right scary. They cause stress and anxiety to a process that is already stressful for most people.

When you set up your recruitment process did you actually go through it yourself to see what it was like? If you had to go through 3 pages of selection criteria with 300 words per answer would you bother?

And what are you hoping to achieve by having those selection criteria? For most people it is to cut down the number of applications they have to review. Well I can tell you it works. But what it doesn’t do is find you the best candidates. It also doesn’t help you to find diverse candidates.

What selection criteria really do is make your application process more difficult. They put people off applying, especially candidates that are already time poor. They help to impart bias, as they encourage you to look at every candidate the same, looking for the same words and exactly the same experiences. And they encourage applicants to seek help to “fulfill” the process.

So if you have selection criteria as part of your recruitment process, have you looked at how they affect your process? What they are trying to achieve and do they really improve your candidate experience?

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