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15.4: Selecting a Candidate

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    What you’ll learn to do: Identify the key steps in selecting a new employee.

    As Business News Daily B2B Staff Writer Sammi Caramela notes “The hiring process is more complex than choosing the right person for the job; it’s attracting and securing the best candidates, whose values align with your company’s mission and principles[1].” In this section, we’ll discuss common perception errors and decision mindset tips and review job offer formats and considerations.

    Learning Outcomess

    • Discuss methods of selecting the best candidate.
    • Describe how to complete a job offer


    When reviewing a final slate of candidates, it’s important to be aware of the potential for perception errors on the part of both interviewer and candidate. The onus is on the interviewer to check his or her assumptions and make sure a candidate understands the position, culture and operating dynamics.

    Implicit or unconscious bias, covered in depth in Module 13: Social Diversity in the Workplace, is a factor in the selection process as well. Briefly stated, implicit bias reflects the fact that we are often unaware of the divergence between our conscious attitudes and our unconscious beliefs. This divergence is a blind spot that can distort our perceptions of candidates. Key perspective point: it’s not always a matter of how we perceive those who are different from us. For example, research at Yale found that both male and female scientists rated “female” lab scientist applicants significantly lower than the “male” candidates in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student. The catch: the resume in both cases was the same; the only difference was the name: male or female[2]. The takeaway is that we all have internalized cultural stereotypes and need to cultivate an awareness of potential gender, ethnic or other biases to avoid having those stereotypes distort our judgements.

    Practice Question

    One of the factors to be aware of in the selection process is implicit bias. In a hiring context, implicit bias is best understood as:

    • A conscious positive or negative prejudgment of a candidate based on a factor(s) such as age, race or gender.
    • An unconscious positive or negative bias that affects our evaluation of a candidate based on a factor(s) such as age, race or gender.
    • A conscious discriminatory action against a candidate based on a factor(s) such as age, race or gender.

    An unconscious positive or negative bias that affects our evaluation of a candidate based on a factor(s) such as age, race or gender.

    Research also suggests that we tend to put too much faith in our ability to evaluate others. A common mistake is judging candidates based on a first impression or “likeability.” As IBM Smarter Workforce business development executive Jason Berkowitz notes: “It’s so easy to assume that a firm handshake and good eye contact means someone is competent across the board.”

    Because the process can be complicated, it’s important to have very concrete reasons for choosing one candidate over another. For example, saying “Mary fits into the team better than Sally” is likely to lead to Mary’s feeling that she has lost a popularity contest. A better option is to have a checklist of qualifications that can be shared with job candidates. If you can show Sally that Mary has stronger IT skills, more management experience, and important marketing knowledge, it will help Sally understand why Mary really is the better person for the job.

    Here are a few additional tips to improve evaluation effectiveness:

    • Focus evaluations on the job criteria to avoid being distracted by superficial factors
    • Seek candidate evaluation input from multiple people; compare notes and discuss observations
    • Be aware of any attempts to cater to interviewer interests and preferences or leverage common ground
    • Be aware of making conclusions – either favorable or unfavorable – based on factors that aren’t related to job performance – i.e., application, resume or GPA
    • Related point: question assumptions about what factors (accomplishments and characteristics) correlate with employee success

    Discussion of how to select the best candidate also has to factor in the candidate’s perceptions and potential perception errors. Given that, the final action item is doing a reality check; that is, providing the candidate with a realistic job preview. Failing to do this is a common hiring error that B2B Staff Writer Sammi Caramela refers to as “lacking in transparency.” In a series of posts on retail industry interview questions, Workforce management support provider Deputy emphasizes the importance of clarifying expectations, noting that a candidate’s attributes and enthusiasm are only part of the equation. Tip: “If the job involves a variety of shifts and incentive-based pay, it’s best to address that up-front.”[3] Sample questions:

    • What type of schedule are you interested in?
    • Would you be available to work extra shifts?
    • Do you have any classes or other part-time jobs or commitments that may affect your work availability?
    • Are you willing to work nights, weekends, and the occasional overnight inventory shift if necessary?

    The upside of transparency: Research cited in Fundamentals of Human Resource Management indicates that providing candidates with a realistic job preview prior to extending a job reducers turnover without impacting acceptance rates.

    The Job Offer

    Once the hiring manager decides who she’d like to hire, the HR department makes an offer. Typically, a job offer includes information about salary and benefits as well as details about the job requirements. If the candidate is interested, he will need to sign a contract or otherwise accept in writing before taking the job—usually a letter or email is acceptable until the employee’s first day.

    Making the Offer

    If the recruitment and selection process has been conducted with integrity and transparency on both sides, the final step is almost a formality. That said, a job offer is a contractual document and it’s important to cover the bases. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides the following checklist of details to include in an offer, with comments drawn from attorney Joshua Mates’ 14 Things Your Job Offer Letter Must Have to Be Effective article[4] for SHRM:

    • Job title
    • Department, manager’s name
    • Start date
    • Hours of work/schedule
      • Indicate whether the position is full- or part-time and specify the expected work schedule.
    • Status (full time, part time, regular, temporary, specific duration)
    • Exempt vs. nonexempt status
      • Employees need to be properly classified as either exempt or nonexempt from federal and state overtime requirements to avoid penalties or claims for unpaid wages.
    • Rate of pay (hourly, weekly or by pay period) and pay period frequency
    • Offer contingencies
      • Identify any offer contingencies such as a background check, drug testing, reference check and satisfactory proof of the employee’s right to work in the U.S., as required by law.
    • Paid leave benefits
    • Eligibility for health/welfare benefits plans
    • Work location
    • If travel is involved, approximate percent of travel required
    • At-will employment statement
      • State that either the employee or the company can terminate the relationship at any time, with or without cause or advance notice. Avoid language that could be interpreted to form a long-term commitment, including “soft statements” such as “looking forward to a long relationship.”

    SHRM also proposes attaching the following if/as relevant:

    • Benefits overview/summaries
    • Job description
    • Blank Form I-9 (bring on start date for completion) with supporting documents
    • An employment agreement, non-compete or other restrictive covenants (bring on start date for completion)
    • Self-identification form (bring on start date for completion)
    • Emergency contact form (bring completed on start date)
    • If travel is involved, summary of company’s reimbursement processes

    learn more

    To view sample offer letters (and access a range of Human Resource-related resources), visit the SHRM website and click on the Resources & Tools tab.

    The offer process itself is straightforward: either a Human Resource representative or the hiring manager will extend an offer of employment. If communicated verbally, this will be followed by a written offer of employment. The candidate will be given a set amount of time to respond—either to accept, reject, or negotiate—the offer. In practice, negotiations are often conducted prior to issuing a formal job offer.

    Practice Question

    A job offer should reflect good will and good business practices. To avoid future complications/litigation, the document should include all of the following EXCEPT:

    • Any offer contingencies.
    • A statement such as "Welcome to the [ ] family!"
    • An employee's employment status.

    A statement such as "Welcome to the [ ] family!"


    15.4: Selecting a Candidate is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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