When considering the applications you have received, divide the criteria of the job specification into those that are essential and those that are desirable. Are there other attributes – in terms of personality or physical skills – that you are looking for?
- Application forms create a level playing field for all candidates.
- Seek the advice of colleagues when considering borderline cases.
- Be courteous and positive when replying to all rejected applications.
Using your criteria
Before deciding on candidates to shortlist for interview, take the job specification and divide the criteria into essential and merely desirable. For example, how important is it that the recruit can speak one or more foreign languages? Should they have computer skills or are you willing to provide training if they do not?
Ideal candidates who can fulfil all your criteria will be rare, so you must be prepared to be flexible at the selection stage.
Considering your criteria
By the time you are considering applications, you should have decided which of your criteria are essential and which are merely preferable.
Examples of Criteria
- Educational: What level of education attainment are you looking for? Would you consider a school-leaver or is it essential to have graduate skills?
- Work Experience: Are you looking for specific work skills acquired through employment? Should the applicants bring a range of valuable new contacts for your company?
- Information technology skills: Are basic computer skills absolutely essential? Does your company use specific software packages that any new recruit must be thoroughly familiar with, or are you willing to invest in training?
- Communicating and negotiating skills: Should the candidate be an effective communicator and experienced negotiator?
- Travel: Does the candidate need to travel on a regular basis and for prolonged periods?
Talking to Colleagues
Before you reject borderline candidates, it may be useful to discuss their applications with colleagues whose opinions you trust, or who will work with the person appointed.
Objective second opinions may help you decide to interview a seemingly unsuitable candidate who is, in fact, right for the job. Colleagues may also know of other opportunities for which the candidate could be considered.
Discuss borderline candidates with your workmates. They may highlight some positive qualities that you have missed.
When rejecting a candidate, use a courteous and professional one. Remember that each applicant is likely to have invested a considerable amount of time and effort in applying for the post.
Send a polite letter as soon as possible, thanking each candidate for their interest. Point out that although their application has not been successful this time. You will keep their details on file should any other suitable vacancies arise in the future.
Analyzing Application Forms
Application forms are helpful when it comes to assessing candidates since they put all interviewees on the same footing. Each candidate is required to answer the set of questions. When considering an application form, it is relatively straightforward to compare candidates equally against the criteria and make a selection for an interview.
You can use the information provided to create a database, which can be used for future reference. And build up a profile of the range and skills of applicants. This will make it easier for you to select individuals who are skilled in the specific areas in which you are trying to fill vacancies.