A Data-Backed Candidate Selection Process

Published by:
Kayla Ihrig
June 9, 2022
min read

Work Sample Cheatsheet

An effective candidate selection process isn’t mysterious. The data is crystal clear, the research is available to the public, and most companies employ someone specifically to manage this function. 

Yet the ability to effectively assess candidates is eluding your company, isn’t it? 

It’s not your fault; the standard candidate selection process has gone unchallenged for a really long time. CVs and routine screenings should’ve gone out of style with leg warmers decades ago, but better in 2022 than never. 

What is the candidate selection process? 

The term “candidate selection process” refers to the screening process for hiring new employees in an organisation. It can also be referred to as the recruitment process, talent acquisition, or candidate screening. The process generally follows these steps: 

  • CV review 
  • Telephone interview 
  • Panel interview 
  • Meet the boss 
  • Reference checks 
Predictivity of typical hiring process (chart)

Even though it's common and familiar, key parts are ruining the effectiveness of the entire candidate selection process. 

The alternative is better in every way, and you can start using it today. At Applied, perfecting the candidate selection process is what we’re all about. 

We’re going to give you the entire rulebook for effectively assessing candidates, but first, let’s look at the existing process to see what’s behind the curtain of these dinosaur practices. 

Traditional vs modern selection criteria 

Resumes, strengths and weaknesses, rounds of interviews. Be honest: it’s a tiring process that even you yourself find pretty pointless, isn’t it? 

That’s because we all know the routine. It’s a well-rehearsed song and dance, but let’s break down that Running Man and see exactly what’s underneath the hood of the most momentous steps of the candidate selection process. 

Reviewing CVs 

CVs don’t belong in a modern candidate selection process. 

Frankly, they hardly even belonged anywhere in the new millennium, but here we are. 

If this feels radical, think about your own lifetime: CVs have been more or less the same for the entire lifetime of anyone younger than 65. Can you find anything else that hasn’t changed with the introduction of technology? 

Or, in the resume’s case, the introduction of women into the workforce? And the introduction of laws protecting underrepresented groups from discrimination? 

As long as CVs are the first step of the hiring process, they are gatekeepers to opportunities. The impact of the selection criteria for hiring employees and need for change cannot be understated. 
On average, employers spend less than 6 seconds reviewing a CV

When a hiring manager completes the resume screening step (for just seconds per resume, by the way) and decides whether or not to put an applicant through, they’re less likely to advance

  • Women
  • Candidates with Black-sounding names 
  • Ethnic names that are difficult to pronounce 
CVs needed to receive a callback by ethnicity (chart)

Beyond the obvious and proven discrimination that CVs lead to, they’re not even honest.  

A study by HireRight found that 85% of employers discovered applicants lying on their CVs.

The case is closed: CVs are not a part of an effective candidate selection process. Instead of traditional CVs…

Anonymized CVs

Anonymize the CVs of candidates. Stop obstructing your vision with things like names and the design decisions on the CV itself. 

This can be done through automation and removes distractions that subconsciously steer you towards certain candidates and make you less likely to hire the best candidate. 

The case for ditching CVs (infographic)

For more precise help, download our free guide now: Why CVs have got to go and how to replace them.

The anonymization of CVs goes even further beyond just candidate names and design: even the names of educational institutions and past companies must be removed for a predictive process. 

What does it say about a candidate that they had an internship at Google, versus an internship at a local nonprofit with no name recognition? 

It doesn’t say anything about how they’ll perform in your open role, but everyone will assume that the candidate who worked at Google is a front-runner. 

How bias affects a CV review

Beyond just their names, let’s take a closer look at what experience and education are actually saying. 

Checking for experience and education 

Experience and education seem like concrete pillars of the candidate selection process, don’t they? They’re actually easy to move because they’re hollow. 

Looking at past experience seems like a no-brainer for hiring teams during their potential employee selection process, but what are you actually looking for with experience and education? 

And no, that’s not a rhetorical question. Yet it’s one that goes unanswered by the traditional candidate selection process. 

The answer for the majority of positions is that you’re looking for confirmation that a candidate fulfils the tasks of your role correctly

Does a certain degree automatically qualify all candidates who hold it? 

Of course not. A degree doesn’t predict anything about how well a candidate will perform a specific role. But something else does. Instead of experience and education… 

Skills tests (AKA work samples) 

What’s better than theoretically checking for the ability to fulfil a role? 

Actually testing the ability to do a role. This is called a skills test, and it’s the single most predictive way to assess candidates. 

HOW much better, you ask? Approximately 3x

Predictive validity of assessment methods (chart)

Does this feel like a lot to handle on your own? Let The Interview Playbook make it easy and manageable to implement real changes to your candidate selection process. 

Don’t rely on meaningless predictors to guess at how a potential candidate would perform. Use the data-backed Applied process and look at your candidate in real-time for these answers. 

A skills test requires a candidate to demonstrate their ability before they even get to an interview; it’s a part of the application process. Instead of starting your candidate selection process with a CV that will be looked at for less than 10 seconds, you have a first audition from applicants that actually want to be interviewed. 

Benefits of work samples (infographic)

The “in 2 clicks, instantly apply with your LinkedIn profile!” days that provide a huge, meaningless pool of applicants should be eradicated from your hiring process.  When applying for a position takes no effort, you can’t even be certain that applicants are genuinely interested in the role or your company. 

Let us help you create work sample questions that are *perfect* for your open positions. Browse our library of resources. 

Using anonymous skills tests alongside anonymous CVs is going to result in a more concentrated group of candidates, and you’ll have the data necessary to see already who can perform the responsibilities of the role. 

Skills tests aren’t technical in nature, and we can help you develop the questions. As a rule of thumb, prompts should include basic language (avoiding technical jargon) that reflects the responsibilities written in the job description. 

Example work sample question

After you have candidates' answers, have a panel score the responses. Given each individual's unconscious biases and personal preferences, one person alone shouldn’t be responsible for this step. Use the wisdom of the crowd to your advantage! 

You may be nervous that you’ll get fewer applicants with this approach, and that’s true. But it’s a stronger group of candidates, and we’ve heard repeatedly that this approach is actually preferred. The Applied candidate experience is a positive one for everyone. 

How candidates rate the Applied process (chart)

By the time you get to the interview process, you’re going to be much better positioned to find the best candidate. So, let’s talk about the interview process. 

Are you starting to question everything you thought you knew about the candidate selection process? Take a health hiring check to see where you stand. 

Get-to-know-you interviews 

If you ask most managers what purpose the interview serves, they’ll tell you that it’s essential in order to get to know the candidate. 

But how much do personality (and charm, which is what much of an interview’s first impression comes down to) really matter to how a role is performed? 

And there the keyword is: perform. Interviews are performative, and they yield very inconsistent results between candidates.  

Interviews for the purpose of getting to know candidates also favour those who are neurotypical, and place neurodivergent candidates at a disadvantage. 

There are also huge inconsistencies with the interviewer. In conversational, off-the-cuff interviews, a manager may ask very different questions to applicants. 

Without structure, an interview could’ve just received a troubling email and decided to keep the interview brief, spending half as much time with candidate B as they did with candidate A. 

Or, have an interview at the end of the day, and that candidate has statistically pulled the short straw, as is evidenced through research. This is a glimpse at our research, which shows that applicants repeatedly score higher in interviews at the beginning of the day versus being interviewed at the end. 

Rank order effect example (chart)

This is why at key review moments of the candidate selection process, the Applied method shuffles applicants. You can see how this looks when reviewing work samples: 

Applied process (infographic)

Just like with the previous pillars of the traditional candidate selection process, there’s a more predictive way to get to know a candidate. Instead of loosely-structured interviews… 

Structured interviews with a scoring rubric 

Standard, pre-chosen interview questions that are assessed using a scoring rubric will yield your most predictive interview process

Instead of a gut sense, the end result of this interview process is anonymous, a fact sheet with data on which candidates performed best, not feelings.

Example scoring criteria

A scoring rubric is determined in advance of the interview, and each question is scored independently as the interview progresses. 

Otherwise, you risk thinking back on the interviewees as if they were episodes of Friends: 

  • The one with the strong accent 
  • The one who looked like my ex 
  • The one who was surprisingly old 

Imagine leaving the interview with hard numbers instead. How much easier would your hiring decisions be? 

Applied candidate leaderboard (screenshot)

Think back to your own past interviews: how would they have benefited from a fair and structured process? Or imagine the calibre of coworkers you could’ve had all of these years if the most qualified candidates were offered the job every. single. time. 

You can’t change the past, but it’s a real shame to keep living in it when we all know better. 

The big candidate selection process takeaways 

There are clear ways to make the candidate selection process more predictive and turn it into what it should always have been: a level playing field that’s fair for everyone. 

The icing on top for human resources and management is that it’s also going to save time, which saves money. There are no downsides. 

Focusing on skills-based hiring is going to improve the accuracy of your candidate selection process immensely. 

Focus on what’s most predictive in actually assessing candidates, and ruthlessly disregard everything else.

You don’t still look up phone numbers in the phone book, watch TV on a heavy cube with antennas, or listen to messages on an answering machine. It’s time to leave the dated talent assessment processes in the past, just the same. 

Don’t offer a job offer before you’ve completed your steps in the candidate selection process or you’re operating on guesswork, not data. 

More resources:

Applied is the essential platform for debiased hiring. Purpose-built to make hiring empirical and ethical, our platform uses anonymized applications and skill-based assessments to identify talent that would otherwise have been overlooked.

Push back against conventional hiring wisdom with a smarter solution: book in a demo