Evaluating your Selection Criteria

Harvard Business Review has reported that 65% of all hiring decisions are based on assumption and intuition.  Guess wrong, and it can cost upwards of $7,000 to replace that bad hire, according to the Canada Human Resources Centre’s online ‘turnover calculator’.   

So how do you make crucial hiring decisions and ensure you recruit the right candidate the first time? Not surprisingly, it starts long before you schedule the interview – it begins when you evaluate the criteria you’re using to select the right person. 

Everybody is Doing the Evaluating

At the same time, every job applicant has their own set of criteria they are using to evaluate you as a potential new employer. 

From a candidate’s perspective, being able to manage their own career offers control over three important factors that contribute to their quality of work life. 

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world,” says Daniel Pink, author of DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  He says an employee’s true motivation and performance comes from three elements; having a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.          

Assuming that you are looking for highly motivated employees who want to do their best for your customers, your business and themselves; your selection criteria needs to reflect these ‘engagement criteria’ to deliver on both sides of the recruitment table

The Four Stages of Evaluating Selection Criteria

There are four key stages to evaluating your selection criteria. 

What does success looks like for your company and the candidate?  Do your homework – ask everyone on the team what “great results” would look like for the individual, the team and the company.  This step gives you the big picture of what to include in the position description and in any marketing material you post/print about the job.

In addition to reflecting the specific requirements of the position, the rule of thumb in developing selection criteria is that it needs to be fair, objective and measurable. For example, requiring a degree in a specialized area may exclude great candidates without a degree who have valuable experience performing all aspects of the position to a very high level.

Two questions to ask as you plan your selection criteria:

  1. What needs to be better after we fill this position?
  2. What combination of strengths and talents do we need to ensure our company’s success?  (I.e. technical skills, someone to push the envelope, an aspiring leader, or a great follower)

2. Design 

Selection criteria must include all aspects of the job Then rank each criterion as being either ‘essential’ or an ‘asset’ to performing the job.  

Two Questions to ask as you design your selection criteria

  1. What level of talent is required to give us the bench strength we need to deliver on our business plan/strategic direction? 
  2. Will this role meet the employee’s need for autonomy, mastery and purpose?

Specifics of the job description should include:

  • A list of  essential and asset skills; and the level to which tasks must be performed (expert, intermediate, junior)
  • A description of accountabilities and desired outcomes
  • Inclusive language that encourages the greatest diversity of candidates

Essential = must have
Asset = nice to have

3. Align

Next, align the job description to your business plan and the individual’s performance plan, and be linked to any incentive or recognition program.  The goal is to clearly demonstrate how individual effort contributes to the manager’s and senior leaders’ performance goals; and ultimately to the success of the company overall.  

Two Questions to ask as you align your selection criteria

  • What are the essential qualifications that will help someone be successful in this role? (I.e. Teamwork skills, consensus decision-making, other?)
  • What are the attitudes and behaviors that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and retention for our business?

4. Deliver

The next phase is to sit in across from a candidate, and in effect, deliver on your plan. Throughout the process, you’ve demonstrated a commitment to selecting only the most qualified candidates.  To deliver the results both you and the candidate really want, your final selection should be on the basis of best fit with the job.  That means selecting the candidate with the competencies and capabilities the job demands.  It’s somewhat subjective; however, this is where you can use a little of your intuition. 

Two Questions to ask as you deliver your selection criteria

  1. Are we seeing the full potential of this candidate in addition to their current competencies? 
  2. Are we attracting an employee who can see possibilities in our business? 

The Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter whether you make machinery or doughnuts, sell business services or wood products; you have a customer and a company reputation to protect. Having the right selection criteria is the first step toward eliminating a poor hire.