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Selecting the right candidate! - Latest Blog post
Recruiting someone to work for you can be a tricky business. You need to work out what the job entails and what skills and previous experience is necessary as well as any appropriate aptitudes. We often describe these in documents such as job descriptions and person specifications – but sometimes it is easy to confuse the previous post holder with what you need going forward. Does the successful applicant really have to have a degree in classics just because the previous post holder did? Probably not, unless it was a key subject area for the role. You may simply be looking for someone who is educated to a degree level – the subject matter may be less important. Indeed – do they actually need a degree at all or would equivalent experience be sufficient?

It can be very constraining to have a tightly prescriptive person specification in terms of levels of qualifications and can sometimes work against you. What if you interview a candidate that didn’t look as good as others on the application form, but shone through at interview although she didn’t have the qualifications you had specified as “essential”? You may have another candidate who looks better on paper and has all the required qualifications and experience. If you give the job to another candidate who does not meet the “essential” criteria, you are opening yourself up to a potential claim of discrimination.

It is important to distinguish between candidates, but not discriminate unfairly. Remember attributes such as gender, age or marital status etc. should not be factors in your decision to appoint – only the individual’s ability to do the job.

Once you have selected on skills and appropriate experience, the other factor you need to assess is whether the preferred working styles of the candidates will suit the job and whether they will work well with colleagues in the team. Do you need someone creative or detail-focussed? Do you need someone who is capable of making decisions quickly or someone who is more cautious and risk-averse? You can find this out by using appropriate psychometric questionnaires.

But finally, make sure you have taken up references and not just relied on testimonials supplied by the candidates themselves. Contact former employers to find out why the employee left their previous job and check out all gaps in the application form. There may be entirely valid reasons for the gaps, but you don’t want an unwelcome surprise if you take on a problem employee. It might sound like a lot of work, but believe me it can take up a lot more management time if you get it wrong! For help and advice with any of this, please talk to your HR advisor – before you act.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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