Recruitment and Selection


Recruitment is the process of seeking applicants for positions within a business - on either a general basis or targeted to address particular vacancies. Selection takes the next step, where the employer makes a choice between two or more interested applicants. However, applicants also select their future employer, making decisions as to how much further they wish to pursue their original employment enquiry (Torrington, Hall, Taylor & Atkinson, 2014). The successful conclusion of both processes is the creation of a legally binding agreement between the employer and the employee, setting out the rights, obligations and expectations of both parties (Armstrong, 2006).


Recruitment is about capturing and understanding all activities directed at locating potential employees. This involves making sure that we understand what needs to be done to attract applications from suitable candidates (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). Recruitment methodologies must be fair and comply with the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks and activities must contribute to corporate goals, reflect organisational brand and values whilst also being efficient and cost effective (Foot & Hook, 2008).

Any recruitment process must begin with an analysis of the requirement. The role should be reduced to its basic components such as the nature of the activities, task responsibilities, the knowledge, skills and competences required to carry it out effectively and where it fits within the organisation (e.g. level/grade and reporting responsibilities) (Currie, 2006). The requirement can be placed in the wider organisational context, considering how corporate actions such as organisational changes are likely to shape business needs. Developing a detailed understanding of what is driving the requirement for recruitment action will inform subsequent selection decisions (Taylor, 2014).

This analysis of the requirement should consider what ‘types’ of people are needed, when are they needed and how many are needed? From this, it is possible to create role profiles outlining the purpose of the position, the key competences needed and the outputs required. Role profiles should include the terms and conditions of any appointment, highlighting potential development and career opportunities that could arise.

This role profile supports the development of the more in-depth job description which considers the core and functional competences needed, the behaviours and standards expected and the qualifications, skills and experience necessary for the role. Behaviours and standards should be linked to corporate values to attract candidates likely to fit the corporate culture. Job descriptions should also discuss output expectations and what candidates are likely to receive in return (i.e. pay and benefits) (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).

Only in taking such steps will businesses be able to attract candidates with the right mix of skills and potential (Torrington et al, 2014).


If a decision has been made to recruit, then it is necessary to understand what the job consists of, how it is to be different from that done by any previous incumbent, what role aspects identify the type of candidate required and the key things that the ideal candidate would wish to know before deciding to apply (Torrington et al, 2014). To do so requires a level of analysis which could be carried out by:

  • Observation - watching people do the job.
  • Reviewing reflective reports maintained by those carrying out the same role.
  • Interviews.
  • Critical incident techniques i.e. asking people to identify the most important tasks they carry out.
  • Structured work profiling - deconstructing the role into tasks and sub-tasks.

(Searle, 2004)


From the analysis conducted, a role profile can be created. This should be outputs focussed and the aim should be to apply active verbs (e.g. identify, create, deliver) to ensure that the profile is built around the duties involved rather than any potential candidate (Armstrong, 2006).

From an examination of such role profiles, it is them possible to develop the job description - recording the component parts and principle accountabilities of the role; and the person specification - identifying the attributes and competences required. (Beardwell & Thompson, 2014). Capturing the requirement in this way provides the criteria against which subsequent applications can be reviewed and tested.


Before any advertising or potential candidate engagement takes place, it is also necessary to consider internal recruitment action and employer branding

Considering internal candidates shows how a company values people, motivating staff through a focus on ‘careers’ rather than just ‘jobs’ (Bratton & Gold, 2007). Also, internal recruitment is usually a more cost-effective process (Oxford Economics, 2014). Internal recruiting also increases the probability of securing people who understand the corporate values, but this needs to be balanced against the new capabilities and skills that external recruitment can introduce (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).

Potential employees of a company are also brand consumers and this presents an opportunity for businesses to use this as a means of attracting good quality applications from candidates likely to share the values and standards of the company. In essence, a company can become an employer of first choice (Taylor, 2014). A successful employer brand can create a ‘push’ effect - potential candidates market themselves to the company rather than waiting for the business to initiate external recruitment action (Taylor, 2014). It has been shown that creating a strong employer brand approach can reduce direct recruitment costs and the time taken to fill vacant positions (Murphy, 2008).

Ultimately, a recruitment method must be chosen which reflects employer branding and which will attract suitable candidates. The aim must be to reach not only those actively seeking a new role, but also those who may be attracted by the new challenges being presented (Torrington et al, 2014). Potential methods include company websites, recruitment agencies, trade journals, job centres, direct advertising (internet-based as well as more traditional media such as newspapers), social and professional networking and alumni groups.


Selection is one of the most important HR tasks, since it is vital to fill vacant positions with people who are not only suitably skilled for specific jobs, but are also flexible, willing and able to cope with change (Leatherbarrow & Fletcher, 2015: 189). The selection processes used must be unbiased and legally compliant and the human resources (HR) department must also look at wider corporate requirements (such as succession planning and future capability needs) (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).


Depending on the approach outlined in the engagement/advertising method employed the initial information about the candidate is now likely to be received in one of four ways - through a completed application form, the submission of a CV, access to a professional profile (such as LinkedIn) or the nomination/sponsorship of a recruitment agent (Leatherbarrow & Fletcher, 2015). The challenge is to maximise access to the potential talent pool available, whilst minimising the associated costs in terms of time and administration (Beardwell & Thompson, 2014). Ideally a panel approach can be used to create a suitable short-list for further action.

Before any screening takes place, those involved should ensure that the essential selection criteria have been agreed, using the role profile, job description and person specification as the foundation. The aim should be to build a manageable talent pool to consider further. Such screening approaches are unlikely to tell recruiters much about a candidate’s character, values and work ethic. Consequently, telephone interviews can be conducted, along with early referencing checks in order to obtain a more rounded view (Muller-Camen, Croucher & Leigh, 2008).


Whatever selection methodology is adopted, it is important to ensure that the candidates are aware of the process they will face so that they can prepare appropriately. The selection process and techniques applied must also be able to identify individual differences to create some form of candidate ranking. This should also provide some form of indication or prediction as to how the candidate is likely to perform in their future workplace (Bratton & Gold, 2007).

The most common UK selection approach is the interview, with the structure built around either the contents of the CV or application form (biographical basis - cultural fit and past performance), competency examination (current skills for the role) or critical incident review (considering behavioural responses). The aim must be to answer three key questions - can the candidate do the job (competency), will they do the job (motivation) and how will they fit in (culture and behaviours) (Armstrong, 2006). Using a panel approach is also suggested (where the organisation is large enough) to help reach an impartial selection decision that balances both the interests of the business and the candidate(s).

Tests of personality and ability can also be used to measure certain aspects of an individual’s behaviour to try and assess their suitability for a particular role (Bratton & Gold, 2007). These generally focus on mental abilities (e.g. verbal reasoning and numeracy), but where appropriate more physical tests can be applied (e.g. keyboard/typing speeds for administration staff) (Leatherbarrow and Fletcher, 2015).

Some entities use assessment centres, bringing together a number of selection techniques to make judgements as to the suitability (and relative ranking) of candidates (Bratton & Gold, 2007). Participants are observed throughout by assessors trained in performance measurement and group exercises are often used to consider inter-personal skills and associated dynamics. Activities can included numeracy and literacy assessments, team communication exercises, work-specific role play scenarios and structured interviews.

Job simulation approaches can also be applied if this is likely to provide a critical indicator of suitability and performance. This ‘work sampling’ approach can also be used to assess candidates without creating a formal assessment centre or psychometric evaluation. Some companies will offer internship opportunities to provide time for both the individual and the company to consider if they are likely to meet each other’s aspirations and expectations.


When a candidate is called forward for selection (i.e. after screening) references should be requested. Role-specific requirements should also be carried out and these can include criminal records checks, medical examinations and confirming the candidate’s right to work in the UK (Muller-Camen et al, 2008). When an offer is made and accepted, then unsuccessful candidates should be informed at the same time.


Induction is often not effectively addressed and should be considered as an integral and final step in the selection and appointment process. Induction processes (both role specific and those focussed on broader business concerns) must be reviewed regularly. Poor induction can lead to newly appointed staff members choosing to leave which can make all the previous recruitment and selection efforts pointless, increasing costs and undermining corporate reputation (CIPD, 2007).


Diversity in recruitment and selection is essentially about managing people in a way that both recognizes and values differences between people. Such differences can also be a source of productive potential within an organisation (Bratton & Gold, 2007).

It is essential to employ the people best suited to the role(s) advertised without regard to their sex, marital status, racial origins, sexual preferences, religion, disability or age. (Leatherbarrow & Fletcher, 2015).

The basic rationale is to provide a ‘level playing field’ allowing everyone to compete for a position on equal terms (Torrington et al, 2014). To deliver such equal terms, many organisations take positive action (rather than positive discrimination which raises legal issues) to help potentially disadvantaged sectors access the same opportunities. However, organisations must ensure that such policies are linked to clear business objectives and organisational values in order to address the root causes of any discrimination that may exist (Torrington et al, 2014).


This chapter aims to draw clear distinction between recruitment and selection. The intent has been to demonstrate how solid preparation increases the chances of selecting the ‘right candidate’ for the role concerned. Recruitment approaches must also address the legislative frameworks that exist, as well as concerns around discrimination and diversity - equality of opportunity must exist.

More fundamentally, an individual’s personal experience of recruitment and selection processes shapes their perceptions of the company concerned. The challenge is to therefore ensure that in selecting the ‘right candidate’, a business leaves all the other applicants with a positive view of the company.


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