Candidates’ business competencies verification through a “real business case”

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This issue will again pay attention to the process of selecting candidates as the most important and first in team building, which is the engine of our business results. In the last issue we focused on the evaluation of the candidates. Therefore, we will now focus mainly on the assessment of real business skills by setting the well-known “real case” originating from the real practice of our business. However, it is important not to forget the evaluation of the value profile which is fundamental and always present in each of the stages of getting-to-know the candidates and making a decision.

In the last issue we paid attention to lightening the communication with the candidates by de-formalizing it. However, relying solely on the informal approach creates the possibility of insufficiently informed choices and the need to reinvest time and money to reconsider the decision taken. This would lead to the restart of the process from the very beginning – redefining the profile of the wanted candidate, search and evaluation of new candidates, introduction of the new selected candidate in the work process.

Our experience shows that the “real case” tool is used insufficiently thoughtfully, precisely and purposefully, which leads to low added value and rather loss of resources in carrying out this additional step (time and indirect costs associated with the participation of our employees in process).

It is common practice to use this step as an additional and more optional, rather than as a main one in the verification process.

The tool is most often used as a third step in the process, after a telephone interview and an initial live interview with a HR representative or line manager in a smaller structure. Another practice is to ask “real case” questions during the first live interview, to which the candidate should answer at the moment. In both situations there is a danger of useless distortion of the final result of the step.

In the first case, there is a danger that we will spend unnecessary time for meetings with candidates who are not experienced enough, or do not have the desired character and value match. In the second case, there is a danger that we will not put the candidate in a “real” case situation. This leads to a misconception of the candidate’s values, skills and thinking, based on the short time they have to prepare the answer, or to receive a learned response, which in turn distorts our ability to make informed choices.

Both cases can be avoided by checking the candidate with a well-prepared and set “real case” before the first live meeting The “earned” time can be used to improve the experience and get to know the candidates we consider most desirable and we think would work with us. This builds our positive positioning as an employer and saves resources from the possible further need to reconsider our decision.

It often happens that the first live interview is conducted in the well-known and already worn-out format of telling the candidate’s CV and gathering general information such as “tell me about yourself”. The dynamic situation on the labor market, highlighted by the large number of companies with an excellent competitive advantage in terms of “remuneration”, which are fighting for a limited number of valuable “talents”, requires understanding and optimization of each step of the process. The trend in this case is to shorten the application process and the selection of a new job by the candidates. It often happens that while we carry out all the planned steps “by procedure”, the candidate has already accepted another job offer. Another scenario is the hasty shortening of the process in order to be able to respond to the offers of other companies that are fighting for “our candidates”, which leads to ill-considered, hurried, and subsequently wrong choice on our part.

Both the determination of the value characteristics and the business competencies that the position / team / company seeks in the suitable candidates, certainly originate from the professional needs and the specifics of the business. As already mentioned, it is a good practice setting similar case at the very beginning of the selection process, and more precisely before the first live interview.

We always follow an approach of specifically adapting this type of case to each new selection, taking into account the different position, company and team of the new employee, whether they are seemingly similar. For this we will present an example case, which would rather serve as an illustration for the reader, than as a template for each individual case of using this step.

The following example is for the position of “Senior Selection Consultant”, which we were looking for to develop our new business line.

After initially screening the candidates, through an analysis of the collected CVs and a brief introductory telephone conversation, we proceeded directly to the “real case”. Due to the good conduct of this step, it was not necessary to discuss the case during the live interview. In this way we managed to invest our time to focus on the deeper issues to the candidate, aiming at a folloing direct meeting with our senior management. This allowed us to reduce the decision-making time by 2 weeks and we focused only on the most suitable candidates. This also gave us the peace of mind to conduct better and in-depth interviews. As a result, we had enough information to respond quickly to a candidate who fits perfectly with our values, customers and way of working, but is also an active participant in the selection of other companies. Another course of action could unnecessarily prolong the process, leading to the omission of the right candidate, and subsequently having to compromise with less suitable candidates.

In compiling and submitting the case, we proceeded from the specific needs we meet in advising our clients on the selection of new employees. These are timely response, structured and in-depth retrieval of information, providing a specific applicable solution, a clear vision for managing and adapting the process, resourcefulness, experience with various tools for finding suitable candidates, excellent service and communication with the client.

The assigned case was about a real senior and specific position from our practice. We set a minimum score requirement, leaving room to add value to the candidate’s decision. We provided limited information about the client and the functions of the position, as often happens when starting work on a new project or a new client. We provided additional contact in the company to play the role of a “client”, with whom the candidate (consultant) to contact to extract information and form the solution of the task. The expected minimum score included:

  • a list of specific real candidates suitable for the position, thus checking the logic and resourcefulness of the candidate, his experience with platforms for finding candidates, the ability to provide practical solutions;
  • a sample advertisement for the position, through which we checked his information presentation skills, the level of English language, the orderliness of the candidate, his ability to extract information and synthesize its essence;
  • a proposal for a sample selection process, through which we tested the ability to understand all the steps and responsible persons in the process, beyond providing the so-called “short list” with candidates, and the vision of the way and the order of work..

With all these steps we checked the ability of the candidate to work independently in conditions of insufficient information, in which exceptional quality of counseling is expected. Through the feedback received from the contact person – “client” we got an idea of the ability of the candidate to get into the shoes of the other party and to assist the client. Checking the decision of the case took us 15 minutes per candidate. In this way, we took the time to meet with a single candidate directly with the line manager and the main partner in the company. We saved time from meetings with candidates for whom we were hesitant. We have optimized and shortened the process. As a result, we have attracted a colleague who will start to deliver value to our customers and develop our new business line with significantly less need for introduction. We have made a positive step in our positioning as an employer, as evidenced by the following feedback from candidates

  • the way of conducting the selection shows professionalism, which is fundamental for their final choice of a new job;
  • even the dropped candidates contacted us further to thank for the attitude, diligence and attention;
  • offered us their business contacts and opportunities where our efforts would be objectively assessed;
  • stated that they would definitely recommend our company to other job seekers;
  • last but not least, we left the door open for the possible occurrence of more suitable positions, for the candidates who performed excellently but were not selected.
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