What Are Effective Employee Selection Techniques?

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Posted by: David Garcia April 22, 2022

The people you have on your team can make or break the performance outcomes of your business. Even as commerce shifts further toward automation, people are still profoundly relevant to the work we do in this tech-driven world.

But managing people isn’t always a walk in the park. Do you ever feel frustrated with the unknowns when hiring a new candidate at your company?

You’re not alone.

As a business leader, there’s a lot of pressure riding on the hiring decisions you make.

Here, we’ll walk you through the basics of employee selection techniques, so you can find and hire skilled candidates that align with your company’s mission and culture.

What Is Employee Selection?

Employee selection is the process of identifying, assessing, and hiring a candidate for an open position. It’s commonly referred to as candidate selection or simply called hiring.

While employee selection is an essential task of any HR department, the process often looks very different from one company to the next. The variation occurs because every organization has different requirements for a candidate.

For example, a computer programmer doesn’t necessarily need exemplary customer service skills, but they do need extensive technical knowledge. When hiring for this role, you may bypass a round of talk interviews and instead conduct skills assessments.

Other factors can impact how your company conducts employee selection, including your recruiting budget and available resources. Additionally, hiring managers should vet candidates for senior-level positions and key leadership roles more thoroughly than applicants for entry-level jobs.

All of this means that it’s vital for your organization to be flexible in its approach to hiring. Standards are essential to maintain equity, but you should tailor methods to the unique role you’re hoping to fill.

What Are the Types of Employee Selection Methods?

With so many ways to navigate hiring, the list of selection methods to choose from is limitless. As we’ve discussed, different methods will work better for different roles. But it’s equally important to consider how you are identifying candidates in the first place.

Here, we’ll break down the most common ways to categorize selection techniques so that you can determine the best approach for your agency.

External or Internal Recruitment

External recruiting is what people typically associate with hiring. The process starts when hiring managers post jobs on forums or job boards to attract the attention of people outside the agency.

Alternatively, companies can post jobs internally. With internal recruiting, the goal is to fill positions with staff already working for your organization.

There are benefits to both of these approaches for employee selection, and it’s common for companies to seek candidates both internally and externally for open roles. When hiring externally, you have the opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives. With internal recruiting, candidates are already familiar with the company’s structure, culture, and mission. For unique environments or leadership roles, this can be a huge asset.

Boomerang Hires

Boomerang recruitment refers to hiring people who previously worked for your agency but left on good terms. Those people are already familiar with how your business runs, and you have prior positive experiences with them.

That established rapport can be a great way to fill open positions quickly. Boomerang hiring is common for seasonal or temporary roles, such as interim directors.

Direct vs. Social Recruiting Channels

You can post jobs in many places, including direct and social sources. Some examples of direct channels include online job boards and newspapers. On the other hand, social recruiting utilizes social media networks to advertise open jobs at your organization.

Neither approach is wrong, but it’s essential to consider your target audience when deciding where to advertise an available position. Younger generations will likely see and respond to your listing if you have a prominent social media following. If you opt to list roles in more traditional forums, you’ll attract an older crowd of applicants and more professionals established in their careers.

Apprenticeships and Internships

If you need to fill entry-level jobs, it may be wise to consider listing the openings as apprenticeships or internships. Recruiting this way means that most applicants will be genuinely interested in the work you’re doing. While candidates may have limited job experience, they will have the enthusiasm and potential to grow and develop their skills on the job.

Plus, internships are a common requirement for students. By tapping into this population, you’ll have access to enthusiastic learners just getting started in your field. Their desire to learn and grow in the industry can be a substantial asset to your company.

Former Applicants 

Another way to recruit for an open position is to reach out to people who previously have applied for jobs at your organization.

In the ideal scenario, former applicants will have been shortlisted candidates for the previous position. These contacts can be an excellent place to start since you already have their applications and resumes on file and know their qualifications and skillsets. It can save you significant time in the hiring process.

Referral Network

Your company can also encourage or reward current staff for reaching out to their networks on behalf of the company.

Your employees know better than anyone what it takes to be successful at your agency, so they are in a powerful place to recommend candidates who they believe would be a good fit.

Best Employee Selection Techniques for Choosing Top Talent

In the US alone, businesses lost roughly 6.1 million employees in February 2022. With so many people seeking jobs — and so many competitors with positions to fill — choosing the perfect employee for a role can be challenging.

Here are employee selection techniques that can help your business pick the cream of the crop out of the talent pool.

General Mental Ability Assessments

Experts say that assessing general mental ability, also referred to as cognitive ability, is the top way to predict how someone will perform on the job. A highly effective selection technique, general mental ability tests are a simple way to anticipate performance at all job levels and across industries.

These types of assessments measure a person’s ability to learn. They also can assess someone’s strengths in different kinds of reasoning, from numerical or logical to abstract or verbal.

A cognitive assessment can be highly beneficial information since different roles demand different types of cognition. For example, a copywriter should demonstrate strength in verbal cognitive ability, while numerical talent may be more critical for a coder.

However, perhaps one downside to this technique is that some people do not perform well in testing situations, even if they have exceptional cognitive abilities. When using mental ability assessments, it’s advisable to pair the data with other candidate assessment tools.

Situational Judgement Tests

A good assessment for managerial roles or positions that demand considerable problem-solving, situational judgment testing allows you to learn how a candidate would respond to specific circumstances or challenges.

In these tests, the applicant is given a series of scenarios and asked what choices they would make to achieve the desired outcome.

For these assessments, it’s good to use real-life examples of situations your company has faced.

Reference Checks

Many job listings require references as part of the application, and for a good reason. References are the only opportunity for your agency to talk with a third party about the candidate.

Since that person has professional or personal experience with the applicant, reference checks provide an essential window into how working with the candidate may be in reality.

Contacting references can also be a way to speed up the hiring process. Speaking to others about the candidate before requesting an interview or formal assessment could save your agency ample time and resources while narrowing the candidate pool.

Sample Work Assignments

By giving the applicant a sample work assignment, your company can combine two assessment techniques. You’ll see how the candidate approaches problems and communicates while testing their level of relevant, job-related knowledge.

In addition, you get to see how they react to the assignment itself. A candidate who approaches the challenge with eagerness is likely to have the same positive attitude when dealing with actual work assignments.

It’s wise to keep these assignments concise and to the point, as it isn’t appropriate to demand too much labor from a potential hire. Provide detailed instructions and make yourself available for clarifying questions, if needed.


The classic job interview remains one of the most informative employee selection methods—so long as you use effective interview techniques.

For interviewers, you will want to plan your questions ahead of time to get the most out of the meeting.

Instead of discussing generic topics like the standard “tell me about yourself,” try asking specific questions directly related to the job. Use a consistent scoring system from one candidate to the next to make your hiring process as equitable as possible.

One good way to approach an interview is to have a panel of interviewers who ask questions and score the applicant individually. When the meeting concludes, the panel can compare their scores. The panel style format helps eliminate bias in the interview process while allowing for various viewpoints.

Job Trials

Hiring is a long-term investment in a new employee and a commitment to that individual’s professional growth. You want to make sure you’re choosing the right candidate. Job trials are a great way to ensure you’re betting on the right applicant.

In some industries, such as restaurants, job trials are standard practice. They allow employers to see someone in action before hiring them.

Your company can invite top candidates into the workplace for a couple of hours or a whole day. A trial run is beneficial in workplaces with lots of collaboration, as you can get a sense of how the candidate would fit in with your current staff.

While not all job trials are paid, it may be advantageous to compensate the person for their time. Paid job trials can help distinguish your organization in a competitive market and ensure that the top talent comes to you.

Background Checks

Commonly one of the last steps taken before making a job offer, conducting background checks is another way to receive third-party information about a candidate. Your agency can learn about a person’s criminal history, driving record, past employment, and more in a background check.

This step helps weed out candidates with records that conflict with your business interests. They can also help protect the security of your company.

Additionally, background checks can help verify the truthfulness of what a candidate has told you. For example, it doesn’t bode well if a potential employee claims they worked for a specific company, but there is no evidence in the reference or background checks. If integrity is essential to your organization, a background check is a worthwhile investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are commonly asked questions about employee selection techniques.

What Is the Most Widely Used Employee Selection Technique?

Standardized applications are commonly online today instead of on paper, and they are the most widely used employee selection technique. Often, an application is the first step, followed by a phone screen or an in-person interview. While these are the most common steps in hiring, they may not be the best for every position.

What Is the Least Effective Type of Employee Selection Technique?

The least effective employee selection technique will always be the one that doesn’t align with your organization’s goals. If you’re filling a position that demands rote activities but strenuous physical labor, conducting in-depth cognitive ability assessments won’t get you very far. Make sure you tailor your hiring process to your company’s unique needs.

Generally, though, open-ended, unstructured talk interviews are not very productive. Make sure you keep your questioning specific and stay on track.


With so many ways to approach hiring, finding the perfect method for your company can be tricky. Consider your organization’s needs and priorities before settling on a specific employee selection technique.

While you focus on that, leave the rest up to ScoutLogic. With a variety of bulk screening services available, you’ll find the perfect complement to your hiring procedures. Reach out today!

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