Are your HR staff supporting your selection process?

A quality selection process is achieved through collaboration between multiple players – the delegate, panel chair, panel members, contact person, HR or recruitment staff. All play a role in building the reputation of an organisation.

HR or recruitment staff handle multiple recruitment processes with much of the work of a transactional nature. Herein lies the risk. If these transactions are handled as ordinary, procedural matters they can set a tone that is unfriendly, even officious, before an applicant even meets the panel. Some examples illustrate how.

Advice about interviews

Emails to applicants advising of an interview can be friendly and inviting or abrupt and instructional. How would you like to be invited to an interview?

I refer to your application for position 5432. The panel have arranged to interview you on Tuesday 10 February at 11:30am.


Thank you for your interest in the position of Policy Officer (PN 5432). I am please to let you know your application has been short listed. We would like to invite you to attend an interview on Tuesday 10 February at 11.30.

Meeting commitments

If an applicant asks for information and the person says they’ll find out and get back to them, then they need to do so. Not meeting commitments is irritating and suggests people can’t be relied on.

Not knowing details

Should an applicant ask for information about details in the email, the person needs to know the answer. For example, if the email advises who is on the selection panel but gives no information about who these people are, and the applicant asks, the person should be able to answer.

Not being helpful

Let’s suppose an applicant has been advised by email to attend an interview. The applicant knows that parking is a problem and asks for suggestions about where to find a park. A general response that there ‘is some available nearby’ is useless to the applicant. Such unhelpful behaviour, particularly if combined with other behaviours like the above, is likely to be off-putting. Who wants to work for an organisation that is so unhelpful?

Blather about merit

Some people are very good at giving a general blather about merit principles in order to avoid giving applicants useful information. Much information-hiding justified by ‘we have to apply merit’ is nonsense. Applicants may start to wonder as to how professional the staff are.

It may well be tiresome to have to handle multiple recruitment processes and repeat the same or similar information. Even if pre-prepared material is used to make the process more efficient, the above behaviours can still be minimised by some thoughtful preparation. After all, most organisations either place value on good customer service and/or have a Service Charter which extols the virtues of providing quality service. How HR/recruitment staff behave in relation to applicants can seriously undermine an organisation’s reputation even before any one has set foot in the place.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.