A mindset for selection panels

How well a selection panel performs its role – meets applicants, gathers and assesses evidence – depends in part, on their mindset – meaning the beliefs they hold, the assumptions they make, the expectations they have about people.

Some beliefs can constrain panel members, limiting their ability to see all that a person has to offer. Some assumptions can be unfair and prevent a person being fully assessed.

What would be a useful mindset, one that fosters an intention to be fair, respectful and open minded to all applicants? Here are my suggestions:

  • Start from a position that selecting staff is a critical management responsibility, rather than a tiresome interruption to your ‘real work’.
  • Respect the time applicants have put into compiling their application, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the process.
  • Consider each application in full. Even if you have a large pile of applicants, resist taking the easy path to quickly identify a reason to cull, rather than consider what a person offers.
  • Consider transferability of skills and experience. Just becasue  a person hasn’t worked in the public service doesn’t mean they can’t do the job.
  • Respect all levels of jobs. Avoid taking the view “It’s just an ASO 3 – not very important, therefore we don’t have to give this much effort.” A person entering an agency at a lower level may one day hold a very senior position. If the current role involves contact with the public, it needs to be given as much, if not more effort, than a more senior role.
  • Know how much flexibility you have during the process. Taking a narrow, rigid, rule-based approach will not deliver a sound result.
  • Some of what you consider to be rules, may only be hearsay or past practice.
  • Keep in mind that for some people, writing is not their strength. This may be because they have held jobs that didn’t demand much writing. If the job you are filling doesn’t involve much writing, don’t eliminate a person solely on the basis of poor writing. Writing is a skill that can be learnt.
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.