Employees can make or break a company, it's that simple. Human resource experts use several steps to find applicants and bring suitable people on board. But the importance of selection isn't just about choosing candidates based on experience, skills and personalities that mesh with the company; it's about cutting costs and avoiding legal issues, too.

The ABC's of HRM Selection

Human resources management plays several roles when it comes to helping companies hire staff. Before the recruitment and selection process begins, HR gathers information from the organization about the type of position to be filled and the employee skills or expertise required to fill it.

The steps taken, the screening tools used and the questions asked are vital to the recruitment and selection process; they're designed to weed out applicants who are a poor fit and pinpoint the good ones. The HRM expert must ask each applicant or candidate the same questions in order to get a true idea of who's the best fit for the job – showing favoritism to one candidate over another results in an unfair, unbalanced selection.

The steps involved generally include:

  1. Reviewing applications submitted by job hunters to narrow down a shortlist of candidates. 
  2. Informing selected candidates about the job's particulars, asking about their skills and gauging their overall attitude. This step may involve psychological tests that help HR determine which applicant is the best fit.
  3. Asking the selected candidate about his experience and education, informing him about the company and the job's particulars and, maybe, introducing the potential new employee to the employer, in order to initiate their relationship.
  4. Performing background checks and possibly requesting medical examinations and credit checks. Basically, this step is a formality but if HR uncovers, say, a criminal record, they and the organization have the option to end the selection process or move on to the next step. 
  5. Contacting two or three references, including prior employers, if available. This part of the selection process is vital because it tells HR about the candidate's work history, such as how well she gets along with coworkers and management, how she treats clients or customers, if she's reliable and punctual and so on.     

What the Selection Process Is Not

It's just as important to know what actions and details are not acceptable in the HR selection process as it is to understand which ones are important. For instance, it's not okay to request personal information from candidates, including their age, religion, political preference or sex. Asking these types of questions is considered discrimination, which is illegal.

Although an organization can ask for a job candidate's date of birth for its records, the interviewer cannot discriminate against an interviewee based on her age. If an applicant suspects she's being discriminated against, say, when she's asked at what age she plans to retire, and then is turned down for the position, she might contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or even obtain a labor lawyer, which could prove costly for the company, not to mention detrimental to its reputation.

Considering Cost-Per-Hire

It's no secret that top-notch employees increase productivity, improve morale and impact the company in numerous other positive ways. In a nutshell, they're invaluable to building a successful venture. But the HR selection process of matching suitable candidates to particular jobs comes with costs.

On average, businesses pay at least $4,000 – and spend more than a month – selecting and hiring each employee, from the job posting and candidate sorting to the psychological testing and history checking. That figure might seem steep for new or small businesses (or even long-established ones), but when you consider the alternative, it's money well spent – imagine the costs associated with hiring untrustworthy, inexperienced or uncooperative people who misrepresent themselves on their resumes or during the hiring process, if you don't have an expert overseeing the recruitment process.

As with any hiring method, the human resources selection process isn't perfect, but it can reduce the number of times you have to rehire and retrain someone for a position. Isn't that worth the investment?