Opinion: A guide for quick selection decisions

Recruiters of temporary staff are often under pressure to make quick and accurate selection decisions. Stephen Walton offers a simple guide to assist with the task.

Opinion: A guide for quick selection decisions

Recruiters of temporary staff are often under pressure to make quick and accurate selection decisions. Stephen Walton offers a simple guide to assist with the task.

The Fenchurch Selection Decision Guide© in Figure 1 illustrates that the broad indicators of fit between a candidate and a job can be usefully understood in terms of what motivates a person, what they must know and be skilled and experienced at doing, and what physical and mental attributes are required for successful job performance.

Figure 1.  Fenchurch Selection Decision Guide©

Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE)

Work related knowledge and the skill that can develop in any work activity are often central to determining a candidate’s suitability for a job. In addition, relevant experience which provides candidates with an understanding of context so that they can apply their knowledge and skills appropriately in different situations will inform a recruiter’s judgement about the fit between a person and a job.


Put simply, motivation is the drive that people experience to satisfy their needs. It is the anticipation of fulfilling certain needs that motivates a candidate to pursue a particular job, while achieving satisfaction of one’s needs at work promises greater employee productivity and tenure. Selecting a candidate with the right motivation means ensuring that there is a good fit between their needs and the satisfactions that a job delivers.
Physical and Mental Attributes
Every job has a physical dimension and recruiters should be prepared to incorporate the physical selection criteria for a job into their decision-making regardless of whether they are selecting for blue-collar jobs or white-collar roles.
Jobs can also be performed more or less successfully based on an employee’s mental (intellectual and personality) characteristics. People have different innate intellectual capacities, which will mean that some candidates are naturally more capable of learning new things and solving certain types of problems. A recruiter would therefore find is useful to match the intellectual demands of a job to the ability of candidates.
Similarly, jobs can have different requirements in terms of a person’s personality and the unique emotion, thought and behaviour patterns they will display. Recognising that jobs operate within organisational cultures that value certain beliefs and ways of behaving above others means that there are personality characteristics that will represent a better fit with a job.
Making quick selection decisions 

A quick selection decision will be based on the answers to questions about each of the broad indicators of fit. For example, does the candidate possess the KSE necessary to successfully undertake a job? Is there a suitable alignment between what the candidate wants from a job and the satisfactions that a job delivers? Is there an acceptable degree of fit between the physical and mental demands of a job and what a candidate will bring to the role? 

The guide in Figure 1 is colour coded, like traffic lights, to indicate how a recruiter should proceed with their selection decision based on the degree of candidate/job fit. Working from the centre, a candidate will fall into the green sector if they meet the criteria for selection in each of the three broad indicators of fit and a recruiter should feel confident about making a positive recommendation.
A candidate who is assessed as matching a job in relation to any two broad indicators of fit will fall into a yellow sector. For example, the intersection of Motivation and Physical & Mental Attributes indicates that a candidate is appropriately motivated and possesses the physical capability as well as the mental resources to do a job. What they lack is the right KSE, which represents a risk to an employer.  In this situation a recruiter might conclude that the candidate is not suitable or, they could make a cautious recommendation if an employer is able to compensate for the candidate’s KSE deficit. A shortfall in knowledge and skills is generally the least risky deficit for an employer to manage.
A candidate who is judged to meet the criteria for selection in only one of the broad indicators of fit will fall into a red sector. For example, a candidate falling into the red KSE sector possesses the knowledge, skills and experience to do a job but lacks the required mental attributes or a physical compatibility with the job. In addition, there is an absence of the right motivation, which typically leads to patchy work performance. Together, these shortcomings represent a substantial risk to an employer and such candidates would not normally be recommended.


By concentrating on the three broad indicators of fit a recruiter can be assured of making a quick selection decision that should deliver the right candidate for a job. The Fenchurch Selection Decision Guide© also provides a structure for conversations about candidates with prospective employers and it will assist a recruiter to classify the type of risk that a candidate might represent, which in turn allows an employer to make an informed hiring decision.

Stephen Walton, is principal psychologist with Fenchurch Corporate Psychology.

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