Ensuring fair and transparent candidate evaluations

Last updated:
May 2, 2022
July 1, 2022
min read
Brendan McConnell
fair and transparent candidate evaluations
Table of contents

Fair and transparent candidate evaluations should be a priority for every recruiter and hiring team. Not only does this help to ensure that you’re treating every applicant with respect, but it also has cascading benefits for quality of hire, employer branding, company reputation, and long term retention.

How a company manages candidate evaluations is a strong indicator of how they’re likely to treat employees once hired. Organizations that prioritize fairness and transparency are more likely to reap the benefits of high-quality inbound talent.

In this article, we’re going to look at what the goals of your candidate evaluation process should be, some techniques you can use to ensure transparent applicant screening and ways you can set yourself up for success.

Let’s get started.

What’s the goal of candidate evaluation?

The overarching goal of evaluating candidates is to ensure that you hire the best one. That’s obvious. But what exactly does that entail?

There are numerous factors (or sub-goals) that contribute to this overall goal of “hiring the best talent”. These priorities work together to form the philosophy by which you evaluate candidates, and the desired effects you’re looking to achieve.

Some common goals of candidate evaluation include:

  • Enabling unbiased hiring decisions. People are inherently biased in how they judge other people and make decisions. Using techniques and processes that remove as much of this bias as possible should be a central goal of your candidate evaluations.
  • Providing a fair candidate experience. Evaluation is just one component of a great candidate experience. Making this experience a fair one involves numerous techniques working in tandem to ensure an overall positive association with your company.
  • Making recruitment more efficient. By this, we mean making the overall hiring process as quick and efficient as possible. This cuts down on waste for your recruitment team, but it also ensures that applicants get a straight answer as quickly as possible.
  • Effectively identifying the best hire in the applicant pool. This may seem like a no-brainer, but effectively identifying the best hire is a lot different than hiring who you think is the best candidate. Identifying who the best candidate really is takes a combination of evaluation techniques that in sum contribute to a fair process overall.

Each of the above goals is achieved through a series of screening and candidate relationship management techniques that make up your overall hiring process. If your goal is to ensure transparency and fairness, then you’ll need a clear set of techniques to make that a reality.

In the next section, we’ll take a look at some techniques you can incorporate into your hiring process to ensure transparent screening.

Techniques to ensure transparent candidate screening

Ensuring fairness and transparency requires a combination of screening, communication, and planning techniques that work together to inform your overall hiring strategy.

Your candidate evaluation process should strive to treat each candidate equally, effectively communicate about the process and how they’re doing, and be guided by thorough planning and execution. Working together, each of these philosophies helps to build a fair and transparent hiring process.

Here are some techniques you can use to build out a transparent candidate evaluation process:

  • Create a process for writing job descriptions and ads. This often includes assembling a hiring team to establish an accurate list of job requirements by committee. These job requirements are then used to create an ideal candidate persona and corresponding recruitment ads that appeal to that type of person. Taking the time to get your requirements and ads right will help ensure that you’re not encouraging the wrong people to apply out of the gate.
  • Create fair and consistent shortlisting parameters. Based on those job requirements, you should very clearly lay out what candidates must have in order to make it past the first cut. Shortlisting candidates often involves automated parsing of resumes based on keywords. Being uncertain about what you’re looking for can result in the unfair removal of qualified candidates from your candidate pool.
  • Use structured interviews and targeted questioning. Likewise, you must have clearly established parameters for how you intend to interview candidates. What types of questions are you going to ask? How are you going to measure and compare the answers? Interviewing each candidate differently will make it nearly impossible to evaluate them objectively. Instead, use a structured approach to your interviews that uses targeted questions that relate directly to your job requirements. Ask all candidates the same questions, in the same order, and evaluate them based on a standardized scorecard.
  • Openly communicate at each stage of the process. Transparency means telling candidates what to expect at the start of the application process, keeping them informed throughout, and notifying them of the outcome. Failing to do so creates a veil of uncertainty around your hiring process that can result in a feeling of unfairness in the applicants. Create a communication process, and implement the proper tools to ensure that you’re keeping each candidate informed at critical stages of the hiring process.
  • Adopt a collaborative approach to screening. One of the best ways to combat subjectivity is to take a collaborative approach to hiring. Create a hiring team that will be in charge of evaluating the results of your screening activities. This might include interviews with each hiring team member, a collaborative review of job tests, or a decision-by-committee approach to making final hiring decisions. Taking the final say out of the hands of the individual, and giving that power to the group will help to ensure that your hiring decisions are fair, transparent, and in line with your company values.
  • Use quantitative testing. Job and personality tests that use objective measurement techniques are a great way to ensure fair candidate assessment. These might be tests that focus on personality, cognitive ability, or job function. Use these results to build out your candidate profiles. This will help guide you towards a more objective decision in the end.
  • Create and publish a mandate for diversity. Fair candidate evaluations focus on finding the best candidate, regardless of background or demographics. As such, taking a deliberate approach to ensuring diversity in your organization is critical to fairly evaluating candidates. Many of the most successful companies in the world have gone to great lengths to ensure diversity, and many have held themselves accountable by openly publishing their policies.

Of course, the above techniques alone won’t guarantee ongoing transparency and fairness in your candidate evaluations. To guarantee that, you need to create processes and policies that set you up for sustained success.

Setting yourself up for success in candidate evaluations

Creating a clear mandate and set of practices that guide daily workflows will help ensure that your transparent candidate evaluation policy is sustainable. Again, setting yourself up for success comes down to the right planning and a dedication to your established processes.

Here are some ways you to ensure fair and transparent candidate evaluations for the long haul:

  • Set the right expectations from the start.
  • Source in the right places.
  • Share and adhere to hiring timelines.
  • Brief candidates on the process.
  • Train your employees on fair interviewing techniques.
  • Create a culture of open feedback.
  • Use automation tools to ensure objective shortlisting.

Candidate evaluation processes come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on the company and the position in question. Techniques and philosophies will inevitably vary depending on the organization.

What is consistent, however, is that job seekers want to feel like they’ve been treated fairly. Delivering on that will help your company establish itself as a fair and desirable employer, which will undoubtedly result in more and better talent knocking on your door.

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