Recruitment and selection are two important functions of human resources. Though linked together in what is generally called the employment discipline of human resources, they are two distinct functions. The recruitment phase is the initial step for all applicants–once the applicant presents the skills, knowledge base and qualifications, he/she moves into candidacy for a position and undergoes through the selection process..

Meaning of selection

Selection is the process of picking up individuals (out of the pool of job applicants) with requisite qualifications and competence to fill jobs in the organization. A formal definition of Selection is as under “Selection is the process of differentiating between applicants in order to identify and hire those with a greater likelihood of success in a job.” It can also be defined as the process of interviewing and evaluating candidates for a specific job and selecting an individual for employment based on certain criteria. Employee selection can range from a very simple process to a very complicated process depending on the firm hiring and the position. Certain employment laws such as anti-discrimination laws must be obeyed during employee selection.

Difference between recruitment and selection

Both recruitment and selection are the two phases of the employment process. The differences between the two are:

  1. Recruitment is the process of searching the candidates for employment and stimulating them to apply for jobs in the organization whereas selection involves the series of steps by which the candidates are screened for choosing the most suitable persons for vacant posts.
  2. The basic purpose of recruitments is to create a talent pool of candidates to enable the selection of best candidates for the organization, by attracting more and more employees to apply in the organisation whereas the basic purpose of selection process is to choose the right candidate to fill the various positions in the organisation.
  3. Recruitment is a positive process i.e. encouraging more and more employees to apply whereas selection is a negative process as it involves rejection of the unsuitable candidates.
  4. Recruitment is concerned with tapping the sources of human resources whereas selection is concerned with selecting the most suitable candidate through various interviews and tests.
  5. There is no contract of recruitment established in recruitment whereas selection results in a contract of service between the employer and the selected employee

Selection Process

Selecting candidates involves two main processes: shortlisting, and assessing applicants to decide who should be made a job offer. It is a crucial stage in the overall recruitment process which is outlined in our recruitment factsheet. Candidates’ applications may arrive as curriculum vitae (CV) or an application form. Whatever form they are in, it is important to make sure that all of those who are involved in the selection process, from the shortlisting stage onwards, are aware of the need to avoid unfair discrimination and the potential risk to the organization’s reputation should a candidate make a legal claim. Electronic techniques are also being used to slim down the number of potential candidates. In particular, using online recruitment can mean employers receive large numbers of applications from unsuitable candidates, so it can be helpful also to use technology to help manage the application forms. A typical selection process involves the following steps;

i)Preliminary Interview

This is the first step in selection process.  The purpose of preliminary interviews is basically to identify whether the candidate is suitable to fill the application blank and eliminate unqualified applications based on information supplied in application forms. The basic objective is to reject misfits. On the other hands preliminary interviews is often called a courtesy interview and is a good public relations exercise. It may be inform of a brief interview conducted in the reception that involves exchange of information relating to the organization and the candidate.

ii) Application blanks

These are forms that give information of candidates in summary form. They include age, gender, name, contacts, religion, and qualification etc., written in a candidate’s own handwriting. Their main purposes are for comparisons i.e. provide information to be compared with what the applicant had given in the application and also allow a candidate to demonstrate their suitability for the job. The forms should be simple but the questions need to be presented in a standard format and have a bearing to suitability of the candidate as well as   give information reflecting the personality of the candidate that is helpful during the interview

iii.    Selection Tests:

Jobseekers who pass the preliminary interviews are called for tests. There are various types of tests conducted depending upon the jobs and the company. These tests can be Aptitude Tests, , intelligence tests,  proficiency tests, Personality Tests, and Ability Tests and are conducted to judge how well an individual can perform tasks related to the job. Besides this there are some other tests also like Interest Tests (activity preferences), Graphology Test (Handwriting), Medical Tests, Psychometric Tests etc. The main problem of tests is that they are time consuming, expensive and expose job candidates to stigma.

  1. Employment Interview:

The next step in selection is employment interview. Interview is a formal, in-depth and controlled conversation with the applicant specifically set to obtain specific information from the job candidate. It is considered to be an excellent selection device. Interviews can be One-to-One, Panel Interview, or Sequential Interviews. Besides there can be Structured and Unstructured interviews, Behavioral Interviews, Stress Interviews.

Interviews are important because; they provide additional information about the applicant that cannot be given in an application letter, CV or other documents, they help in judging the suitability of a candidate, and they are used to explore candidate’s aptitudes and capability in addition to providing a candidate with an opportunity to ask questions about the organization and the job.

The limitations of interview are; they involve a lot of expenditure in terms of money and time, they normally test the personality of a person not the skills and abilities for the job, interviews are subject to personal judgments and bias of the interviewer. Sometimes, interviews do not have greater validity and meaning and when interviewers are not experts they may fail to get all the relevant information from the interviewee as has been seen in many parliamentary committees in Kenya.


Preparation of an interview

The success of an interview depends on the amount of preparation made by both the interviewer and interviewee who must take into consideration certain aspects of the interview. The interviewers must;

  • Ensure that the waiting room is  comfortable, attractive, neat and airy
  • Properly plan in terms of time to avoid candidates’ waiting for too long
  • Ensure there are no disturbances from visitors, other employees, traffic, telephone etc. in the interview room
  • Make the arrangement of the interview room comfortable and conducive
  • Have a copy of candidates application forms and other documents and familiarize him/ herself with the information provided
  • All members of interview panel should be experts in specific fields related to the job
  • Draft the questions to be asked in advance which saves time during the interview.


On the other hand, the interviewee should prepare as follows;

  • Find out as much as possible about the organization e.g. name of managing director and/ or chief executive officer, products and services of the organization, history of the organization, latest developments in the organization etc.
  • Being sure of interview details such as time, day, venue etc.
  • Be conversant with current affairs both nationally and internationally
  • Know your hobbies, interests, ambitions and other personal details that may be required.
  • Formulate possible questions in advance and try to answer them
  • Ensure that they are dressed appropriately
  1. Reference & Background Checks:

Reference checks and background checks are conducted to verify the information provided by the candidates. Reference is a brief statement about a candidate made by a third party usually the immediate supervisor. Reference checks are conducted to provide factual information about the candidate’s period of employment and gather opinions regarding candidate’s personal attributes such as honesty creativity etc. These are therefore important in that they encourage the candidate to tell the truth in the application forms and provides a backup in case of genuine attempt by a candidate to mislead prospective employers. Their disadvantages are that most of the referees are biased, applicants provide referees who are likely to favor them and it is costly in terms of time and money. Reference checks can be through formal letters, telephone conversations. However it is merely a formality and selections decisions are seldom affected by it.

  1. Selection Decision:

After obtaining all the information, the most critical step is the selection decision to be made. The final decision has to be made out of applicants who have passed preliminary interviews, tests, final interviews and reference checks. The views of line managers are considered generally because it is the line manager who is responsible for the performance of the new employee.

vii.    Physical / Medical Examination:

After the selection decision is made, the candidate is required to undergo a physical fitness test. A job offer is often contingent upon the candidate passing the physical examination.

viii.    Job Offer:

The next step in selection process is job offer to those applicants who have crossed all the previous hurdles. It is made by way of letter of appointment.

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