There are two documents that are associated with effective recruiting. While they are referred to by many names, I call the first one the “Job Bulletin,” and I call the second one the “Job Announcement.” The distinction I make is that the first one is short and merely covers the basics like the name of the organization, position tile, starting salary, dates for recruiting, and how and where to apply. The second — the job announcement — is sufficiently detailed to provide all the information candidates need to know to help them be successful in the entire process. That being the case, this document is, out of necessity, much longer.
Just like the other steps we have covered in the recruiting process, there is a significant amount of background work that must be done to lay the foundation for preparing these documents. Each time you prepare for a recruitment it is essential that you evaluate your selection plan. Your recruiting efforts will benefit from the efforts that you make to ensure that your plan is as streamlined as possible and that gaps between administering each step in the selection process have been minimized. This is particularly critical when working with candidates who are coming to your location from out-of-town.
It is common for agencies to utilize the least labor intensive selection instruments, usually a written exam, first in the process. This works well for both the candidates and the agency. It is usually best for scoring to be done in real-time if possible and candidates should be notified on the spot as to whether or not they passed or failed. Those that are successful on the test can then be scheduled for the second hurdle and those that failed know they will not need to spend any more time and money waiting for their results and staying available for the next step.
The next step in the process should be the administration of the second least labor intensive instrument. Typically this will be a physical agility or physical fitness exam and ideally should be scheduled for the same day as the written or no more than the day after. Since candidates are typically tested in groups, this exam is less labor intensive than oral board exams or background interviews which should be scheduled later in the process when the applicant pool has been reduced by the first two procedures. To speed candidates through the fitness test, you may want to consider having more than one team to administer the exam and similar to the written exam, you should be prepared to schedule successful candidates for the next step in the process as they complete the fitness test.
The step after the fitness test is usually the oral board, which is typically followed by the initial background interview. The oral exam should be administered by as many panels as necessary to continue to move candidates through the entire process as quickly as possible. Oral board panels usually consist of one to five job knowledge experts and we have discussed in previous articles how to check for and adjust differences in the way boards score the candidates.
Some agencies with the capacity to accept applications online have successfully used pre-screening questions to eliminate candidates that have issues that could disqualify them from further consideration. Other agencies have hard copy screening devices that are submitted with a hard copy application which is used to determine whether or not an applicant is eligible to participate in the selection process and take the written exam as the first step. However; if such a pre-screening device has not been utilized prior to actually accepting applications and admitting individuals into the selection process, it can be inserted as part of the initial background interview. Applicants who have passed the written exam, the physical fitness testing and the oral exam, which again is best to be scored in real-time, which is as soon as a candidate is finished with the oral, should be given a basic background questionnaire. The questionnaire should focus on eliciting information that would subject a candidate to immediate disqualification such as having a felony record or being under twenty-one. This questionnaire should be completed before the candidate sees the background investigator so that the information can be discussed on the initial interview. Once the background investigator has determined that a candidate is eligible to continue in the process, the candidate should be given the full background questionnaire and scheduled for the next step in the selection process.
Due to concerns regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) many jurisdictions have determined that this is the appropriate point to make conditional offers. Administering other parts of the selection process like the psychological exam, medical exam, and full background investigation prior to a conditional offer may be considered a violation of the ADA and could be construed as discriminating on an illegal basis since information gained through these processes could reveal candidates’ disabilities. Once a conditional offer has been made, it is safer to continue with these other parts in the process since any disability related information that is obtained can be evaluated in light of a candidate’s over all suitability for the job. Disqualifying candidates as the result of information gained from these three sources should be based on a clear link between the issues uncovered and the ability or suitability to perform the job.
In summary, before an agency announces the beginning of a recruitment period, it is important to tighten up the selection process and eliminate unnecessary delays and artificial barriers that may cause candidates to self select out of the process. In essence, failure to have a compressed time frame for completing the process and implementing a process that requires candidates to make multiple trips to your location can sabotage your recruitment before it is begun. I have heard people with old school thinking express the thought that says, “If they want the job they’ll do whatever it takes to be here.” Unfortunately, that does not take into consideration that wise job applicants, particularly those interested in public safety jobs, typically apply with numerous agencies and often do not live within the jurisdiction of any of the agencies to which they have applied. Accommodating out-of-town applicants even if it means setting a separate schedule for them that is more condensed than it is for locals can only enhance your recruiting efforts and thus improve your bottom line.
Once you have your process as clear and clean as you can get it, you are ready to prepare your job bulletin and job announcement. Then, once you have opened your recruitment you are in a position to use your time to train all the professionals you will need to proctor your exams, administer the physical agility/fitness test, and conduct your oral boards.
Next we will examine the preparation of your job bulletin and announcement as well as the inclusion of training and practice sessions for your applicant pool.