Standardise the preselection and selection process
Transparent and objective processes lead to equal opportunities.
To remove distracting and irrelevant characteristics from the selection process, you could experiment with anonymous selection.
State in the job vacancy text that applicants are asked to submit two documents: one normal CV and one CV from which all personal data has been removed (e.g. name, surname, age, nationality, place of residence). In order to prevent the age from being ascertained from other information, you could ask the candidate not to mention the years of training and ask them for the most relevant work experience. To avoid applicants revealing their nationality or migration background, you can ask them about their level of English and Dutch language skills (unless knowledge of other languages is explicitly required for the job). Once the list of candidates has been compiled (Tip 7), include the omitted information to check whether there is sufficient diversity among the candidates.
Be open and thoughtful
Ensure and nurture open communication and an open atmosphere within the committee. In this context, we recommend that members:
- check that they do not have a favourite candidate in advance;
- are open to suggestions and input of other members of the selection committee and/or the HR advisor;
- ensure that the recruitment strategy provides for a good degree of (visible and invisible) diversity among applicants and that this is also the case during the preselection and selection process;
- are aware that everyone is unconsciously biased and that this should be discussed in an open and friendly manner.
Take joint responsibility for diversity in decision-making processes
The selection committee has a joint responsibility to ensure that diversity of perspectives is carefully considered in the decision-making process. The vacancy holder appoints one of the members of the selection committee in each selection round to monitor the importance of joint responsibility and to prevent (unintentional) bias from having an impact by asking critical questions at every step of the process (neutral fly-on-the-wall).
Have structured conversations
Conduct structured interviews, using the STARR method (S=Situation, T=Task, A=Action, R=Result, R=Reflection), so that each candidate:
- has the same amount of time (per question);
- is asked the same open questions;
- is assessed in the same objective manner.
For example, to assess a particular competence task, you can ask the candidate to describe a situation in which this competence was needed and to explain what that situation was, what the candidate had to do, how they did it, what the result was and what they learned from it.
- Decide which competences you want to test and prioritise them to prevent them from being changed unnoticed
- Determine a (limited) number of questions in advance
- Stick to those questions during the application and do not deviate
- First assess the candidate individually using a fixed score form
- Only then discuss the verdict in the group
- Ask the most junior person for an initial verdict
- Ensure a neutral fly-on-the-wall who can question your bias
- Ask the most junior person for an initial verdict
Hanteer objectieve i.p.v. subjectieve criteria
Objective selection criteria are hard job requirements. They are transparent and leave little room for unconscious bias. Examples are a minimum number of years of work experience and managerial duties. Subjective (soft) job requirements, such as a strong (leadership) vision, organisational qualities, creativity, a high level of ambition and an excellent (international) reputation, are flexible and context-dependent. Their interpretation is therefore less objective and unconscious bias may play a greater role. When compiling the list of potentially suitable candidates, try to use objective rather than subjective criteria.
Do not ask ‘forbidden’ questions
It is not permitted to ask questions relating to the following: personal questions about the family, family planning and pregnancy; sexual orientation; nationality; financial status; criminal history (unless this is public); trade union membership*; health or absenteeism* (you may ask general questions about resilience, for example how someone deals with stress or setbacks or how someone maintains a good work-life balance); religion and political belief*.
* Unless essential to the position. Try to ask yourself (and the other interviewers) questions like: is this question relevant to assess the candidate as a professional? How will I use this information when arriving at a verdict?
Use scores when selecting CVs and conducting interviews
Refer to the preselection form (download) for a structural analysis of CVs and cover letters in the preselection phase. In the selection phase, the assessment of each candidate per competency/job requirement is recorded on the interview form (download). The assessment forms the basis for an objective comparison of candidates. This form can also be used to give the applicant insight into the decisions and to evaluate and reflect on the selection process.
In order to assess candidates objectively, you can carry out a check before and after the interview:
- before the interview: make a list of everything you are looking for in the candidate;
- after the interview: give the interviews scores and check whether you have judged on facts and not on intuition.
Consider the use of test assignments as part of the selection process
Test assignments are used to measure the skills required for the job. As such, they have good predictive value. For example, you can ask candidates to write a policy proposal if the vacancy relates to policy advice.
Negotiating an employment contract
Involve your HR advisor in determining the job offer to ensure that it is consistent with other similar positions within the institute. This HR official can advise on salary determination based on the University Job Categories (UFO) system. The HR advisor can also be of assistance during interviews when the employment contract is being negotiated.
Tips for the preselection and selection process.
Tips for the preselection and selection process
Be aware of the potential role of gender in the way people present themselves. Women are generally more inclined to refer to successes as a group achievement while men take individual credit for them. The actual process of achieving success may be no different. It is only described differently. Men generally have less difficulty in bringing their ambition to the fore; women are generally more modest. Research shows that gender and cultural background can influence the extent to which a person negotiates salary conditions. As a vacancy holder, you should not let this influence you. Decide on salary conditions in advance on the basis of comparable positions within the institute and do not give in because of the negotiating style.
The route to the highest qualification does not have to be direct and does not make the candidate any less suitable for the job. A person's search for the ‘right’ career is sometimes a winding rather than a straight road. The length of training required to obtain a certain degree or diploma is not the only indication. Sometimes people have to support and contribute financially to family or relatives during their studies. ‘Collecting diplomas’ (e.g. prevocational secondary>senior general secondary>preuniversity>university education) shows great motivation and perseverance. Our ways of learning and preferences for learning change over time and are perhaps reflected in the process by which we obtain different diplomas. We also know from research that young people with a migrant background are given a lower school recommendation than they should, based on their abilities. If you find this in a candidate's CV, it may say more about the system than about the person. Looking at work experience, some candidates seem to have worked below their educational level. A discrepancy between education and work level says something about work motivation (every job has growth opportunities) and not so much about ambitions. It may also show that the applicant finds it difficult to find the ‘right’ job.
Take into account intercultural differences. Examples of intercultural differences are the communication and preferred way of working of people from a ‘we culture’ and people from an ‘I culture’. There are cultural differences in terms of power distance and someone's attitude to hierarchy. Also note that modesty is very important in some cultures. Take these intercultural aspects into account when evaluating the interview.
Persons with an occupational impairment
For tips on recruiting people with an occupational impairment, we recommend you contact the Diversity & Inclusion Advisor. Not all impairments are visible and you may not ask the candidates about them. Instead, you can ask whether the person needs certain facilities to be able to perform the job successfully, but do not make it a decisive factor in deciding whether to offer someone a job. In addition, the length of a person's studies says nothing about their intelligence or motivation. People with an occupational impairment sometimes experience obstacles during their studies, which can lead to study delays.
Different generations may have different preferences for organising work. Be open to this. A wish for part-time work does not relate to a person's motivation or ambition, but says something about the way candidates want to combine their work with their private life. Different generations may also prefer different work cultures. During the interview, describe the working atmosphere and organisational culture of the institute.
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