Candidates Take the Biscuit

In 1999 the makers of the Jaffa Cake decided that you could select a suitable job applicant from the choice of biscuit they made when the plate was put in front of them during an interview. Apparently the smashing orangey cake is the choice of creative and innovative individuals wanting to work for firms that have shed their stuffy ways. What character traits other biscuits represent McVities do not say but I suppose if you are looking for a bar manager a Bourbon eater might be a good bet while a Garibaldi lover is unlikely to succeed in the hairdressing trade, anyone choosing a Jammy Dodger is probably best rejected!

Whilst not so much fun, it is now recognised that there are more objective and credible ways to select a suitable candidate. However any selection method is only valid if the employer understands the role and type of person they are recruiting for. Unfortunately a number of employers fail to realise the importance of this part of the process or how best to conduct it, which frequently leads to a poor recruit often damaging for the employer, the new employee and existing employees. Employees unsuitable for a role suffer from job dis-satisfaction which can lead to anxiety, pressure and ultimately stress. The employer gets an employee who is either unsettled and unhappy, whether they be a under or over performer, or just someone who does not enjoy the work or company culture. All these issues have a detrimental effect on other members of staff resulting in low morale, high turnover and increased recruitment and productivity costs.

Selectors should always start by deciding what they are looking for. Traditional Human Resource (HR) practice recommends that you conduct a job analysis leading to a Job Description and a Person Specification. While there is some discussion on the value of these in the long term, unless they are kept up to date, there is no disputing the fact that they provide additional information for the candidate to judge whether the job is both suitable and of interest to them. The Job Description and Person Specification also provide an objective, thought through measure for the selector to assess the candidate against and in many instances are used to determine the selection method used to recruit i.e. asking the candidate to conduct a presentation if you need a good communicator or leader.

Job Descriptions commonly start with the job's official title and then say how the job fits into the organisation before listing the job's main duties. Those writing a Job Description must be able to separate duties that are important or unimportant, routinely easy or very difficult. Secondly they must prevent themselves lapsing into a vague sub-literate 'managementspeak' that we are all so good at using.


Person Specifications can have a tendency to list all the personality description words selectors can think of and overlook those specifics that are critical for a candidate to demonstrate. It is also amusing to read so many Person Specifications that stipulate applicants must be well motivated and energetic – as if any employer is likely to want an idle, unmotivated employee much less any applicant describe themselves as such!

An organisations competitive advantage is chiefly gained through the performance of its employees. Recruiting, selecting and retaining the appropriate workforce is key to this and the starting point for any employer should be knowing the role and type of individual they wish to recruit.

If you are interested in learning more about Performance Appraisals, any element of Performance Management or any other aspects of employment then please call ABHR on 0115 9743519 for your free no-obligation consultation or visit our website for further details.