13 Effective Employee Selection Methods

employee signing offer letter

Updated November 2023

It’s critical to use effective employee selection methods when you’re looking to fill a position on your team, because hiring the right employees is essential to the success of any business. Conversely, the wrong employees can cost a company time, money, and customers.

This article will discuss 13 of the most common selection methods and how they can help you find the best candidates for your business. If you need further hiring assistance, contact Insight Global today.

What are employee selection methods?

Employee selection methods are simply the avenues you choose to screen and eventually hire employees. The goal of each of these methods is to try to understand a candidate from multiple angles, from their personality to their experience and how they’ll fit within your company.

There are a number of general employee selection methods that you can use when hiring new employees. Some of the most common methods include:

  • Application reviews
  • Phone screenings
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Cognitive ability tests
  • Personality assessments

These are general methods, and we’ll get into more specific types of each of these in a moment. But first, let’s define what each of these employee selection methods are.

Application reviews

These are one of the most common employee selection methods. In this method, you review the applications of all potential candidates and weed out those who are not qualified. This is a time-consuming process in most instances, but it allows you to quickly eliminate those who aren’t a good fit for the position.

More importantly, it offers you a chance to find highly qualified candidates who have the qualifications your company desires.

This method offers some benefits that streamline the hiring process for recruitment teams, including:

  • Efficiency
  • Quality control
  • Discover hidden gems
  • Consistency

Phone screenings

Phone screenings are another common employee selection method. In this method, you call all of the potential candidates and ask them a few questions about their qualifications. This can help you weed out those who are not qualified or do not have the necessary experience before bringing them in for an in-person interview.

Some things you may address in an initial phone screen include:

  • Basic personal information is correct (name, email, age, graduation dates)
  • Past education
  • Talking points about previous experience (what someone did day-to-day, why they’re interested in the field your company is in)

When asking questions about job experience in a phone screen, make sure to keep it brief. In-depth questions can be held for one-on-one interviews.

One-on-one Interviews

In this method, you meet with all of the potential candidates in person and ask them a series of questions about their qualifications and experience. This can be done in-person, virtually, with a group of directors and executives, or done with future co-workers.

Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests give the candidates a test that measures their potential ability to perform tasks required for the position. They are designed to measure a candidate’s intelligence and problem-solving skills and are a good option for businesses that want to measure a candidates’ intellectual abilities and problem-solving skills.

While useful in some cases, cognitive ability tests can sometimes be unfair for a candidate in some cases, and other may find these tests “insulting.”

Personality assessments

Finally, personality assessments sometimes play an important role in determining whether a candidate is the right fit for a specific position and the company. The most well-known and widely used test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which assesses preferences across the following four dimensions of personality:

  • Extraversion vs. introversion
  • Sensing vs. intuition
  • Thinking vs. feeling
  • Judging vs. perceiving

Consider a role that requires proactivity, and you’ll find that someone who is extroverted and thinking-oriented might be the best fit for the position.

Another popular tool is the DISC Assessment, which measures dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. This test may help to assess social behavior in a working environment.

Both assessments can provide hiring managers with insights into candidates’ workplace behavior, helping to simplify hiring decisions.

Why it’s important to choose the right employee selection methods for your company

When you’re looking to fill a position on your team, it’s essential to choose the employee selection method that will be most effective for your company. Most companies don’t just use one employee selection method–they use multiple to get a more well-rounded view of candidates.

It’s also important to consider your company’s budget. Some specific employee selection methods we’ll talk about can be expensive, so you need to make sure that you have the money to invest in them.

By choosing the right employee selection method, you can increase your chances of finding the best suitable candidates for your business. Likewise, by using a combination of employee selection methods, you can find the perfect candidate for your company.

Types of employee selection methods

We discussed the most common employee selection methods in the last section, but those are the most common ones—many of which most companies already use in their hiring process.

Things get more specific, though, as you’re trying to nail down an employee who fits a very specific need, holding very specific traits. Application reviews are nice, but how and where do you collect applications?

Here are 13 types of employee selection methods that can be used to assess candidates.

1. Resume collection: your site vs. job board sites

When it comes to collecting resumes, there are two main options: your own site or job board sites.

Collecting resumes on your site has a few advantages over using job board sites. First, you can collect more information about the candidates than you would be able to get from a resume submitted through a job board. This allows you to better assess their qualifications and determine if they would be a good fit for your company. Additionally, you can control the branding of your site and ensure that candidates see your company as a desirable place to work.

Using job board sites has its advantages, too. The most obvious benefit is that you have access to a larger pool of candidates. Additionally, online job boards may have more sophisticated screening tools than your site does, which can help you weed out unqualified candidates more quickly and identify candidates for an interview.

Sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn offer methods like skill tests, cognitive tests, and situational tests–all of which we’ll talk about soon–as part of their application collection process.

2. Referral recruitment vs. existing talent pool

Employee selection typically comes down to two distinct approaches: leveraging referral recruitment or tapping into your existing talent pool.

Referral recruitment focuses on asking current employees for candidate recommendations, who might be comprised of friends, family, and professional associates. Referrals are appealing because of the employees’ understanding of the company culture and what the given role demands.

Alternately, the existing talent pool consists of resumes you’ve previously collected from applicants and other avenues. The best thing about these candidates is that you have likely already vetted their qualifications. You might discover a noted past runner-up in the mix who is perfect for a current opening.

Either of these methods can expedite the selection process.

3. Internal vs. external employees

When selecting employees for a position within your company, you may battle between hiring internally or searching outside of your organization for someone to fill the role.

Internal employee selection has several advantages over external employee selection. First, you already have a good understanding of their skills and qualifications. This allows you to quickly assess their eligibility for the position and can easily contact references of people who’ve worked with them. However, only looking internally limits your talent pool from which to choose from.

Looking externally on top of internally gives you confidence that you’ve searched the widest talent pool for the position. You may also find that the role needs input from someone who isn’t in the organization (think a breath of fresh air), or no one in the organization has the expertise you need for the role. Insight Global has needed to expand our search to outside of the organization as we continue to try and grow as a company.

There is a time and place for both internal and external employee selection.

4. Boomerang employees

Boomerang employees are former employees who have left your company and later returned. There are several advantages to hiring boomerang employees. First, they already understand your company culture and how things operate. This can make the transition process smoother for both the employee and the company. Additionally, boomerang employees are familiar with your products and services, which can help them hit the ground running.

However, there are also a couple disadvantages. First, a candidate may have left for a reason, like a conflict with a higher up or they weren’t a good fit for their position. Second, they may not be familiar with the latest changes in the company. This can lead to confusion and conflict among employees if the boomerang employee tries to force things to go back to “the old way.”

5. Take-home assignments

Another employee selection method is the take-home assessment. In this method, candidates are given a task to complete at home, and then they submit their results to the company. This can help you determine if they are capable of performing the tasks required for the position.

The take-home assessment can also be used to assess how well the candidates work under pressure of a deadline. It’s also an excellent way to assess the candidates’ writing or technical skills. For example, if you are hiring a copywriter, you can ask them to write a sample blog post for an email. If you’re hiring a digital analytics person, you can ask them to run reports and present them in a deck.

6. Situational tests

Situational tests, sometimes referred to as scenario-based assessments, gauge a candidate’s ability to tackle a diverse range of situations. The pre-employment tests present candidates with specific scenarios, allowing you a prism into their reactions and insights into their skills and temperament to ensure they align with the job description and demands.

Scenario-based assessments are especially helpful when trying to fill roles that frequently feature challenging situations and require specific character traits. Consider someone in a sales position. In this assessment, you can simulate a sales call to reveal how the candidate will behave in real-time. Can they handle rejection? Can they quickly and effectively come up with alternative approaches and persuasive tactics?

7. Evaluating current job knowledge/skills

When evaluating current job knowledge and skills, it’s essential to consider several factors. The most crucial factor is the type of position you are hiring for. If you are hiring for a job requiring specific skills or knowledge, you will need to assess whether the candidate has those qualities.

Another factor to consider is how well the candidate performs their current job duties. If they are not meeting the expectations of their current employer, they may not be a good fit for your company. See if they can provide examples of how they’ve performed in similar positions, or if the position is different than what they’ve done before, have the candidate explain past experience that would help them succeed in the role.

8. Reference checks

Employee reference checks are an essential part of the employee selection process. They allow you to get feedback from previous employers about the candidate’s skills, qualifications, and job performance. Reference checks can also help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your company culture.

Most companies will only provide positive references for candidates who have left their company on good terms. This can make it difficult to get an accurate picture of the candidate’s skills and qualifications. However, there are a few things you can do to get around this:

  • Ask the candidate for a list of their previous employers
  • Contact the candidates’ references directly
  • Ask the candidate to provide contact information for their previous supervisors

If you contact the candidates’ references directly, you will be able to ask them questions about the candidate’s job performance and skills. This can help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your company. Additionally, if the reference provides negative feedback about the candidate, you can run this by the candidate and have them talk through whatever the issues were.

Five people sit around a table in a group interview setting.

9. Group interviews

Group interviews involve talking to multiple candidates in one session. This method provides interviews with a unique lens to evaluate candidate interactions. It can also provide insights into teamwork capabilities.

By observing everyone’s group dynamics, interviewers get to know more about each candidate’s individual skills and collaborative spirit.

Simultaneously, group setups present limitations. It’s more challenging to conduct individual assessments since they can be overshadowed by fellow candidates. Further, the environment might stress some candidates, which might negatively impact their performance. And it’s difficult for you to focus on each participant and their unique qualities, leaving you with an incomplete evaluation.

You can maximize the effectiveness of group interviews with the following tactics:

  • Ask the right questions that ensure everyone gets a chance to answer all the questions.
  • Provide opportunities for group members to interact as organically as possible.
  • Include current employees and future teammates in the process to see how each candidate might interact and collaborate once hired.

10. Hard Skill Assessments

Situational tests and take-home assignments are good ways to get examples of how a candidate makes and produces work. Skill assessments offer tangible measures of a candidate’s specific hard skills.

Some of the best hard skill evaluations include:

  • Typing speed and accuracy tests
  • Grammar quizzes
  • Proofreading exercises
  • Coding evaluations
  • UX design evaluations
  • Medical claims coding tests

Remember to test only for skills that are essential for the candidate to perform the role.

11. Virtual interviews

The first part of the interview process likely involves some level of interviews, and a virtual interview is a great way to assess candidates’ skills and qualifications without having to meet them in person. Some advantages of virtual interviews include:

  • It allows you to interview more candidates quicker
  • It gives candidates a more flexible schedule of when they can meet. Virtual interviews help them fit in an interview in a tighter time than an in-person interview
  • Allows you to assess their communication skills and professionalism in a growing remote workplace

If you need tips on question to ask in a virtual setting, check out some tips and examples here.

The disadvantage of virtual interviews is that you cannot assess their personality or see how they would interact with other employees in-person. Additionally, candidates may feel uncomfortable answering questions in a virtual environment if they’re not used to that sort of scenario.

12. Internships

Another great way to evaluate potential employees is through internships. Internships allow you to assess a candidate’s skills and abilities in the work setting. It gives you a better understanding of how they will perform on the job by giving them a chance to perform some of the duties they might perform with a full-time role. Additionally, internships provide an opportunity for candidates to learn about your company and assess whether or not they are a good fit for the position.

The best way to evaluate potential employees through internships is by setting clear expectations and goals for the internship. This helps you determine if the candidate is capable of meeting your company’s standards, if they can work within a team, and see how they work toward their goals. Additionally, be sure to provide feedback to the candidate throughout the internship. This will help them improve their skills and understand what you are looking for in a potential employee.

13. Background checks

One of the most common pre-employment selection methods is conducting a background check. A background check can help you get a sense of an applicant’s criminal history, education, and work experience. It’s important to remember that not all information included in a background check is accurate, so you’ll want to take any findings with a grain of salt. However, a background check can be a helpful tool in determining whether or not an applicant is a good fit for your business.

One thing to keep in mind when conducting a background check is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires employers to get written consent from applicants before running a background check. It also requires employers to give applicants a copy of the report and to inform them of their right to dispute any inaccurate information.


When it comes to employee selection, if you’re looking to fill a position on your team, be sure to use one or more of these methods to find the best possible candidates. Each of these methods has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to weigh your options before making a decision.

The most important thing is finding employees who are a good fit for your company culture and have the skills and qualifications needed to do the job.

If you need help filling open positions, check out the Insight Global hiring page, and we’ll instantly connect you with top talent!

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.