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Myths about recruitment and selection

A vacant position can only be filled at the same level and with the same role

False. Thorough workforce planning includes analysing the position to ensure it meets the correct level, skills and capabilities to satisfy the organisation’s needs. A vacant position can have a different level, skill-set and capability requirement to the role it is ‘replacing’.

A position must be advertised to make sure the agency is not accused of running an unfair process

False. Although attracting a diverse and skilled workforce is generally supported by advertising vacancies to the open market, there are occasions where vacancies are not required to be advertised, for example where they are:

  • for entry level roles
  • to be filled for a period of less than 12 months
  • to be filled via transfer, redeployment or secondment at or below level
  • to be filled using an order of merit for a recurring vacancy
  • for a casual role
  • where what is commonly known as ‘direct appointment’ occurs (where the chief executive exempts a vacancy from advertising or elects to limit the advertising where they consider there is justification for doing so).

Members of the selection panel can contact people directly and invite them to apply

True. Panel members can encourage an individual to apply for a particular role.

However, the panel must genuinely attempt to create a viable field of applicants and advise potential applicants they will be competing in a merit based selection process.

Panel members are to consider their role in the process and whether contacting some applicants directly would create a perception of a conflict of interest.

An application cannot be considered if the applicant does not include responses to all the key capabilities (selection criteria)

False. This is at the discretion of the panel. The panel could consider that the applicant has not responded because they are not able to.

However, good practice would mean the panel also considers the experience and work history of the candidate through a thorough analysis of their résumé. There must be sufficient evidence to ensure a fair and proper short-listing decision. The panel can ask an applicant to supply additional (relevant) information at any stage of the recruitment and selection process.

The interview questions must be designed to cover all key capabilities (selection criteria)

False. It may not be necessary to cover all key capabilities (selection criteria) at interview. The selection process is to be structured to ensure the panel gets a comprehensive understanding of each applicant’s skills, knowledge and ability to do the job. This could include work sample tests, presentations etc.

The panel must ask all applicants the same questions at the interview

False. There is no rule that every person being interviewed must be asked exactly the same questions. The panel can ask additional questions to gain further information or to clarify an applicant’s response. The interview should be a conversation with the person to help identify why they would, or would not be the best fit for the job. Interviews should be treated as an exchange of information, not as a test to see who responds best on the day.

All internal applicants must be interviewed

False. There is no requirement to automatically grant an interview to an internal applicant. The short-listing process should determine the candidates the panel anticipates could meet the key capabilities (selection criteria). Interviewing an internal candidate for ‘development purposes’ is contrary to the PSA and recruitment and selection directive because of the merit principle.