Staff selection – a disappointment for both candidates and employers!

Written by: Slobodan Jović, psychologist.

According to latest studies, the first impression in made in 3 to 7 seconds. It takes that much time for some employers to decide whether to hire you or not. The remaining 20 minutes of the conversation is for confirming the first impression! This is the reason we insist on testing!

Prompted by many questions sent to I will try to see this, in many aspects strenuous and painful (for the candidates) and demanding and expensive (for the employers) process from two perspectives (one of a psychologist who is doing the staff selection, but also of a candidate in the selection process).

Further on, based on my expert experience in candidate selection, I will try to explain to the candidates – competitors, how and why we choose certain candidates, and others not.

Namely, lately I have been getting a lot of e-mails from people who feel bad because they went through a couple of selection processes (or just testing) in smaller companies, but also in bigger ones in Croatia and who want to know what to do so that the same thing doesn’t happen again, so, to take the test, fail it, expect the answer they never get and feel bad again.

A question arises: why am I answering candidates that were tested by someone else? Well, here are a couple of answers:

  1. As a psychologist I am becoming more and more aware that young people, after going through numerous selection processes, have their self-confidence shattered and they don’t believe in their own abilities and the need for help from an expert or support is often emphasized.
  2. As a person or a candidate in the selection process, I know how I felt (in that role) and I didn’t look for an answer because I was angry, afraid, sad, vain or something else.
  3. As an entrepreneur/expert who is thinking about his work in the future I know it is important to answer every inquiry and show respect to people who are trying to find an answer, but not succeeding in it.

Questions we received at are as follows:

  1. How can I get selection tests and other variations on this question, for example
    • Could you, please, send me the tests on the following address …
    • I’m working on my MA thesis, so I would kindly ask you to send me all the tests …
    • Send me the tests, I will pay for them …
  2. How is it possible they did not send me the results of the tests?
  3. Is it possible they use these kinds of tests for this position?
  4. They didn’t give me anything to sign, how will I know where my results are going?
  5. Why aren’t they telling me anything?
  6. I’m sick of everything, I keep getting rejection letters and I feel bad, what am I suppose to do?
  7. Could you send me a test or a questionnaire so I could select a good candidate for a school psychologist position?
  8. Do you have some tests on which I can practice, I need it for work?
  9. If I failed the test, what does that mean? That I’m not very intelligent?
  10. Dear Sir, can I order the tests for a certain work? Also, I am also interested in the technique of conducting the tests and analyzing results.
  11. I have a degree from Law school and I applied for a job of a legal assistant in a company. I am interested in what type of test are conducted at such occasions, I heard they are personality tests and IQ tests, but I want to know something more about this.

In the previously listed questions we can see insecurity, uncertainty, need for control, fear of failure, hopelessness, sadness and disappointment. I answered all of these questions, sometimes even with a long e-mail, but usually like this:

  • I apologized because I am obliged by law to keep the tests a secret,
  • Alongside support because of disappointment or sadness I recommended some sort of counseling,
  • I expressed my support to colleagues who did the test and explained the procedure,
  • I expressed my support for the candidates because of the medieval selection methods they (unfortunately) participated in …

I would like to use this opportunity to ask other HR experts who are taking part in the selection processes, to use their answers to help candidates who are feeling confused and sad and don’t trust themselves, because this sometimes leads to depression!

You have to know the following on selecting the candidates:

  1. According to latest studies, the first impression in made in 3 to 7 seconds. It takes that much time for some employers to decide whether to hire you or not. The remaining 20 minutes of the conversation is for confirming the first impression! This is the reason we insist on testing!
  2. Every day I test from ten to twenty people. And every day there are times when I make a mistake in assessing the abilities of certain people. And I believe I am one of the best people in my line of business! This is the reason I find funny employers who believe they can assess the intelligence (for example, of their candidates) who make mistakes according to their assessments. And you think you’re not smart enough?
  3. A great number of employers finished the interview in 2 to 3 minutes, because they don’t know what to ask their candidates or they don’t know how to conduct an interview! Not because they competently assessed that you are not fit for the job position! Sometimes all the employers know is that they need a good worker, but the often don’t know how to define one!
  4. A large number of employers finish the interview in 2 to 3 minutes, because they have extremely conservative or rigid attitudes or beliefs.
    For example, one of the employers automatically dismissed all the candidates whose CVs were not aligned, because for him this was a reflection of the candidates’ untidiness! One of employers dismissed female candidates with long finger nails and other male candidates with long hair!
  5. Most of the employers select the candidates based on their own preferences – having nothing to do with professional assessments, but rather with personal experiences and defined patterns of people they knew in life… So, what often happens is that you get dismissed because (unconsciously) in you they recognize a person they had unpleasant experiences with or they don’t trust.
  6. Sometimes employers ask pointless questions having nothing to do with a quality assessments and the candidates believe there is something important in this! Catch 22?!
  7. There was a case when was hired in order to cover up (political) connections in the employment. Unfortunately, we only found out about this after doing our job and recommending the most suitable candidates, who, of course, were not accepted! A bad feeling.
  8. Sometimes genius people (both intelligent and with amazing personality traits) apply for the job, but they are completely not motivated for the job they applied for. They want this position because they believe they can overcome the current state of affairs, while they actually want something better/more. This can be easily spotted. And every time a contract is terminated (no matter who initiated it) the employer loses money, so we cannot play with it… we have to be serious. – both parties have to!
  9. Sometimes genius people (both intelligent and with amazing personality traits) apply for the job, but they are not prepared for the interview at all. It is very important to get all the information on the company and work place, to know how to present yourself – both verbally and nonverbally. …
  10. Sometimes people who are perfect in every way apply for the job, but they don’t know how to use the computer and the Internet! Even in this day and age? Yes.
  11. Sometimes quality people apply for the job, but they are simply not fit for that specific position. I know that later they are mad, sad, they regret and complain, but that decisions was made for their own good, which probably sounds completely absurd to them while they are reading the rejection letter!

For example, one extremely extraverted candidate (person focused onto company and who easily approaches people he doesn’t know, a person who likes to be the centre of attention) applied for a position where he would have to spend 10 days in the office, with a huge stack of files, alone! But he was extremely intelligent!

How explain to such a man that he cannot get the job – but that he should be persistent and that he will find a suitable workplace!? How would you explain to a person who is nice and smart that he would simply burn out at a job without people who are extremely important to him (because of his personality)? How to explain this? Because, whatever you say to them the seed of doubt remains, not trusting your own abilities remains, sadness, disappointment…

Take me as an example, I (at the beginning of my career) was angry and sad, I even sent a complaint to one company where a person got the job because of connections, and now, after a lot of time, I am grateful I didn’t get that job! By the way, a colleague who is working there is burning out on the job, talks about mobbing, sick competition within the company and so on.

I had a similar experience with two other job positions I applied for and got into the inner circle and now I am happy I didn’t get the job, because of the life I had, the job I created and which I enjoy and in which I thrive. Or to put it simply: „Every cloud has a silver lining…“

At the end of this post, if you are unemployed, with all my heart I wish that you quickly find a good job in which your potential will be set free, which will make you happy and in which you will thrive professionally.