Selection Methods - Human Resources - Newcastle University

4. Selection Methods


All applicants must be interviewed prior to appointment. Where practicable interviews should take place in person.

Visits and informal discussions

Visits and informal discussions, if offered, should be made available to all shortlisted applicants.


Presentations, which have been prepared in advance, can be an excellent means of evaluating a candidate’s ideas or grasp of a subject, in addition to assessing their presentation and verbal communication skills.

Work samples

Applicants may be asked to present a verified portfolio or examples of personal work.

Case studies

submitted by applicants prior to interview can demonstrate depth of knowledge on a given subject and give an indication of written communication skills.

Case studies completed as a supervised assignment

Where specific skills or knowledge are to be measured, and psychometric testing is considered inappropriate, it can be useful to give candidates supervised case studies or work samples.


Simulation exercises are usually based on the tasks candidates may expect to meet when performing the job for which they have applied.

Group exercises

Group exercises are useful not only to assess the candidates’ ability to argue rationally and adopt a logical approach to a problem, but also to provide information on how the candidate is likely to perform in a group.

There are several equal opportunities issues to consider:

  • The possible inhibiting influence of being, for example, the only woman or black person, or person with a disability, in the group.
  • The suitability of the issue under discussion for all the candidates. This is covered by careful design of the exercise.
  • The ability of the observers or assessors to judge the candidates against objective and relevant criteria without allowing their own bias and stereotypes to influence their judgements.
  • A candidate with a disability such as a hearing or speech impairment or someone who speaks English as a second language may not be able to interact as easily under pressure in a group environment.

Psychometric testing

There are two main forms of psychometric test:

  • Ability tests, which are useful for measuring specific skills or talents which cannot easily be measured in the interview situation, such as spatial ability, or numerical ability.
  • Personality questionnaires, which are essentially ‘self report’ measures of candidates’ characteristics.

Candidates should be assessed against an ideal candidate profile which has been drawn up in advance from the person specification.

Assessment centres

An ‘assessment centre’ is not a place but a method. The assessment centre technique involves drawing together a number of the assessment methods mentioned in this section to provide a full and comprehensive assessment of a candidate. The multiple assessment procedure may last from half a day to two days for up to around twelve candidates, and will be designed to measure the candidates’ suitability against the person specification.