Why use a scribe in selection processes?
A scribe’s usual role in selection is to support the selection panel chair through taking detailed notes during the selection process and preparing the final selection report. Typically, a scribe is not a member of the panel and does not participate in decision-making. They will not usually participate in questioning the candidate except in procedural matters (eg clarifying referee details).
When a scribe is contracted to take notes and prepare the report, the panel chair is relieved of these tasks which are often time-consuming and may interfere with their effective engagement in the interview. It should be noted however, that the panel, and especially the chair, are still accountable for ensuring that the process has been carried out properly.
The Added Value of a Scribe with a Professional HR Background
A scribe with a professional HR background in recruitment and selection can add more value and take a further load off the panel chair and members by providing any or all of these services:
1. Conducting initial shortlisting of candidates.
Especially with large candidate pools, experienced scribes can apply the selection panel’s shortlisting assessment framework to cull the field to a smaller, more manageable number for the panel to consider in more detail. They will provide appropriate comments or ratings to support their recommendation. In order to do this effectively, the scribe needs to be fully briefed by the panel chair on the critical merit criteria and the “go/no-go” requirements of the position. It is still the responsibility of the selection panel to review the shortlisting and ensure they are satisfied with the outcomes.
2. Developing appropriate selection techniques.
Rather than always using an interview as the only means of gathering information, there are other valid and targeted techniques that may provide direct information about capability. These techniques include work tests, work samples, job knowledge tests and aptitude tests. An experienced scribe can advise on and develop relevant and valid techniques to match the job requirements.
3. Drawing up interview questions and benchmarks.
Designing interview questions that address the merit criteria as well as explore the strengths and weaknesses of candidates is challenging. Experienced scribes can draw on a wealth of knowledge and good practice to provide both questions and benchmarks that target the role requirements and the critical job behaviours.
4. Facilitating consistent panel evaluation.
Experienced scribes can reflect back to selection panel members the substance of a candidate’s responses and ask questions to help the selection panel review their decision-making process. This objective, “arm’s length” questioning, conducted with all the selection panel present,, can facilitate the selection panel checking on the validity and appropriateness of their considerations in an collegiate environment to assure that the candidate is being assessed fairly. It can also help selection panels avoid appeals that arise through deficiencies in the selection process.
5. Gathering and reporting on referee comments.
Referee reports are an important tool to validate the panel’s assessment and, ideally, should involve asking the referees targeted questions to clarify or validate information that the panel has gathered through the selection process. This can be another time-consuming process when conducted properly and experienced scribes can interrogate referees to address specific issues about a candidate’s performance and then record and verify the responses for the panel’s further consideration.
6. Participating as a panel member.
Often panel chairs build on-going trusting relationships with their scribes over a number of selections and a high level of trust and credibility is established. In these instances scribes are often invited to become full panel members and share the decision-making process equally with other members while still carrying out the recording and reporting functions.
7. Providing candidate feedback.
If shortlisting has been conducted by the scribe or if the scribe is a full panel member then they may take on the task of providing feedback to candidates on their application or on their interview performance if it is requested.
The extended role of a scribe is only possible when the panel chair has confidence that the scribe has the appropriate level of skills, knowledge and ability to carry out these functions. This advanced capability is usually demonstrated through working with a range of selection panels and building credibility and a reputation for providing the highest level of professional service.