Selecting a candidate

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When an employer decides to recruit a new employee, his objective is to select the person among all the candidates who best fits the profile.

In this regard, the employer can use different tools and methods in order to:

  • evaluate the skills and abilities of the candidates;
  • verify their reliability.

In certain cases, the employer may decide to call upon the services of specialised recruitment agencies which will assist him in his search for the suitable candidate.


Preliminary steps

Before selecting a candidate, the employer must have:

  • identified the vacancies so as to draw up a description of the job/position stating the necessary criteria for filling the position successfully (e.g.: diplomas, experience, technical and behavioural skills, etc.);
  • decided on the recruitment process;
  • declared the vacant position to the National Employment Agency (Agence pour le développement de l'emploi - ADEM).
  • informed his workers with a fixed-term contract about the vacant position provided the vacant position is for a permanent employment contract.

How to proceed


First, the employer analyses the candidates' application letters and curricula vitae and makes a preselection of candidates. The objective of this analysis, prior to the interview, is to ensure that the candidate has the necessary prerequisites required to fill the position.

The application letter should allow the employer to evaluate the motivations of the candidate (for example, the candidate's interest in the business, his ambitions, etc). Employers must also analyse the curriculum vitae, taking into consideration the following information:

  • the candidate's diploma;
  • the number of years of experience in the relevant field;
  • the skills developed;
  • the technical knowledge acquired (IT, etc.);
  • the language skills.

Employers should be able to match these elements to the requirements of the position.

Based on this analysis, the employer draws up a shortlist of candidates and continues the procedure with the shortlisted candidates, whom he invites for an interview.

He should inform the other candidates that they are not under consideration for the position and offer (if applicable) to keep their CV on file for a subsequent recruitment.

Job interview

At this stage, the employer meets the preselected candidates for an interview to get to know and evaluate them in person. The evaluation may take different forms such as a job interview or in the form a selection test.

The objective of the job interview is to encourage a real exchange between the employer and the candidate and to assess the latter's qualities and skills in view of the vacancy.

Beforehand, the employer must therefore:

  • prepare for the meeting by analysing the candidate's CV and the requirements of the position;
  • choose a calm environment, suitable for discussion and exchange of ideas, in order to encourage a constructive and informative dialogue.

During the interview, the employer may use different techniques, such as:

  • a chronological interview, where the employer questions the candidate by retracing the main stages of the candidate's career in chronological order based on the CV;
  • a skills-based interview, during which the employer, based on questions regarding real-life situations, evaluates whether the candidate has the key skills necessary for the position.

Whichever technique is used, the interview must help:

  • verify whether the candidate masters the skills deemed necessary to fill the position;
  • gather additional information on the candidate's:
    • previous professional experience and responsibilities undertaken;
    • medium- and long-term professional career;
    • academic career (completed and/or in progress);
    • motivation for the position, the company, the sector of activity;
    • salary expectations;
    • availability (notice to give to his current employer).

An employer must avoid asking questions (risk of prosecution) on the following subjects:

  • age;
  • sexuality and marital situation;
  • membership in a unionist or mutualist scheme;
  • political opinions;
  • religious convictions;
  • state of health;
  • racial or ethnic origins.

Moreover, the employer must give the candidate the opportunity to ask questions about the business and the position to be filled.

After the interview, the employer and candidate may agree upon the next stages of recruitment (additional interview, tests, decision deadline, additional documents to be provided, etc.).

Tests and assessment

The employer may refine his choice by subjecting the candidates to different types of tests. The most common tests used are:

  • personality tests;
  • numerical reasoning tests (generally, multiple choice questions on calculation and mathematical problems);
  • verbal reasoning tests (to test analytical and reasoning faculties as well as linguistic abilities in the language in which they were drawn up);
  • competency tests (on the candidates' technical competence);
  • graphology tests, etc.

An employer may also organise 'assessment centres'. An assessment centre combines exercises and tests (individual or collective) such as role play, presentation exercises, group discussions, etc. The candidate is placed in a work-based situation in order to objectively analyse his reaction to a particular situation.


Before promising to recruit or offering a job, the employer may request from the candidate/employee (up until the end of the trial period) certain documents, if these are directly associated to and necessary for the job offered or in relation to the professional abilities of the candidate, such as:

  • a recent extract of the criminal record, if required for the position;
  • a certified copy of the identity card or passport;
  • a copy of the diplomas (certified, if necessary), etc.

The employer may also ask the candidate to indicate reference persons that he can contact, subject to the candidate's approval, in order to double-check whether the details regarding the candidate's professional career are accurate.

An employer may not, under any circumstance, request or reveal information about an employee without his prior approval.

When their personal data is collected, the candidates must be informed:

  • of the identity of the person responsible for processing the data and, if applicable, their representative (e.g.: recruitment agency X; Human Resources Department of business Y);
  • of the purpose(s) of the data processing (e.g.: management of candidacies);
  • of the compulsory or optional nature of responses (e.g.: gathering information on leisure activities is optional);
  • of the consequences if they fail to reply;
  • of the recipients of the information, whether natural or legal persons (e.g.: other recruitment agencies);
  • of the conditions for exercising their right to access and amend the data, as well as their right of opposition (e.g.: name of the department to contact if they want to exercise these rights).

Each candidate must be permitted on request and within a reasonable deadline to obtain information concerning themself, including the results of the assessments and tests (psychological, graphological, etc.) or any other professional assessments carried out.

This right of access applies to information collected directly from the candidate, to any information collected from third parties, as well as information resulting from recruitment-support procedures and techniques.

Processing personal data

Processing data which exclusively targets the management of candidacies and recruitment as well as staff administration is exempt from notification to the National Commission for Data Protection (Commission Nationale pour la Protection des Données - CNPD).

However, to this end, processing data about the candidate may not cover:

  • data related to the health of the person concerned;
  • data of a sensitive or legal nature;
  • data used for the assessment of the person concerned.

Furthermore, this data may not be communicated to third parties, except in the context of application of a legal or statutory provision, or if required for the implementation of the objectives of the processing.

Job offer or commitment to hire

After having evaluated the skills and checked the reliability of candidates, the employer may hire the candidate who, in his eyes, best corresponds to the profile sought.

If the employment contract cannot be drawn up immediately, the employer may formalise their wish to hire the candidate by drafting:

  • either a job offer in which the employer unilaterally declares to hire the candidate.
    The job offer states, in detail:
    • the employee's recruitment conditions;
    • the maximum deadline for the candidate to accept the offer.

An employer may withdraw the offer before it is accepted by the candidate.
From the moment the candidate accepts the offer, it is considered an employment contract.

  • or a commitment to hire or a letter of commitment in which the employer commits to signing an employment contract with the candidate, provided the latter accepts.
    The commitment to hire must state, in detail:
    • the employee's recruitment conditions;
    • the nature of the work;
    • the recruitment date;
    • the duration of the contract;
    • the salary.

It is recommended to set a deadline for the commitment bearing in mind that the employer commits himself to hiring the candidate according to the terms stated in the commitment to hire.

Who to contact

National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD)

Ministry for Gender Equality and Diversity

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