The Role of Human Resource Management

The Selection Process

Recruiting gets people to apply for positions, but once you've received applications, you still have to select the best candidate – another complicated process. The selection process entails gathering information on candidates, evaluating their qualifications, and choosing the right one. At the very least, the process can be time-consuming – particularly when you're filling a high-level position – and often involves several members of an organization.

Let's examine the selection process more closely by describing the steps that you'd take to become a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Most business students don't generally aspire to become FBI agents, but the FBI is quite interested in business graduates – especially if you have a major in accounting or finance. With one of these backgrounds, you'll be given priority in hiring. Why? Unfortunately, there's a lot of white-collar crime that needs to be investigated, and people who know how to follow the money are well suited for the task.


The first step in becoming a gun-toting accountant is, obviously, applying for the job. Don't bother unless you meet the minimum qualifications: you must be a U.S. citizen, be age twenty-three to thirty-seven, be physically fit, and have a bachelor's degree. To provide factual information on your education and work background, you'll submit an application, which the FBI will use as an initial screening tool.

Employment Tests

Next comes a battery of tests (a lot more than you'd take in applying for an everyday business position). Like most organizations, the FBI tests candidates on the skills and knowledge entailed by the job. Unlike most businesses, however, the FBI will also measure your aptitude, evaluate your personality, and assess your writing ability. You'll have to take a polygraph (lie-detector) test to determine the truthfulness of the information you've provided, uncover the extent of any drug use, and disclose potential security problems.


If you pass all these tests (with sufficiently high marks), you'll be granted an interview. It serves the same purpose as it does for business recruiters: it allows the FBI to learn more about you and gives you a chance to learn more about your prospective employer and your possible future in the organization. The FBI conducts structured interviews – a series of standard questions. You're judged on both your answers and your ability to communicate orally.

Physical Exam and Reference Checks

Let's be positive and say you passed the interview. What's next? You still have to pass a rigorous physical examination (including a drug test), as well as background and reference checks. Given its mission, the FBI sets all these hurdles a little higher than the average retail clothing chain. Most businesses will ask you to take a physical exam, but you probably won't have to meet the fitness standards set by the FBI. Likewise, many businesses check references to verify that applicants haven't lied about (or exaggerated) their education and work experience. The FBI goes to great lengths to ensure that candidates are suitable for law-enforcement work.

Final Decision

The last stage in the process is out of your control. Will you be hired or rejected? This decision is made by one or more people who work for the prospective employer. For a business, the decision maker is generally the line manager who oversees the position being filled. At the FBI, the decision is made by a team at FBI headquarters. If you're hired as a special agent, you'll spend twenty-one weeks of intensive training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.