When thinking about an effective selection method, the strategies used should be oriented toward an effective outcome where the skills, knowledge, experience and training of the successful candidate are the best match for the requirements of the position and the process is as fair as possible.
I realise this is a statement of the obvious, but an important statement nonetheless. I can't count how many times I have been involved in selections where recruiters have focussed on the process (or their interpretation of it) at the expense of success and equity. (Really! Who cares whether her shoes didn't match the dress? I actually don't believe that minor variations in dress sense mean a whole lot about a person's capacity to represent an organisation positively.)
An effective selection process begins, in my view, with a good job description which identifies major roles and functions as well as the personal characteristics (skills, knowledge, experience and training/education) required to carry out the roles and functions. Too many job descriptions don't actually describe anything, and even more job descriptions are too repetitive and long, which makes them difficult to use as an assessment tool.
Let's assume that the job description has been taken care of. The traditional selection process has tended to involve a process of receiving written applications, interviews and referee checks. Whilst far from perfect, this has kept the wheels of industry turning for decades.
Some of the more obvious flaws include finding applicants who are better at writing applications and performing at interviews than they are at actually "producing the goods". Another potential weakness is that referees do not always provide sound advice - either they are too close to the applicant (friendship) or do not know their work sufficiently, and in the worse cases simply lie to get rid of people. Of course, nowadays that is a bit risky legally, but it still happens.
More and more, companies are using other strategies to complement the traditional approach. This might include such things as psychometric testing of applicants, or asking applicants to undertake a task closely aligned to significant functions within the position. Some strategies are industry/profession specific and I don't profess to know them all.
I believe "alternative" selection strategies are a good development, but still in their infancy. Whatever strategy is used, some applicants will be advantaged or disadvantaged. The responsibility for the Recruiter is to make sure that advantage and disadvantage relate as closely as possible to the candidate's ability to perform the functions required.
Hope this is of some use as a starting point. All the best.
1st June 2005 From Australia, Ballarat