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Personnel Selection

• Selection involves matching the person to
the job or organisation, and then
evaluating the effectiveness of that match
• Need information on:
 What the job requires
 What the person has to offer (KSAOs)
 How well the person (or that type of
person) performs in that type of work


The Selection Process: Utility

1. Company performance always depends in
part on employees.
2. It is very costly to recruit and hire
3. There are many legal implications of
incompetent selection.
4. Can depend on selection ratio and base
rate of success


Selection Ratio

Number of job vacancies/ Number of applicants
• If selection ratio ≥ 1 utility decreases
• If selection ratio less then or equal to one utility increases


Base Rate of Success

• Base rate: The proportion of hires
considered successful before implementation
of selection system
• The higher the base rate the less likely a
new system will be beneficial


Steps in the Selection Process

I. Employee Recruitment
II. Employee Screening
III. Employee Selection
and Placement
IV. Validity Check


I. Employee Recruitment

Process by which
companies attract qualified applicants
• Employee referrals and applicant-initiated
contacts yield higher quality workers with
lower rate of turnover than newspaper ads or
employment agency placement (e.g., Saks, 1994)
• Internet sites have lots of job seekers and
employers, and require sifting through many
potential applicants
• Employees try to sell themselves to
companies, but companies also try to sell
themselves to employees
• Characteristics of recruitment program and
recruiters can influence applicants’ decisions
to accept or reject job offers
• Some companies “oversell” themselves
which can cause new employees to become
dissatisfied and unmotivated


How does RJP relate to employee recruitment?

• Realistic job previews (RJP): An accurate
presentation of the prospective job and
organisation made to applicants
• RJPs increase job commitment and
satisfaction; decrease turnover (e.g., Horn et al., 1998)
• RJPs allow applicants to self-select, lower
unrealistically high job expectations, and may
provide applicants with information that will
later be useful on the job.
• But, applicants are more likely to turn down a
job offer when RJP presented


II. Employee Screening

The process of
reviewing information about job applicants to
select workers
1. Applications and resumes
2. References
3. Employment testing
4. Assessment Centres
5. Interviews


1. Applications and Resumes

• Purpose: to collect biographical information,
which is among the best predictors of future
job performance
• First impressions count! (Macan & Dipboye, 1994)
• Questions that are not job-related should not
be on application forms
• It can be difficult to evaluate and interpret
this information to determine most qualified


2. References

• May have limited importance because:
 It is unlikely that applicants will give details of
someone who would say something bad
 All references can be so positive that employers
can’t distinguish between applicants
 Litigation against employers who provide bad
references has caused some employers to refuse to
write them
• Still widely used in postgrad schools and
professional positions
 Often include rating forms
 Some get applicants to waive rights to see letter


3. Employment Testing

• Most employers use standardised tests
because it can be costly and time-consuming
to create valid and reliable tests
• Measure:
a. Biodata
b. Cognitive ability
c. Mechanical ability
d. Motor and sensory ability
e. Job skills and knowledge
f. Personality
g. Integrity
h. Other tests


a. Biodata

Background information and
personal characteristics
• There are no standardised biodata
instruments, and they can be difficult to
• Can be effective for screening and placement


b. Cognitive Ability

• May be tests of general intellectual ability or
tests of specific cognitive skills
• Typical tests include: WAIS, Wonderlick
Personnel Test, Raven’s matrices
• Cognitive ability is predictive of job success
• Provides an indication of the individual’s learning
potential and capacity to manage complexity in
problem solving, decision making etc.
• Validity moderated by complexity of job
• These tests may have adverse impact on
particular groups


c. Mechanical Ability Tests

• Standaridsed tests have
been developed to
measure abilities in
indentifying, recognising,
and applying mechanical
• Effective screening for
positions involving
operating and repairing
machinery, construction,


d. Motor and Sensory Ability Tests

• Motor tests: E.g., speed tests that require manipulation of small parts to measure fine motor dexterity
• Sensory tests: E.g., tests of hearing, visual acuity, and perceptual discrimination


e. Job Skills and Knowledge Tests

• Work samples tests: Measure applicants’
abilities to perform brief examples of
important job tasks
 Pos: clearly job-related and can serve as
realistic job preview
 Neg: Can be expensive and time-consuming
 Can be one of the best predictors of job
performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998)
• Job knowledge tests: Measure specific
types of knowledge required to perform a job


f. Personality

Before 1990s considered invalid predictors by
researchers although used by practitioners
• Now: Work-related personality characteristics
can be reasonably good predictors of job
performance, especially when the they are
derived from job analysis
• Some personality measures (e.g., MMPI) are
used to screen out applicants who posses

Conscientiousness predicts: Performance across jobs, Teamwork, Training
Emotional stability (Neuroticism) predicts: Performance across jobs, Teamwork
Extroversion predicts: Performance in specific roles e.g. sales, mgt Teamwork, Training
Agreeableness predicts: Teamwork, Customer service
Openness to experience Training


What different things to personality and cognitive ability predict?

Maximal (can do) performance best predicted by cognitive ability and typical (will do) performance best predicted by personality.


g. Integrity Tests

Designed to assess an applicant’s honesty and character through questions concerning drug use, shoplifting, petty theft, etc.

Although overt integrity tests are easy to ‘fake good’, covert tests are not, and the results are somewhat predictive of job performance (Alliger et al, 1996)

•Integrity tests are valid predictors of:
•Counterproductive behaviours (e.g., chronic tardiness, taking extended work breaks, ignoring or passing off assigned work tasks)


Other assessing tests

•Drug testing is on the rise
•Graphology: Analysis of handwriting


4. Assessment Centres

•Structured setting in which applicants take part in multiple activities (e.g., battery of written tests, role-playing, situational exercises, in-basket test), monitored by a group of evaluators.
•Typically used in large organisations for managerial positions
•Can be good predictors of managerial success, but can be very costly


5. Interviews

•One of the most common selection procedures
•Validity varies according to how the interview is conducted:
a.Traditional unstructured interviews
b.Structured interviews


a. Traditional Employment Interviews

•In unstructured interviews you simply ask questions that come to mind.
•No formalized “scoring” for the quality of each answer.
•May actually diminish the tendency to make simple stereotype judgments (e.g., about gender, race)


Traditional Employment Interviews

•Physically attractive people hired more than those less physically attractive, although not by the most experienced managers
•Unstructured interviews often give rise to poor selection decisions and sometimes lack predictive validity.
•There can be low level of agreement between interviewers


Factors That Can Undermine an Interview’s Usefulness

•Applicant self-presentation
•Snap Judgments
•Negative emphasis
•Self-fulfilling prophecies
•Misunderstanding the job
•Interview skills (e.g., communication) may not relate to job
•Pressure to hire
•Candidate-order (contrast) error
•Influence of nonverbal behavior
•Too much/too little talking
•Similar-to-me effect
•Halo effect
•Other personal prejudices/biases


b. Structured Interviews

•All applicants are evaluated in the same manner (same information is obtained in the same situation from all applicants, who are then compared on a common, relevant set of dimensions)
•Structured interviews are better than traditional interviews


What types of questions are asked in structured interviews?

Situational questions: Asks interviewees how they would deal with specific job-related, hypothetical situations

Behavioural questions: Asks interviewees to draw on past job incidents and behaviours to deal with hypothetical future work situations

Job knowledge questions: Assesses interviewee knowledge about the job

Background questions: Supplements information from resume and application form


What employee screening tests are most effective? Comparative Validities for Overall Job Performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998)

Work sample tests .54
Cognitive ability tests .51
Structured interviews .51
Job knowledge tests .48
Assessment centres .37
Biodata .35
Conscientiousness .31
References .26
Unstructured interviews .14
Graphology .02
Age -.01


III. Employee Selection & Placement

•Employee selection: The actual process of choosing people for employment from a pool of applicants
•Once employers have gathered information about job applicants, they can combine this information in various ways to make selection decisions
•Usually these decisions are made subjectively, but such decisions are error prone


How can decisions regarding employee selection be made?

•Decisions can be made more objectively using:

Multiple regression: A statistical decision-making model

Multiple cut-off model: Uses a minimum cutoff score for each of the various predictors of job performance

Multiple hurdle model: Requires an acceptance or rejection decision to be made at each of several stages in the screening process. Applicants who do not pass one of the hurdles are no longer considered for the job