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Administrative Studies
ADMS 2600
Paul Fairlie

HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella LESSON 6: EMPLOYEE SELECTION INTRODUCTION The greatest competitive advantage that organizations have is their human resources and as a result, companies are paying more attention to building a strong and skilled workforce. Once a pool of candidates has been identified through the recruitment process, it is then time to assess the pool of candidates and select those who can make the best contribution to organization goals. Topics will include: • person-job fit • person-organization fit • the selection process • reliability and validity • application forms • biographical information blanks • background checks • employment tests • the employment interview • questions pre and post hiring • reaching a selection decision LEARNING OUTCOMES At the end of this module, you will be able to: 1. Identify the objectives of the selection process 2. Identify the various sources of information used for personnel selection 3. Describe the different types of employment tests and explain when to use them 4. Explain the different approaches to conducting an employment interview 1 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella 5. Describe the various strategies for selection TEXT READING: Employee Selection Pages 245 - 293 LECTURE NOTES 1. SELECTION Selection is: the process of choosing individuals who have relevant qualifications to fill existing or projected job openings. Source: Text, p. 246 The goal of selection is to have more successes than failures. See Figure 6.1 on page 246 shows the overall goal in chart format. Person-Job Fit begins with job analysis. Job descriptions and job specifications are the first step in selection because they provide information about what the tasks of the work and what is required to perform the job successfully. This then provides the basis for the development of questions and identifies information that needs to be collected from the candidate and other sources to determine if there is a fit to the job. Person-Organization Fit is another method used to determine if a prospective candidate will be offered a position. Not only does the candidate need to have the right skills, but many organizations also place a priority on finding people who will fit into the broader company e.g. people who have the same values. Employers who value organizational fit will even pass up on a qualified candidate if they believe that they will not fit into the overall workplace. The Selection Process 2 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella The steps in the selection process are: 1. Completion of the application 2. Initial interview by HR 3. Employment testing 4. Background investigation 5. Preliminary selection in HR department 6. Supervisor/team interview 7. Hiring decision Not all steps will take place e.g. employment testing may not happen. However, it is important to note that the purpose of each step is to reduce the number of candidates at each level. 2. RELIABLE AND VALID INFORMATION If selection decisions are to be effective, the information you collect needs to be reliable and valid. Reliability basically means that if two raters were to use the same methods in selecting the same candidate, they should basically come up with a similar result. Validity has to do with how well the processes that were used measured the person’s knowledge, skills and abilities. a) Criterion-Related Validity is the extent to which your selection tool predicts the success of the candidate’s performance based on some criteria, such as quality or quantity. For example, if candidates with high test scores tend to have better productivity than those with lower test scores, then there is criterion related validity. b) Concurrent Validity is the extent to which test scores (or other predictor information) match criterion data obtained at about the same time from current employees. For example, the test scores of your candidates are matched to the test scores of your current high performers. c) Predictive Validity is the extent to which applicants’ test scores match the data obtained from employees after they have been on the job for some time period. There is also face validity - how relevant a test or other selection procedure appears to the applicant. 3 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella Cross Validation is used to verify the results of your validity tests. Giving the test to a different group of people from the same population as the original group does this. However, you do not have to run validity studies in all cases. The more data you have over time, the easier selection becomes. Content Validity Content validity looks at the knowledge and skills needed to do the job and picks a representative sample to measure. Job analysis is a source of content validity because it is most often based on the opinions of subject matter experts. For example, the RCMP has used content validity by having a group of experienced staff in the job develop an outline that covers the essential knowledge that one should have to be able to perform that work. You can also see this method used in developing licensing tests for professionals such as physicians, architects, accountants, and psychologists. Construct Validity This method is not used widely in employment situations because of the difficulty in creating the test instruments internally. Construct validity measures a theoretical construct or trait. For example, a mechanical comprehension test consists of a wide variety of tasks that are assumed to measure the construct of mechanical comprehension. To use it in employment situations, one has to show that the test measures the construct, AND that the construct or trait is related to satisfactory job performance. Large organizations use the services of psychologists to develop this type of testing for them e.g. there is a test now that indicates whether a person has the abilities required by call centre staff. 3. SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT JOB CANDIDATES Application Forms Application forms, whether paper or electronic, are generally the first step in the selection process. The information provided on application forms is the basis for other questions you might have about a candidate’s background or skills. However, some employers may be using application forms that are in violation of 4 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella human rights and employment equity legislation. It is important for HR to check all application forms periodically. Online Applications The online application process has become much more popular in recent years. Some companies even use software to sort through applications and conduct screening tests online. There are some advantages and disadvantages associated with online applications. It can generate a larger number of applications and tends to promote greater employee diversity. However, in the potentially large volume of applications, many fail to meet the minimum qualification. Biographical Information Blanks Most application forms ask candidates to report on their past experiences and accomplishments. A different approach is the use of the Biographical Information Blank (BIB) which includes questions about experiences that the job applicant had with others in the past, such as parents, teachers, and coworkers. The applicants answer a series of multiple choice or short answer questions, which include biodata items, related to health, family background, socioeconomic status, hobbies, interests, values and attitudes. After being validated, BIBs are usually scored like tests. Weights are assigned to an applicant's responses according to how much a response to a particular item relates to valid predictors of job success (the criterion). Background Checks Virtually all employers conduct some form of background check on applicants to verify information supplied by the applicants. It is not unusual (unfortunately) for candidates to falsify educational requirements or work experiences. 5 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella Most prospective employers check references by telephone or mail. You may find though, that the telephone will provide you more honest information because many former employers are loathe to put negative information in writing. Tone of voice, hesitation in speaking, etc. can all be good indicators of past performance. Reference checks can: •reduce turnover •reduce theft •reduce white collar crime You can also leave yourself open to legal action if you do not do a reference check. For example, if you hire a person who was previously terminated for sexual harassment and that person harasses a current employee of yours, you could be open to action in that you were not diligent in protecting your current staff because you did not do a reference. That is not to say the previous employer would have given you the information. However, you need to be able to say that you did check and the fact that you were not provided with the information is not your fault. Written requests are also seen as time consuming by the person completing the reference so they will not be thorough in their completion. In addition, written requests are often completed by HR, rather than by the manager or the supervisor who had a closer relationship with the staff member. On the telephone, you are more likely to speak to the manager or supervisor. A good question to always ask is “would you rehire this person”. The answer to this question is often telling. It is always good business to have applicants provide permission in writing for you to speak to their references, and some agencies require this. Employers are also often requesting credit reports on individuals. You need permission to seek this information but at the same time, like all jobs, you should only do so if it is related to the work. For example, someone who is fixing cars is less of a risk than someone who is handling uncut diamonds in a jewellery exchange. Financial institutions often require this information. Polygraph tests are rarely used in Canada, and some provinces like Ontario, prohibit their use. There are also honesty and integrity tests that can be valid for predicting job performance, as well as controlling theft, disciplinary problems, and absenteeism. However, like any good set of selection tools, this test should be only be one indicator of whether the candidate is appropriate for the job. Figure 5-8 on p. 200 provides some example questions that might be found on an integrity test. One other method is graphology or handwriting analysis. There is no evidence supporting the validity of this method and it should not be used. 6 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella 4. EMPLOYMENT TESTS An employment test is an objective and standardized measure of a sample of behaviour that is used to gauge a person's knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) in relation to other individuals. Psychological selection tools have been around for more than 60 years, however, if your organization intends to use this type of testing, it is important to use trained professionals in administering and/or evaluating the tests. Classification of Employment Tests Tests can be classified generally, as either “aptitude” (measuring a person s capacity to learn or acquire new skills) or “achievement” (measuring what a person currently knows and can do). Cognitive Ability Tests measure mental abilities such as intelligence, verbal fluency, numerical ability, and reasoning ability. Figure 6.6 on p. 261 provides examples of questions from the General Competency Test administered by the Public Service Commission of Canada. The validity issue of cognitive tests has to do with the fact that they are connected to general intelligence and it needs to be shown that this is also connected closely to the job. Personality and Interest Inventories measure a person's disposition e.g. whether you are an extrovert which might lead the employer to believe that you would be a good salesperson. The five most common personality factors measured are extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience. While many employers have used personality test, they actually have a low validity when used for performance on the job. They are best used when doing career planning. Figure 6.7 shows the facets as well as sample items from the California Psychological Inventory. Physical Ability Tests are common for physically demanding and potentially dangerous jobs such as firefighter. They tend to be good predictors of performance, accidents, and injuries. It is very important to show that the physical requirements of the job are valid before testing. Job Knowledge Tests measure the candidate’s understanding of the job and the work to be performed. These are often used to reduce on-the-job training. Work Sample Tests or Job Sample Tests ask candidates to perform tasks that are actually part of the job. They are similar to a job "tryout" and are used frequently in office/clerical jobs. One advantage of job knowledge tests and job sample tests is that they are objective sources of information about an individual’s knowledge and skills. These types of tests are used most commonly in professional positions and in the military. 7 HRM1283 Employee Selection Donna Verity and Chris Carella 5. THE EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW While the interview is a very traditional selection tool, there is evidence to suggest that the quality of the interviewer themselves will influence the interview, and that other elements such as whether the interview is structured or not will influence the success of the candidate. Generally, it is recommended that a more highly structured interview be used over an unstructured approach so that validity is high. The Nondirective Interview gives maximum freedom to the interviewer to determine the course of the interview. It is particularly useful in bringing out any information, attitudes, and feelings that may otherwise not be allowed to surface and is common in the selection of candidates for higher level positions in organizations. The Structured Interview uses a standard set of questions and preferred answers for rating candidates. This type of interview is especially good to respond to employment equity concerns and to increase the validity of interviews. It is very important that
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