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Chapter Eleven Selection: The Classic Trio

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1 Chapter Eleven Selection: The Classic Trio
PEOPLE RESOURCING Chapter Eleven Selection: The Classic Trio

2 ‘The classic trio’ refers to the traditional set of activities used by organisations to select new recruits: application form (used by over 80% of employers) interview (used almost universally) reference-checking (used by over 75% of employers). Although extremely popular in practice, these techniques have been heavily criticised by occupational psychologists on the grounds of validity – how accurately they predict job performance. Validity studies on these techniques reveal them to be markedly poorer than more sophisticated techniques such as personality tests and assessment centres.

3 Accuracy of some sources of selection Source: Smith et al (1989)

4 Reasons for such wide use of the classic trio over more complex psychological approaches include:
They are straightforward and relatively low-cost. They are expected and accepted by job applicants, and less likely to cause stress. A view that psychological tests are controversial – is personality readily measurable and stable over time?

5 These are often used in favour of CVs because:
Application forms These are often used in favour of CVs because: They allow candidates to be compared equally – along the criteria specified by the organisation. They avoid possible ‘contamination’ effects and ‘impression management’. To be most effective, separate application forms can be designed for each vacancy advertised – allowing the specific questions to be tailored to the specific demands of the job. Employers should be wary of controversial questions that may be seen as discriminatory and not relevant to an individual’s ability to perform in the role (such as questions about age or hobbies).

6 Shortlisting This involves boiling down the candidates to a number that is reasonable to invite for interview. Again there is tension concerning the relative merits of methodical and more informal approaches. The systematic approach involves drawing up a list of criteria based on the person specification, and then several different individuals score each application form against these standards. There is an inherent fairness in such an approach. The potential downside is that good candidates can potentially be screened out if the criteria drawn up are too exacting.

7 Online sifting These systems can help reduce the sheer volume of applications often generated by online recruitment. Several approaches can be used: online application/biodata forms that are questionnaire- based and scored electronically online personality tests online ability tests CV-matching technologies utilising key word searches self-assessment questionnaires, which aim to encourage those who score poorly to select themselves out of the selection process.

8 Problems with interviews
Many problems have been identified in relation to typical, unstructured interviews: expectancy effect - self-fulfilling prophecy effect primacy effect - prototyping effect halo and horns effect - contrast effect negative info bias effect - similar-to-me effect personal liking effect - information overload effect temporal extension effect - fundamental attribution error effect Such problems often have more to do with the skills of the specific interviewer than the interview mechanism itself.

9 Reasons for the survival of the traditional interview
Many managers are unaware of the research, or regard themselves as exceptions – as intuitive interviewers who would avoid the classic errors. Intrinsic costs are low. It is often used as just one in a range of selection tools. It allows a ‘mutual preview’ – in which the employer and applicant meet face to face and exchange important information that is unrelated to performance prediction. It allows negotiation on topics such as start dates, training provisions and other terms and conditions. It can be useful in labour market public relations. People expect to be interviewed, and may well not feel they have had a fair hearing or respectful treatment if denied one.

10 Varieties of interview format
One-to-one interview, which has the advantage of informality but can result in information overload and subjective bias Two interviewers/panel interview, which can reduce subjectivity but can be difficult to arrange, daunting for the candidate and often poorly controlled Sequential interview, which can be seen as the best of both worlds. The danger here is that each interviewer asks the same questions, or that the candidate can accept another job offer during the lengthy process 360-degree interview, which is used mainly for senior positions, or where effective team membership is crucial to success in a role.

11 Varieties of interview questions
Hypothetical/problem-solving or situational questions – These involve asking candidates how they would react or behave in specific situations Behavioural questions – These are less common but often more effective questions that focus on past events in the candidate’s life. The interviewer hopes to hear of occasions when the interviewee has demonstrated the abilities or behaviours most relevant to the job Stress questions – These are designed to observe, at first hand, the candidate’s reaction to stressful or uncomfortable situations. They can be dangerous in terms of labour-market PR.

12 Good-practice in interview questioning:
Ask open-ended questions rather than direct questions, except when verifying facts. Avoid asking questions that reveal the desired answer. Avoid engaging in arguments – stick to restrained and courteous discussion about issues of importance to the job. Ask one question at at a time.

13 Structuring interviews
Research has consistently revealed that structured interviews have considerably higher predictive validity than unstructured equivalents. Downsides to structured interviews include: the formal atmosphere the lack of scope for the interviewer to probe for more information the fact that the process can appear rushed – as the interviewer struggles to get through all the questions on the schedule. There are two compromise solutions that can help to ameliorate these problems: semi-structuring and mixed approaches.

14 Semi-structuring ‘Focused’ interviewing allows a degree of flexibility, as the interviewer plans a series of topics to cover in the interview, but follows up with additional questions. Mixed approaches The interviewer can use different questioning techniques at different stages of the interview.

15 Telephone interviewing
Increasingly popular, this is a quick and relatively cheap method of deciding which candidates to invite to a formal face-to-face interview. Advantages: Some suggest that telephone interviews reduce unfair bias based on an applicant’s appearance. They are often more businesslike, with the interviewer focusing on the key questions from the start. IRS research indicates that candidates were consistently rated more poorly in telephone interviews than when interviewed face to face. It is important therefore that the same method of interview is used with all candidates.

16 Employment references
This is the final stage in the classic trio – rarely used in the initial selection of an employee, but more to double-check facts and confirm the suitability of the selected candidate. Dangers include: subjectivity carelessness on the part of the former employer a tendency to give ‘good’ ratings/central ratings in a five-point scale fear of apparent bias or, worse, negativity on the part of the former employer – resulting in a reference which confirms basic facts of employment only.

17 Three improvements to the reference-gathering process:
Contacting by telephone (less anonymous) Designing a structured assessment form that relates specifically to the skills and experience necessary for the role Requesting more than two referees.

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