traditional unstructured interview most common but least effective, why still relied on by managers during selection process, and how to make selection process more effective? Explain best approach to making sound selection decisions and justify
Hiring employees effectively is vital to the survival of any organisation. The hiring process consists of soliciting potential candidates during recruitment and then determining the best candidates to be employees during the selection process. The selection process, in particular, enables organisations to build and maintain a productive and motivated workforce that will be the key to their success. The objective of the selection process is to enable valid predictions of performance and effective employee decisions in potential employees. Mistakes in selection could have terrible consequences on the organisation. For example, if a company hires someone who does not have people skills and place him in customer services, it could result in loss of future sales. Therefore, it is in an organisation’s interest to make sound selection decisions and make the selection process as objective and scientific as possible.
Any recruitment and selection process usually begins with the applicant indicating their formal interest in the vacancy. After that, there are several selection systems employed by organisations. Methods include interviews, psychological tests and performance tests. These are designed to assess the candidate’s knowledge, skills, personality and attitudes. Each of these methods has their strengths and weaknesses, and when evaluating each method, one should consider its practicality, sensitivity, legality, reliability and validity.
Interviews are the most widely used method in the selection process, but also one of the least effective. According to the a CIPD survey from 2009, competency-based interviews is the most used method (69%), while interviews following a biographical CV and structured interviews ranked second and third respectively. Anderson (1992) summarised that interviews remain popular because of their social functions of selling, persuading and negotiating, their acceptability to interviewers and candidates, and also due to time and cost constraints. Unstructured interviews have many weaknesses and limitations, including stereotyping, the similar-to-me effect, the personal liking effect, the primary effect, and the contrast effect. Structured interviews in the form of situational interviews and behavioural interviews have proved to be more effective than unstructured ones. Behavioural interviews asking candidates how have performed in the past give good indications of how they will perform in the future. Situational interviews can find out more specifically how candidates would respond to a particular situation relevant to the job. These two types of interviews also obtain more consistent information for comparison as the same questions are asked of all candidates. Consequently, the structured approach has been criticised by Anderson (1992) as being inflexible and reduce the role of the interviewer to a mere administrator of questions, leading to potential resentment.
Another selection method is psychological testing. These include cognitive tests of ability, numeracy and literacy, and personality measures. They are professionally developed and therefore checked for validity and reliability. This method is also scientific and objective, and increases the validity of selection decisions. Factors which cannot be measured through interview can also be tested in this way. This method is mostly used by larger organisations. However, racial and ethnic bias is a concern for this type of tests. Personality tests that use frameworks such as Big Five can capture up to 75% of a candidate’s personality. Emotional stability is an especially important trait to be tested.
Performance tests require candidates to perform the job in a short period of time. These are done either by work samples or assessment centres. Work samples can give good indication with high validity of how well the candidate can perform at the job if they are designed well. However these are costly to design and must be specific to each job, having to be modified as the job changes. Assessment centres are also expensive. They assess a number of candidates together using multiple methods.
New advances in technology are rapidly changing the selection process. The weighted application blank (WAB) captures data using a standardised application form and assigns weighted values to each question depending on the employee characteristic to be measured. The resulting score will then be used in making the selection decision. A study by Kaak et al. (1998) reported that the WAB is an effective selection tool that can distinguish good performers and can reduce turnover rate in the hospitality industry. It is an objective and scientific tool, and proves to be cost and time efficient once the scoring system has been established. In addition, many researchers have concluded that biodata is one of the best selection devices for predicting employee performance and turnover (Harold et al., 2006; Ployhart et al., 2006). Biodata is the life historical events that may contribute to shaping of the candidate’s preferences, attitudes and personality traits.
Work sample and ability tests have the highest validities of over 0.4 while biodata, assessment centres and structured interviews follow closely behind. Other methods such as unstructured interviews and personality tests have lower levels of validity. Therefore, to make sound selection decisions, an organisation should use methods of high validity, taking into considering how cost efficient it is with the number of candidate expected.