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Home arrow Psychology arrow The Wiley Blackwell handbook of the psychology of recruitment, selection and employee retention

Section 2: Selection

Section 2 focuses on selection, an area with a rich history of rigorous scientific research. People possess a wide array of characteristics and capabilities - often referred to as individual differences - which have a direct impact on their job performance in organizations. These individual differences include a large taxonomy of cognitive, interpersonal and physical competences. Organizations select the ‘right’ people to hire, place and promote by measuring these job-relevant individual differences.

While this area of selection has a long history, it is still evolving in exciting ways as measurement, statistical and technological advances drive the field forward. We have seen the great progress and expansion in this area of research, which is reflected in the range and number of topics covered in this section of the handbook. The first six chapters focus on well-established techniques used to assess people for selection and promotion. The techniques covered include standardized tests (intelligence, ability, personality, biodata and situational judgment tests [SJTs]), as well as more interactive, higher fidelity approaches, such as interviews and simulations. This is followed by two chapters that look at modern technological advances and their impact on selection, covering online testing and gamification approaches to assessment. Next, the section turns to new challenges in designing selection systems, such as their use for selecting individuals to regular as well as virtual teams. There is also a chapter on using selection to facilitate leadership development. The section ends by touching on diversity, a central topic in the study of selection, and includes chapters on gender findings, race, ethnicity, national culture findings and legal issues in general.

In Chapter 7, Jesus F. Salgado begins by focusing on the selection method with the longest research history: ability testing. The roots of ability testing can be found in the study of intelligence, which can be traced to the end of the nineteenth century. The author discusses the history of general and specific cognitive ability testing, covering topics that include construct definitions and structures as well as various models of intelligence. Salgado goes on to discuss validity evidence in terms of the use of ability tests in predicting job performance and furthermore touches on important topics such as validity generalization. The author examines this research by surveying a wide range of predicted outcomes, including task, non-task and training performance. Salgado also discusses the implications for subgroup differences and applicant reactions to these types of measures.

In Chapter 8, David J. Hughes and Mark Batey focus on the other side of the coin from ability testing: personality assessment. While the origin of personality assessment can be found in clinical psychology and the study of dysfunction, this chapter concentrates on identifying job-relevant facets of personality to use for predicting performance at work. Their chapter explores the validity evidence for personality assessments used in selection systems and examines research on the various structural models of personality and their efficacy for predicting in job settings. The authors delve into research on topics such as the incremental validity of personality assessments, whether broad or specific factors are more predictive and the challenges of response distortion when collecting personality data. The authors conclude by summarizing how and when personality assessments can best be used and also suggest further areas of study that can help us improve personality testing for selection systems.

In Chapter 9, Melinda Blackman tackles the interview which arguably has a longer history of use than either ability or personality testing, but not as long a history when it comes to scientific study. Employment interviews have long remained the most commonly used selection instrument, but have often been informal and less rigorously developed. Blackman reviews the evolution of interviewing over time and the scientific progress that has led to the development of different types of interview, procedural advances and formats of use. The author reviews the latest research on the wide range of options and approaches that can be used when interviewing so that a highly reliable and valid interview process can be put in place.

In Chapter 10, Adrian Furnham reviews a wide range of alternative selection instruments and screens that have been used by organizations to assess job candidates. Furnham discusses the use of these instruments in assessing an array of key outcomes, including the candidate’s ability, motivation and preference for certain type of activities and roles. This chapter covers an assortment of approaches for collecting this information, including self-report, observational and personal history methodologies. The chapter discusses the many techniques that fall under these categories, such as biodata, resumes, references and even graphology. Furnham delves into the research on these techniques and compares and contrasts the findings regarding the reliability and validity of these selection methods. The chapter examines the psychological issues that impact the validity of these approaches, such as self-insight and distortion, as well as how to properly design these instruments to maximize their validity and utility in work settings.

In Chapter 11, Jan Corstjens, Filip Lievens and Stefan Krumm examine the literature on situational judgment tests (SJTs), a relatively new technique that focuses on providing scenarios for candidates to react to as a means of assessing their judgement and decision-making capabilities. The authors start by presenting the traditional SJT approach, which focuses on decision making in context, then segue to a new perspective which focuses on removing context in order to capture a candidate’s generalized knowledge. The chapter closely examines key research on both perspectives, including findings on reliability, validity, subgroup differences and applicant reactions, and concludes by discussing future directions for research about these two perspectives.

In Chapter 12, Ryan S. O’Leary, Jacob W. Forsman and Joshua A. Isaacson conclude discussion of the main techniques for selection by focusing on the role of simulations in assessing talent. Simulations are assessments that measure candidates’ abilities by having them perform work-relevant tasks. That is, by having candidates perform activities that resemble what they are required to do on the job, it is believed they can readily be assessed for their ability to succeed in that job. In the chapter, the authors present a taxonomy of the wide array of simulation types used in selection and go on to discuss key psychometric outcomes, including validity evidence and impact in terms of subgroup differences. The authors also tackle key underlying psychological issues, such as the influence of fidelity and the implications of construct validity when it comes to using simulations. They conclude by discussing a host of other important topics relating to simulations, including applicant reactions, cross-cultural considerations and the role of simulations in recruiting and organizational branding.

Chapter 13, by Dave Bartram and Nancy Tippins, begins an examination of the direct impact of technology on selection systems by focusing on the implications of using online testing for selecting individuals for jobs. Much as was seen in performance management with the proliferation of processes like 360-degree feedback as the technology permitted, we have seen a parallel growth in the development and implementation of online selection testing thanks to advances in technology. The authors focus on the globalization of selection systems as enabled by online tools and the implications for validity. The chapter covers the research findings for online testing as well as critical associated issues, such as the security and cheating concerns that emerge when testing candidates online.

In Chapter 14, Michael Fetzer, Jennifer McNamara and Jennifer L. Geimer discuss the exciting advances in gaming and the use of these evolving, technologically-based processes to scientifically make accurate selection decisions. The authors discuss the nature of gaming-derived assessment instruments and why such approaches are expected to yield strong validity results. They present the current findings from this field of research and discuss future directions for study. The chapter also explores the challenges faced in utilizing gaming-based selection devices. The authors go on to provide practical guidelines for successfully implementing these types of systems in work organizations.

The section next shifts to exploring how selection systems can be used to handle teams rather than individuals as the key level of analysis in work organizations. That is, with a shift in many organizations to team-based processes and structures, the next two chapters consider the implications of this shift for putting in place successful selection systems.

In Chapter 15 Mengqiao Liu, Jason L. Huang and Marcus W. Dickson specifically focus on how to assess and select individuals to teams in a manner that leads to successful team performance. To explore this topic, the authors examine the nature of teams and the individual capabilities required for effective team work. From this foundation, the chapter goes on to identify various assessment tools that can measure these capabilities for selection purposes. The chapter concludes by highlighting key areas for future research on this evolving topic.

In Chapter 16, Geeta D’Souza, Matthew S. Prewett and Stephen M. Colarelli take a different perspective on teams by focusing on the growing phenomenon of virtual teams and how selection processes can be leveraged to facilitate their success. They note how the increase in the number of virtual teams as a product of globalization and rapid improvement in communication technologies has raised the question of how to select individuals who will be successful in this novel setting. The chapter begins by defining virtual teams and exploring the nature of this context and how it differs from typical normal settings. After fully conceptualizing the context, the authors go on to extrapolate which individual capabilities are required to be successful in this setting and review a variety of selection tools that can be useful in measuring these target competencies. Their review includes discussing the strengths and limitations of these selection tools with regard to their validity when used to select for virtual teams.

In Chapter 17, Neta Moye, Rose Mueller-Hanson and Claus Langfred examine a different use of assessment and selection systems. Based on the premium placed on having successful leaders to drive organizational success, the focus of this chapter is on using assessment to foster leadership development. The authors begin by discussing how the purpose of the assessment, which in this case is development, has implications for the design of the assessment process. They explore the unique challenges of the leadership development context and provide both research-based and best practice lessons on how to implement effective leadership development systems based on assessment. In particular, the chapter comprehensively examines the key attributes of a leader that should be assessed for developmental purposes and the type of assessment instruments that can be used to measure these targeted competencies.

The final part of the selection section of the handbook focuses on diversity. With selection systems acting as an important gateway to success in work organizations, societal concerns regarding potential racial, ethnic and gender differences have greatly influenced work in the area of staffing.

In Chapter 18, Jeannette N. Cleveland, Jaclyn Melendez and Lauren Wallace

focus specifically on gender differences relating to selection processes. As they note, most research shows that men and women do not substantially differ in terms of their performance at work, however differences have been observed on selection systems that have led to differential outcomes based on gender. The chapter examines the historical entry of large numbers of women into the workforce since the 1960s and the impact this has had on organizations when it comes to recruitment, selection and retention. The chapter closely examines a number of topics that have emerged from gender research, including the occupational segregation of jobs based on gender, limiting beliefs and perceptions held by both men and women that have impacted the success of women in the workplace, the uneven playing field for women found outside the workplace and the impact on women of the organizations’ narrow criteria for success.

In Chapter 19, Charles A. Scherbaum and his colleagues explore the controversial finding of significant racial, ethnic and national culture differences on common selection tests and assessments. The contributors closely examine the body of research conducted in this area in order to understand the differences that have been found and, even more importantly, what possible explanations there are to account for these differences. While many chapters have been written that examine this issue, Scherbaum and his colleagues take the novel approach of systematically integrating findings regarding cultural differences with the well-known work done on racial and ethnic differences. In addition, they explore more recent explanations for these differences that challenge long-standing positions advocated by researchers in this area in order to drive our thinking forward when designing valid and fair selection systems.

In Chapter 20, Kenneth P. Yusko and colleagues conclude this section by discussing legal issues and their role and impact on the design of selection systems. The authors focus on how to design valid employee selection systems that comply with current legal hiring requirements and standards. While laws and legal guidelines are constantly changing and vary greatly around the globe, this chapter is important for understanding the critical impact that legal issues have when designing a valid and fair selection systems. The chapter initially focuses on the United States and then shifts to examine legal issues in many other parts of the world in keeping with the broader global perspective of this handbook. The authors provide both a historical review of key legal developments and events that have impacted selection system design and an examination of the professional standards that provide a foundation for building psychometrically sound and legal selection systems.

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