Critical Thinking

1.0 array of selection processes best suited for

1.0 IntroductionAn organization’s efficiency and prolonged success is heavily dependent on their ‘human capital’ or employees (Wolf and Jenkins, 2006). This capital can be procured only through well defined and meticulous recruitment and selection processes.  These planned rational activities give basis to the core part of the underlying human resource management- ‘acquisition, development and reward of workers’ (French and Rumbles, 2010). Recruitment can be defined as ‘the process of generating a pool of capable people to apply for employment to an organization’. Whereas, selection is ‘the process by which managers and others use specific instruments to choose from a pool of applicants a person or persons more likely to succeed in the job(s), given management goals and legal requirements’ (Bratton and Gold, 2007). They are believed to be integrated activities and ‘where recruitment stops and selection begins is a moot point’ (Anderson, 1994). Irrespective of the two function’s close association, each requires a separate range of knowledge and skills to be fulfilled.This essay aims to list down the various methods used by firms to recruit and select individuals usually beginning with evaluation of résumés and ending with psychological tests to improve organisational efficiency; examine and critically evaluate their effectiveness and conclude its significance from the perspective of employees and organisations by drawing on literature and examples.2.0 Selection techniquesFollowing the recruitment of a pool of applicants, selection process is undertaken by the employers. Selection techniques are broadly evaluated on the basis of reliability (consistency of a method), validity (establishing relationship between results from the process and job performance) and usefulness (Bach and Sisson, 2002).Organisations need to pick an array of selection processes best suited for the job. Following are the most popular and widely used ones:2.1 Application forms and BiodataThese two methods are widely used to discard redundant applications and leave a pool of potential candidates for further screening. Application forms ask candidates questions to gather job-related information, some of which are verifiable (e.g. previous job’s remuneration) and others are non-verifiable (e.g. reasons for applying for a particular job). Biodata is a highly structured application form, further consisting of lifestyle and demographic questions. These are especially beneficial for firms that receive large number of applicants for limited number of jobs, to hand-pick the best candidates. But it has also been established that applicants use impression management tactics to provide fake information for the non-verifiable questions (Leopold and Harris, 2009). 2.2 GraphologyThis is a rather controversial and unconventional selection method as it takes into account the candidates’ handwriting analysis to reveal his/her characteristics and personality traits (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007). Only 30% of UK companies are believed to use handwriting analysis (Poole-Robb, 2014), whereas a striking 75% employers use this tool in France (The Guardian, 2009).2.3 ReferencesReferences are a widely used selection tool in UK (Shackleton and Newell, 1994). They are used to gather additional information from third parties, called referees, such as academic tutors and previous employers. However, the accuracy of the provided information is variable, as the factual information is more reliable than that about the candidate’s character and suitability (Armstrong, 2006). References can be asked in various formats- verbal telephonic or written; and used by employers at different stages in the selection process- such as some ask for it prior to the interview stage, while others ask at the end when the position has been offered (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007). This helps the recruiters to get an insight into the candidates working skills and knowledge. Yet interestingly many employers consider it to be ‘only marginally effective’ (Industrial Society, 1994) because of the constant risk of altered information being provided.2.4 Psychological testingPsychological tests can be defined as ‘carefully chosen, systematic and standardized procedures for evoking a sample of responses from a candidate, which can be used to assess one or more psychological characters by comparing the results with those of a representative sample of an appropriate population’ (Smith and Robertson, 1993). It is a means of achieving objectivity and reducing subjectivity in selection processes (Lewis, 1985). Approximately 76% of firms with over 100 workers rely on tests for external recruitment (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2015). Following are the various types of tests used by organizations:2.4.1 Ability and Aptitude testAbility tests, such as typing tests, evaluate the skillset already acquired by an individual. Aptitude tests, such as numerical and verbal reasoning, are concerned with the candidate’s potential to undertake tasks. Intelligence tests have also been used for a long time now to evaluate an individual’s overall mental capacity (Lewis, 1985). Such tests are valid predictors for a range of jobs and are comparatively easier to score and monitor. Conversely, ability tests are said to test restricted knowledge only and are considered to be influenced by bias. For instance- As compared to Whites, Black Americans are said to score less (Bach and Sisson, 2002).2.4.2 Personality questionnairesThese allow quantification of characteristics and personality traits based on the ‘big five’ personality factors that are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (Bach and Sisson, 2002). There is still an ongoing debate about the value and validity of personality tests and a lack of agreement on issues such as to what extent is personality measurable and to what extent it remains stable across various situations over time (Taylor, 2005).2.4.3 Online testsThere has been growing interests for online tests. These result in lowered costs making it affordable for low-paid jobs. Hitherto, conducting them via computers potentially means lack of control of environment in which the test is undertaken and the lack of verification of a candidate’s identity (IRS, 2002).Tests have a rather good reputation amongst both employers and applicants. They are valid and reliable because they measure the skills and characteristics a test is intended for, by measuring the same thing across different people at same time or across same people at different times. For instance, firms such as Procter & Gamble have two type of tests- namely P&G Success Drivers Assessment and the P&G Reasoning tests. The former is a personality test that helps the firm evaluate whether the candidate is fit for the job, whereas the latter comprises of verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning (P&G, 2008).Nonetheless, according to Newell and Shackleton (2000), tests on their own are not considered a good predictor for recruitment as changes in situational pressures can result in use of alternative solutions. Thus, they should be used as part of selection processes rather than in isolation.2.5 Telephone interviewTelephone interviews are being increasingly used as an integral part of the recruitment process since it helps to screen out the unsuitable candidates. According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 56% of organisations use telephone interviews for the selection process (CIPD, 2013). Advancements in technology have also given rise to the use of internet to conduct interviews.Benefits of this selection process are that it is an easy and quick to arrange method and is cost effective as an initial screening method.  It also provides less opportunity for a candidate to be discriminated on the grounds of race or sex (IRS, 2002), although a major drawback is that it fails to take into account the non-verbal communications (IRS, 2005).2.6 Assessment Centres (AC)An AC is not just a single selection method nor a place. Rather it can be defined as a process that ‘consists of a small group of participants who undertake a series of tests and exercises under observation with a view to the assessment of their skills and competencies, their suitability for particular roles and their potential for development’ (Fowler, 1992). A key component of this type of selection process is the job simulation activity, designed to give candidates an actual representation of the job itself by placing them in real life situations (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007).A study by TJinsite revealed that AC are used by approximately 68% firms and nearly 79% of these believe that they are reasonably effective means for recruitment (The Economic Times, 2012). ACs allow assessment of a group of candidates together resulting in cost effectiveness and aids to examine the group dynamics via group exercises. It further permits firms to observe the behaviour of an applicant in a work related setting (Leopold and Harris, 2009).  They are also favoured by candidates since it is said to measure the job-related qualities fairly and accurately (Anderson and Witvliet, 2008). Firms such as PWC and Barclays use this criterion for graduate recruitments.Nevertheless, the limitations of AC are the high costs and resources required for this process. Thus, are more likely to be used by large private sector or public sector firms (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007). It is a time consuming process, demanding training for the assessors, which further adds to the cost (Leopold and Harris, 2009). However, a survey conducted of HR recruiters of 91 firms revealed that 53% believed that the additional costs incurred while undertaking AC processes are justified (Crail, 2007).2.7 Personal InterviewsInterviews are widely used throughout UK. It can be broadly defined as ‘a controlled conversation with a purpose’ (Torrington et al., 2002). However, it comprises of a wide diversity of practices in terms of both the number of stages and the interviewers, based on the nature and seniority of the post. It can be on a one-to-one basis or a small group consisting of two-to-three interviewers or a panel of more than three recruiters (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2002).  For instance, Zappo- an e-commerce company, is renowned for the bizarre and amusing questions asked in its interview. Some of them are “If you were an animal, which one would you be?” and “How weird are you on a scale of 1 to 10?” (D’Onfro, 2014).In unstructured interviews the information extracted differs for each individual and between interviewers (Bach and Sisson, 2002). Thus, structured interviews help a firm to improve the reliability and validity of interviews.  Three features that differentiate it from an unstructured interview are that the questions are developed from the job analysis, candidates are asked standard similar questions and a systematic scoring procedure is used (Cooper and Robertson, 1995). For instance, Google’s global staffing lead and senior recruiter, Lisa Haynes, said that the firm uses ‘structured interviews’ ensuring that the candidates applying for the same job are assessed on the same interview methods (Umoh, 2017). The two main types of structured interviews are situational and behavioural. In situational, the questions focus on hypothetical situations, whereas in behavioural, interviewees are asked questions based on past behaviour and experiences (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007).Interviews have an advantage of being relatively cheaper in terms of direct costs and help to screen personnel’s professional and personal information. Nonetheless, interviews have a bad reputation of having unacceptable reliability, poor predictive validity and low sensitivity (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2002). They are also criticized for being prone to bias, are overly subjective and therefore considered as an unreliable predictor for future performance (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007).3.0 ConclusionThis essay has listed the best practices in respect to recruitment and selection processes, accounting the complexity of each tool and its resource intensive nature. Each tool has its pros and cons which a firm needs to weigh before selecting them. These processes operate in an environment which is dynamic and increasingly ambiguous. Thus, reinforcing the fact that no ‘one size fits all’ and that every firm tends to adopt a pragmatic approach to lay out a selection process which is best suited to find a probable employee for the offered job. Consequently, differences in approaches are found not only across organisations but also within organisations- based on the required skills and job vacancies (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007). In conclusion, it is imperative for the human resource managers to maintain transparency and utmost fairness throughout the selection process and thus focus on finding and hiring the best candidate to avoid the possible costs of selecting the wrong one and reduce consequent employee turnover.

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