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Is There Validity in the Employee Selection Process?

December 15, 2009

Seldom do I find things extremely interesting or that give me an “ah ha” moment, but today’s workshop was interesting. What really struck me this evening was the actual inconsistencies involved in the hiring process.While I knew it was there, there was nothing I knew of to modify my issues with the selection process. Many times, the managers receive the applicants’ resume and application, complete an initial screening and make the determination from the interview. But, is there true validity in interviews whatsoever? Or is it purely subjective, based on mood, or experience of the interviewer or interviewee? How can we improved the process?

Scientific validity is tested through experiments and observation. For a theory to be be valid, it must be observable,  consistently demonstrated, measurable, and reliable. The theory in HR is that the interview is a valid method to make the final determination for hiring. Is it? What does an interview tell the interviewer other than ‘a time when blah, blah, blah….’? Interviewers who use the interview as the determining factor as to whether or not the candidate receives a job, need to rethink the process.

Behavioral Consistency model, shows us that past behavior is a predictive determinant of future behavior. So, what does an interview really tell the interviewer. With the questions I have heard and have asked before, it does not tell you what you exactly need to know. When you make the decision to hire someone, the interviewer needs to really understand the how the person will perform once on the job. As in scientific research, one must remove the confounds and biased information in order to complete an experiment. In HR, this can only come from speaking with people that the candidate knows or have worked with. They are the best sources to understand his or her past behavior. Dr. Woundy, Adjunct Professor of Human resources, former HR director for Nestle, stated that to get a good understanding of the interviewee the interviewer has to speak with their references–unplanned references.

Unplanned references are not the one’s the interviewee submits on paper, but the ones the interviewer asks for directly during an interview. Remember, the interviewer must remove the confounds to ensure the validity of selection. Of course, before hand, the interviewer will inform the individual of the purpose of asking for additional references and have the interviewee sign a reference release waiver. During the interview, ask the interviewee to name off random individuals that they know. For example, give me the names of colleagues whose last name begins with the letter B and their home phone number. After the interviewer has gotten a list, it is only necessary to call only 3 or 4 of them. After gaining a good list of names in this “experiment”, call them. Don’t even bother calling the “planned references”.

I think this is a brilliant idea for two reasons. First it minimizes biases because many applicants only place “good” references on their resumes or reference lists. Nobody ever includes a bad reference! With the new references list, the interviewer can begin inquiring with these references about the candidate. It is okay to call only 3 or 4 of these fresh references because the interviewer will begin to see a pattern in the responses of these unplanned references. Secondly, it is observable and measurable. If there are inconsistencies in their responses, then it is obvious to call a few more until the a steady pattern is observed. Going back to the concept of validity, the recruiter will be able to observe the consistency in the responses and is able to measure the number of positive and negative responses. Lastly, because these are unbiased methods of getting the information and these methods can be demonstrated over several interviewees, it is very reliable.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2010 11:06 pm

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

    • La Tron permalink*
      January 18, 2010 11:25 am

      Thank you for the comment! At first I had no idea what I was doing, but now I think I am developing a sense of what interests me and what I can possibly share with others. I will try to keep it up! Thanks!

  2. January 9, 2010 6:11 am

    Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.

  3. January 10, 2010 10:21 am

    Damn, that sound’s so easy if you think about it.

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