PSY 3490, Industrial Organizational Psychology 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Define psychological test, identify the different types of tests (e.g., cognitive ability tests, psychomotor ability tests, knowledge and skill test, personality tests, etc.), and apply these to work-related settings.
2. Analyze how biographical information, interviews, work samples, assessment centers, and electronic assessments are used to select employees.
3. Evaluate the employee recruitment process. 4. Research and apply the basic steps involved in selecting employees, including the steps needed to
conduct a validation study. 5. Explain how predictor information is used for selection. 6. Discuss the importance and utility of scientific selection, as well as the legal issues associated with
hiring decisions in the United States.
Reading Assignment Chapter 5: Assessment Methods for Selection and Placement Chapter 6: Selecting Employees
Unit Lesson Employee recruitment and selection is a major activity of I/O psychologists. Organizations spend much time and money hiring and training new employees, with researchers estimating that it costs roughly 200% of an employee’s salary to hire and train them (Griffeth & Hom, 2001). By hiring the right employees, organizations can ensure that new employees not only have the skills and abilities to perform the job well, but that they will be a great “fit” for the job (Sujarto, 2011). Studies show that a good fit is associated with important outcomes, such as organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and intentions to quit (Kristof-Brown, 2005). Considering the costs and important outcomes of employee selection, I/O psychologists use systematic approaches to recruit and select the most well-qualified and best-fitting candidates. Employee Selection Employee selection is a very important activity because who you select for a position has large implications, such as ensuring that new employees are able to perform the job well and reducing unnecessary employee turnover (Barrick & Zimmerman, 2009). Typically, selection involves assessing applicants and gathering information about them to determine the extent to which they are qualified and suitable for the job. The information that is gathered is related to the position; job-related information includes details of their work history, personality, interests, and other characteristics. The organization will also provide the employee with critical information about the organization and job. Some even provide a “realistic job preview,” in which they give applicants a candid view of the responsibilities and conditions involved (Suszko & Breaugh, 1986). Assessment Techniques I/O psychologists use a variety of assessment measures to gather information about applicants in order to determine whether they are suitable for the position. Depending on the job requirements, they may assess applicants’ cognitive abilities, psychomotor skills, personality, emotional intelligence, integrity, ability,
UNIT III STUDY GUIDE
Employee Assessment and Selection
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knowledge and skills, and/or vocational interests. When choosing what to assess, I/O psychologists consider the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics needed to perform the job well (Spector, 2012). While I/O psychologists may be involved in administering these assessments, they also do much of the foundational work to explore the validity of these measures, informing the field by publishing journal articles and research reports. An area that has received much attention from I/O psychologists is the use of personality measures to select employees. For example, personality tests are increasingly used to select police and safety workers (Miller & Barrett, 2008). A major issue is that personality is typically assessed through questionnaires, in which applicants answer questions related to their personality. Some personality traits, such as being conscientious and thorough, make it easy for applicants to determine how a good applicant should respond. Therefore, scores on personality measures often reflect what the applicant thinks the organization wants to see. Many applicants fake “good.” Researchers explore various ways to reduce this issue, to encourage applicants to answer truthfully. For example, in one study, researchers presented warnings to one group of applicants and no warning to a second group, and compared the results. The warning was as follows (Robson, Jones, & Abraham, 2008):
It is critical to note that the inventories have items which are designed to detect faking. Research has shown that these questions are able to identify individuals who provide inaccurate information about themselves. Any person who is detected faking will be eliminated from the applicant pool and will be ineligible to win the prize money.
Using research and statistical methods, they found that the warning did reduce overall scores in that group, compared to the other group. This gave some indication that it is possible to reduce this issue (Robson et al., 2008). Other studies show that, while it is easy to misrepresent one’s personality, this may not actually impact the predictive validity of these measures. However, the degree to which personality actually does predict job performance is an area that is still under exploration, as researchers continue to investigate the utility of these measures (Morgeson et al., 2007). Beyond assessment measures, I/O psychologists use a variety of approaches to assess the suitability of candidates. A common method includes the employment interview. Specifically, I/O psychologists advocate using a structured interview, in which the interviewer has a set of job-relevant questions that he or she asks each applicant. The questions should be asked in the same order, using the same wording, to ensure that the responses from applicants are comparable. This approach to interviewing may take more time and resources to develop than an unstructured interview, however studies show that these are more valid than unstructured interviews. This means that they are more likely to ensure that the best person for the job is identified. Organizations often ask for biographical data, which is specific information about the applicant’s past experiences and additional characteristics. These tend to predict future job performance. Work samples are another example of a form of assessment that I/O psychologists use for employee selection. This involves providing the necessary information and tools for the applicant to complete a relevant job task (Spector, 2012). Reliability and Validity Of key importance in employee selection is the degree to which selection tools are valid. Specifically, I/O psychologists assess the degree to which each selection tool actually predicts future job performance. For example, if using a personality measure to assess whether someone is sociable as part of a selection process for a sales position, there should be evidence that people who are sociable perform this job better than those who are not. If this is true, then knowing whether a current sales person is highly sociable should also tell you whether that person is a top salesperson in that store. This is called predictive validity, and I/O psychologists use a variety of methods to study the validity of selection measures, conducting validation studies prior to using these measures to make important decisions. This may involve administering the assessment measure to existing employees and comparing the scores to each employee’s performance appraisal ratings, for example (Spector, 2012). Another area that concerns I/O psychologists is the degree to which applicants view the selection tools as valid, or relevant to the position. This is referred to as face validity. A selection tool may have high predictive validity, however, if applicants think that the measure assesses something irrelevant, they could perceive selection decisions as unfair. Selection tools often involve asking questions or gathering information that is
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personal in nature, and if applicants get the impression that the measure is unnecessarily invasive, this could cause them to withdraw from the selection process and lose interest in the organization (Ekuma, 2012). Applicants tend to see certain approaches to selection, such as work samples, as relevant and valid, and these often tend to be good predictors of future job performance (Spector, 2012). Once a selection process is in place, organizations can recruit applicants for the position. Recruitment Recruitment involves identifying and communicating with potential applicants, who may be a good fit for the organization or for a specific position. The degree to which an organization needs to invest in recruitment strategies depends on the ease by which they are able to find suitable candidates. Organizations use different sources to recruit, including advertising, employee referral, employment agencies, school recruiters, walk-ins, and the internet (Spector, 2012). If a position is highly specialized or is a leadership position, for example, more targeted recruitment strategies can help ensure the best match is attained. The recruitment method has implications for how the employee will respond once on the job. For example, one study showed that during the first two years, employees may be more likely to leave the position voluntarily if they were recruited through formal methods, as opposed to through a personal referral to the position. This is because those who were recruited through a personal connection likely have a more realistic understanding of what the job entails and are not surprised by the demands or expectations of the position (Weller, Holtom, Matiaske, & Mellewigt, 2009). Regardless of the recruitment source, once individuals express interest in the position, the employee selection process begins. Summary I/O psychologists invest much time and resources into establishing effective and valid employee recruitment and selection approaches. They use scientific methods to explore the utility and limitations of assessment approaches. This helps organizations to choose the best assessment approaches needed for their particular positions. In addition to these goals of increasing predictive and face validity, scientific approaches to employee selection helps to ensure that applicants are treated fairly. If all applicants are assessed in the same, structured and systematic way, this leaves less opportunity for applicants to be rejected due to irrelevant factors, and it even prevents discrimination in the workplace by ensuring that all candidates are assessed in the same way, using the same job-relevant criteria (Spector, 2012).
References Barrick, M. R., & Zimmerman, R. D. (2009). Hiring for retention and performance. Human Resource
Management, 48(2), 183-206. Ehrhart, K. (2006). Job characteristic beliefs and personality as antecedents of subjective person–job fit.
Journal of Business & Psychology, 21(2), 193-226. Ekuma, K. (2012). The importance of predictive and face validity in employee selection and ways of
maximizing them: An assessment of three selection methods. International Journal Of Business & Management, 7(22), 115-122. Doi:10.5539/ijbm.v7n22p115
Griffeth, R. W., & Hom, P. W. (2001). Retaining valued employees. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Kristof-Brown, A. C. (2005). Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: A meta-analysis of person-job, person-
organization, person-group, and person-supervisor fit. Personnel Psychology, 58(2), 281-342. Miller, C. E., & Barrett, G. V. (2008). The coachability and fakability of personality-based selection tests used
for police selection. Public Personnel Management, 37(3), 339-351. Morgeson, F. P., Campion, M. A., Dipboye, R. L., Hollenbeck, J. R., Murphy, K., & Schmitt, N. (2007). Are we
getting fooled again? Coming to terms with limitations in the use of personality tests for personnel selection. Personnel Psychology, 60(4), 1029-1049. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00100.x
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Robson, S. M., Jones, A., & Abraham, J. (2008). Personality, faking, and convergent validity: a warning concerning warning statements. Human Performance, 21(1), 89-106. doi:10.1080/08959280701522155
Spector, P. E. (2012). Industrial and organizational behavior: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Suszko, M. K., & Breaugh, J. A. (1986). The effects of realistic job previews on applicant self-selection and
employee turnover, satisfaction, and coping ability. Journal Of Management, 12(4), 513. Sutarjo. (2011). Ten ways of managing person-organization fit (P-O Fit) effectively: A literature study.
International Journal Of Business & Social Science, 2(21), 226-233. Weller, I., Matiaske, W., Holtom, B. C., & Mellewigt, T. (2009). Level and time effects of recruitment sources
on early voluntary turnover. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 94(5), 1146-1162.
Suggested Reading Scroggins, W. A., Thomas, S. L., & Morris, J. A. (2008). Psychological testing in personnel selection, part II:
The refinement of methods and standards in employee selection. Public Personnel Management, 37(2), 185-198.