Why would we ever want to use something like social media profiles to inform selection decisions when there are much much more accurate ways to evaluate applicant skills and fit? One reason, we thought, might be due to the overwhelming number and type of selection tests available. The purpose of this article is to help deal with that clutter by presenting three of the most effective and universal employee selection tools along with the outcomes and specific requirements that you can expect when implementing each. Although no method will ever be without drawbacks, the key is to find the one that best fits your hiring strategy and can most easily be aligned with your existing processes and procedures.
The of the most effective, valid methods of employee selection will be described below in detail. They include:
- General Mental Ability
- Structured Interviews
- Situational Judgment Tests
1. GENERAL MENTAL ABILITY (GMA)
GMA (a.k.a., cognitive ability or g) is possibly the single most effective tool for selection. In fact, this approach is effective at predicting future performance in every type of job, at all job levels (from entry-level to CEO) and in every industry. GMA can be assessed in a variety of ways, from 30 minute paper and pencil tests like the Wonderlic, to more expensive online computer adaptive tests. Both computer and paper & pencil tests are equally valid, allowing organizations to select the approach that fits best.
The effects of adverse impact can be mitigated in several ways:
Additional Information on GMA:
2. STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS
These are not your standard interviews that start with “So tell me about yourself…” In structured or behaviorally-based interviews, applicants are asked a series of specific, predetermined, job-related questions while their responses are scored using detailed criteria (often presented in a scoring guide that provides detailed descriptions on what constitutes each rating). An “interview panel” approach is often used, where 2-3 trained managers ask the questions and score each response separately. After the interview, their ratings are compared to determine the consistency or interrater reliability. When responses are scored inconsistently, interviewers discuss their rationale and come to consensus.
Additional Information on Structured Interviews:
- Article. Adding Structure to Unstructured Interviews
- Reference Guide. A guide to Structured Interviews (.pdf guide from US Bureau of Human Resources)
3. SITUATIONAL JUDGMENT TESTS (SJT)
These tests have been described as the multiple-choice equivalent to structured interviews. In SJTs, applicants are asked to choose how they would respond to a variety of hypothetical situations that are relevant to the target job. Results indicate how that particular applicant will behave when faced with particular situations and decisions. The ability of this method to predict how applicants will respond to complicated decisions makes SJTs one of the best approaches for managerial and technical positions.
WHAT ABOUT COMBINING THESE METHODS?
YES! It is important to note that combining more than one instrument or method can greatly improve the predictive validity of your hiring process. For example, combining GMA tests with structured interviews will be much more effective than using either of them alone. Also, using any of these three methods would be better than evaluating applicant resumes and giving unstructured interviews or non-validated off-the-shelf tests.
There are countless tools, methods, and approaches to making good selection decisions. However, according to decades of applied organizational research the ones described above are the most successful, accessible methods for finding those diamonds in the rough. It is important to note that other valid methods were intentionally left out: Assessment Centers were not described because they are not a realistic approach for many jobs and organizations.
We have designed, developed, and validated selection processes for numerous public and private clients over the years. To leave you, reader, with a final thought, we have found that when job analyses are used a foundation to develop (or select appropriate off-the-shelf) selection tests, they pay off big in terms of improved performance, productivity, environment, and retention.
Christian, M. S., Edwards, B. D., & Bradley, J. C. (2010). Situational judgment tests: Constructs assessed and a meta-analysis of their criterion-related validities. Personnel Psychology, 63, 83-117.
Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J.E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 262-274.
Gatewood, R. D., Feild, H. S., & Barrick, M. (2011). Human Resource Selection (7th ed.), South-Western Publishing.