As the company becomes bigger, the recruitment of new staff members might become a challenge for the management. Applicants for a particular position should be properly evaluated to make sure that their actual competence and character fully match their working aspirations. For detecting unwanted personality traits and lack of professionalism, employers nowadays turn to specific applicant assessment techniques (Cook, 2016). This paper aims to present an overview of the most common methods used in employee selection today and provide relevant information related to the validity, effectiveness, and applicability of those methods.
Most Commonly Used Application Assessment Methods
The candidates’ assessment process is a set of procedures conducted to choose the most knowledgeable, productive, and suitable person for a job. Although employers today resort to a large number of different techniques during an applicant selection, there are certainly some of them, which are more commonly used. According to Cook, there are six basic methods in an application assessment, which are divided by the way the employer obtains information about the potential employee: self-report, reported, demonstrated (test), demonstrated (behavioral), recorded, involuntary (2016). Procedures that are used by HR managers in the process of a candidate screening usually fall into one of these broad categories.
Self-report includes all kinds of application forms, interviews as well as a person’s CV and biography. Along with many advantages, such as a demonstratively trusting stance of an employer towards an employee and easy access to the information needed, Cook (2016)mentions conspicuous drawbacks of this method. First, the information provided to the recruiter generally seems to be unverifiable. Second, employers have to take coaching factors into account: with the help of career advisers, job-seekers know exactly what they have to say or write to make a favorable impression. The method of using reported information is different because this time, the information at focus is provided not by the applicant him/herself but by the outsiders (most likely the previous employers of a person).
Arguably, the most plausible results might be obtained through the use of demonstrative methods–test-solving and situational task management. Although these types of assessments were primarily used as proof of skill and knowledge of the candidate (work sample or ability testing), it is nowadays more and more common to conduct written personality tests or situational behavioral tests. Georgiou and Nikolaou (2020) also argue that the demonstrative (behavioral) method with included game elements is generally preferred by the participants as they associate such candidate selection process with “predictive validity and fairness” (p. 1). While traditional paper testing appears to be a more effective and objective estimation of the applicant’s professional competence, gamified behavioral tests create a more positive response from the employees and increase the overall attractiveness of the company.
All the pieces of information about the candidate that shows his or her previous account fall under the category of “recorded”: academic record at school, published works, and professional certificates. The last method (involuntary) implies the research of the information directly related to the applicant that he or she has no intention of showing to the HR manager or has no control over (Cook, 2016). In this case, the employer can enjoy a wide range of opportunities from rather mild ones (like graphology or taking a peek into a social network account of an applicant) to more intrusive.
Applicant Assessment Process: Reliability, Validity, and Efficiency
Although all the methods highlighted above have their advantages, none of them can guarantee that the highest-ranked candidate will become the most productive worker in reality. Relying solely on a resume puts employers in a precarious position when they are unable to ascertain the level of truth in the paper. At the same time, demonstrative methods can present a distorted view of the worker’s professional skills due to the stressfulness of the situation and the candidate’s nervousness.
Reliability in the assessment process can be reached only using combining different methods and regarding their results as an entity. Cook (2020) states that the more methods were used, the more accurate view the employer would get, thus reducing the error of measurement. This view is particularly well reflected in this passage (Cook, 2020): “where supervisor ratings have more than one scale, covering more than one aspect of work performance, internal consistency can be calculated” (p. 27). Similarly, the validity of the process can be secured: testing should contain only the questions or tasks that correlate to the prediction or assessment of the applicant’s working performance and be suitable for cross-validation. Valid selection expertise should also contain elements of so-called incremental validity – a phenomenon when a particular method provides such evidence that helps to predict the result of usage of other methods (Cook, 2020). Differential validity, on the other hand, is usually avoided as it distorts the results for some groups of people. There is also a mythical validity – when testing is perceived by candidates as valid for the reason of being popular and broadly advertised.
The effectiveness of the assessment process is directly linked to the level of objectiveness and qualifications of the examiner as well as to the spectrum of tools they are using. Specialists nowadays advise relying not on one but on a group of specialists and a combination of assessment methods to increase the effectiveness of the candidate selection process (Isson & Harriot, 2016). Thus, proper applicant evaluation with a high chance of recruiting a suitable person demands resources from the company both in specialists and in money.
Applicant Assessment Methods: Legality and Applicability
Some selection methods might be better avoided as they are balancing on the brink of legality. Cook (2016) reports that in some countries, mental ability tests are not widely used because of “legal worries” (p. 22). Sometimes employers violate applicants’ right to privacy, which can also be a reason for the initiation of legal proceedings. For example, a company may check classified criminal records of their applicants with the help of their employees – former police officers. However, it is not legal but ethical issues that appear to be most common today.
Another problem with different assessment methods is their applicability to different professions. However, some ways of screening the candidate are much more preferable in one area and less preferable in another. The most beneficial pre-employment assessment requires the consideration of the major professional challenges. If this condition is met, in theory, specialists should adequately assess the candidate for counseling service (emotional intelligence tests) and firefighting (physical ability tests) alike. Nevertheless, jobs with much social interaction and leadership involved enticing people to misrepresent themselves by giving fake answers. For that reason, professions like firefighters, plumbers, or dentists (which require relatively measurable accurate skill) can benefit more from pre-employment assessment than the ones where personality traits are valued.
Employment assessment methods are created to filter the best candidate for a specific job. It should also be noted that all methods of personnel evaluation have one significant drawback: they are not fully objective. Much in the process depends on random factors, such as the psychological state of the examiners, the applicant’s mood, inappropriate testing. To smooth chance factor out and find the most effective applicant in a group of mediocre ones, an employer should consider using the whole complexity of methods at his disposal.
Cook, M. (2016). Personnel selection: Adding value through people – a changing picture. John Wiley & Sons.
Georgiou, K., & Nikolaou, I. (2020). Are applicants in favor of traditional or gamified assessment methods? Exploring applicant reactions towards a gamified selection method. Computers in Human Behavior, 106356, 1-4. Web.
Isson, J. P.,&Harriot J. S. (2016). Peopleanalytics in the era of big data: Changing the way you attract, acquire, develop, and retain talent. John Wiley & Sons.