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Personnel Selection

What is selection?
Using scientific methodology to choose one alternative (job candidate) over another.
Job Analysis Measurement Statistics

Why is selection important?

Decreases the likelihood of hiring bad employees Increases the likelihood that people will be treated fairly when hiring decisions are made
Reduces discrimination Reduces likelihood of discrimination lawsuits

What do I/O psychologists need to know about selection?

How to select predictors of job performance (criteria problem) How to accurately indentify and validate predictors for specific jobs (job analysis)
Rely on cognitive and personality variables

How to reliably and validly measure these predictors How to use these predictors to make selection decisions

Criteria - standards used to judge the quality Criterion of (discriminate among) alternatives. deficiency For I/O psychologists, this means judging the quality of employees, programs, Criterion relevance and units in the organization.
Actual Criterion
Criterion contamination
Measures that act as proxies Abstract concept or idea

Conceptual Criterion

Illegal Criteria
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits using selection practices that have an unequal impact on members of a different:
Race Color Sex Religion National Origin

Types of Illegal Discrimination

Disparate Treatment (Opportunities)
Discrimination decisions based on one of five prohibited categories

Disparate Impact (Outcomes)

Illegal discrimination is any practice (without a business justification) that has unequal consequences for members of protected groups.

Roger Parloff, Fortune senior editor:

Though disparate treatment and disparate impact cases are both aimed at eradicating the same thing, there is potential tension between them.
The goal of disparate treatment cases is to guarantee every worker equal opportunity, but not equal outcomes. The focus of disparate impact cases is on equal outcomes.

If one pursues equal outcomes too single-mindedly, one can compromise the principle of equal opportunity by inducing the use of quotas.

Determining Disparate Impact

The 4/5ths Rule
100 male applicants

Disparate impact occurs if the selection ratio formales selected group is less than 4/5ths of 20 any minority 50 * .16 = 8 the selection ratio of the majority group
20/100 = .20
.20 * 4/5ths(.80) = .16 At least 8 females should be selected

50 female applicants

At least 16% of people from minority group should be selected using a given procedure.

Reliable and valid predictors of job performance. All criteria suffer from:
Deficiency Contamination Objective Subjective
These labels can be misleading

Criteria typically classified as:

There are several illegal criteria There are two types of illegal discrimination
Disparate treatment Disparate impact

When selecting new employees, I/O psychologists use criteria that will identify effective on-the-job performance
Performance = (KSA)*Motivation Situational Constraints

Choosing Predictors of Job Performance

Performance is a function of the following:

Knowledge Skills Abilities Motivation Situational Constraints

Job Analysis
the tasks that are performed
type of work tools used working conditions

human qualities (KSAOs or competencies) needed to perform the work

Tells us what tasks people do and the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to accomplish those tasks.

Types of Job Analysis

Job-Oriented Job components (for a carpenter)
Duty: construct houses Task: build kitchen cabinets Activity: assemble cabinets Element: drill holes

Person-Oriented KSAOs (for a carpenter)

Knowledge: Have information to do a task Skill: Practiced act or behavior. Ability: Stable capacity to do task. Other personal characteristics: personality, interests, etc.

Examples Of KSAOs For Different Occupations

Job Knowledge Skill Ability Other Personal Characteristics Willingness to work long hours


Constitutional rights

Writing clearly



Surgical procedures

Drawing blood

Remain calm in a crisis

Lack of squeamishness in the sight of blood

Willingness to get dirty Willingness to risk personal safety


Pipe design

Soldering joints Writing clearly

Hand-eye coordination Vigilence



Knowledge of legal arrest procedures

Data Collection Approaches


Who do you collect data from? Subject Matter Experts -incumbent -supervisor -co-worker

critical incidents

Observation Analyst does work

Hiring the Best

Job: Firefighter What are the major duties of a college professor? What tasks are performed to complete each duty Develop a set of KSAOs necessary for these tasks.
should be useable for recruiting and evaluating

Challenges? What other information would you want? How would you get it?

Any variable used to forecast a criterion Issues
Quality (Reliability & Validity) Types
Psychological Tests & Inventories Interviews Assessment Centers Work Samples & Situational Exercises Biodata Peer Assessment Letters of Recommendation

Biographical Data
Good questions are about events that are:
historical external discrete controllable (by the individual) verifiable equal access job relevant non-invasive (Mael, 1991)

Rationale vs. empirical method

Biographical Data
Strong criterion validity
drug use, criminal history predicts dysfunctional police behavior (Sarchione et al., 1998) not redundant with personality (McManus & Kelly, 1999)

Measurement issues
Generalizability Faking Fairness Privacy concerns

Structured vs. Unstructured Info. gathering vs. interpersonal behavior sample Situational interview
How would you handle a circumstance in which you needed the help of a person you did not like?

Measurement issues
structured has more criterion related validity value of unstructured? Illusion of validity

Guidelines for structured interviews

interviewer should know about job interviewer should NOT have prior info about interviewee individual ratings of dimensions AFTER the interview is over

Work Samples
perform a task under standardized conditions historically were for blue collar jobs
e.g. use of tools, demonstrate driving skills

white collar examples

speech interview for foreign worker, test of basic chemistry knowledge,

Measurement issues
high criterion validity if skills are similar to job costly to administer work best with mechanical, rather than peopleoriented tasks

Assessment Centers
Realistic tasks done in groups Assessed by multiple of raters rating multiple domains Multiple methods
in basket group exercise leaderless group exercise

Strong criterion validity (e.g., teachers, police)

overall scores predict job performance

Measurement issues
costly to administer different ratings on a task too highly correlated dimension ratings not correlated strongly across tasks fix? focus on behavior checklists and rater training

Drug Testing
opinion? People are more accepting of it if job involves risks to others (Paronto, et al., 2002) Measurement issues
reliability is very high, but not perfect Validity?
Normands, Salyards, & Mahoney (1990)
over 5000 postal service applicants those who tested positive had 59% higher absenteeism, 47% more likely to be fired no differences in injury or accidents

Letters of Recommendation
ever written a letter of recommendation for someone? worst criterion validity of all commonly used assessment tools
some use for screening extremely bad candidates

Measurement issues
restriction of range writer bias/investment

Psychological Test Characteristics

Group vs. individual Objective vs. open-ended Paper & pencil vs. performance Power vs. speed

Psychological Test Types

Ability Tests
Cognitive ability Psychomotor ability

Knowledge and skill or achievement Integrity Personality Emotional Intelligence Vocational interest

Integrity Tests
Designed to predict whether employee will engage in counterproductive work behavior (CWB)
overt vs. personality (covert)

Better at predicting general CWB and performance than theft (r = .30 -.40) Measurement issues
difficult to measure criteria! proprietary issues (have to pay for them) legal and privacy issues faking

Personality Tests
measures predispositions toward particular feelings and behaviors not all tests are based on past research many have shown incremental validity
e.g., predict when controlling for IQ

Measurement issues
job relevance not easily/often faked or a problem if faked (e.g., job faking too)

The Big Five Inventory

Highs: imaginative, creative, and to seek out cultural and educational experiences. Lows: more down-to-earth, less interest in art & more practical.

Highs: methodical, well organized and dutiful. Lows: less careful, less focused & more likely to be distracted

Highs: energetic and seek out the company of others. Lows (introverts): tend to be more quiet and reserved.

Highs: tend to be trusting, friendly and cooperative. Lows: tend to be more aggressive and less cooperative

Highs: prone to insecurity and emotional distress. Lows: more relaxed, less emotional and less prone to distress.

Intelligence Tests
Have greatest validity Often very easy and inexpensive to use
Wonderlic Personnel Test
50 items 12 minute time limit Sample questions Interpreting scores?

Scores vary as a function of race and ethnicity

Ethical issues? Face validity?

Determining Test Utility

Goal of testing is to make decisions about individuals on the basis of the amount of a given trait they possess. A test should give us a true picture of a persons traits Test Score = True Score + Error

Reliability and Validity

Test-retest Parallel (Alternate) forms Internal Consistency

Face Content Criterion-related Construct-related

Predictive Validity for Overall Job Performance of General Mental Ability Scores Combined With a Second Predictor Gain in validity from supplement

Selection Method GMA tests Work sample tests Integrity tests Conscientiousness tests Employment interviews (structured) Employment interviews (unstructured) Job knowledge tests Job tryout procedure Reference checks Job experience Biographical data Assessment centers Interests

Validity .51 .54 .41 .31 .51 .38 .48 .44 .26 .18 .35 .37 .10

GMA + supplement

% increase in validity

.6 3 .65 .60 .63 .55 .58 .58 .57 .54 .52 .53 .52

.12 .14 .09 .12 .01 .07 .07 .06 .03 .01 .02 .01

24% 27% 18% 24% 08% 14% 14% 14% 06% 02% 04% 02%






Predictive Validity for Overall Performance in Job Scores Combined With a Second Predictor

Training Programs of General Mental Ability Gain in validity from supplement

Selection Method GMA tests Integrity tests Conscientiousness tests

Validity .56 .38 .30 .35 .23 .01 .30 .18

GMA + supplement

% increase in validity

.67 .65 .59 .61 .56 .56 .59

.11 .09 .03 .05 .00 .00 .03

20 % 16% 05% 09% 00% 00% 05%

Employment interviews (structured & unstructured)

Reference checks Job experience Biographical data Interests

Factors Influencing Selection Quality

Three factors influence selection quality
Predictor validity Selection ratio Base rate

Selection Decisions
sr = .50 = .25 sr True r =.60 =1.00 Positives False Negatives

False Positives

Successful Performance
br = .50

True Negatives

Unsuccessful Performance



Predictor Score

Effect of Selection Ratio on Predictor Utility

sr =.95 sr =.50 sr =.10

r =.40

Selection Cutoff Score


Predictor Score

Effect of Predictor Validity on Predictor Utility

sr =.50

r =.40 =.00 =.80

Selection Cutoff Score

Predictor Score

Selection Strategies
3 Basic Strategies
Multiple Regression
Assumes relationships between predictors and criterion are linear Assumes having a lot of one attribute compensates for having little of another

Multiple Cutoff
Applicants must achieve a set, minimum score on all predictors

Multiple Hurdle
Applicants must achieve satisfactory scores on a number of predictors that are administered over time.