Selection is a long process, commencing from the preliminary interview of the applicants and ending with the contract of employment. In practice, the process differs among organisations and between two different jobs within the same company. Selection procedure for senior managers will be long-drawn and rigorous, but it is simple and short while hiring shop-floor workers.
Selection is influenced by several factors. More prominent among them are supply and demand of specific skills in the labor market, unemployment rate, labor-market conditions, legal and political considerations, company’s image, company’s policy, HRP, and cost of hiring. The last three constitute the internal environment and the remaining form the external environment of the selection process.
Applications received from job seekers would be subject to scrutiny so as to eliminate unqualified applicants. This is usually followed by a preliminary interview the purpose of which is more or less the same as scrutiny of applications, that is, elimination of unqualified applications. Scrutiny enables the HR specialists to eliminate unqualified job seekers based on the information supplied in their application forms. Preliminary interview, on the other hand, helps reject misfits for reasons, which did not appear in the application forms. Besides, preliminary interview, often called ‘courtesy interview’, is a good public relations exercise.
Job seekers who pass the screening and the preliminary interview are called for tests. Different types of tests may be administered, depending on the job and the company. Generally, tests are used to determine the applicant’s ability, aptitude and personality.
Ability tests (also called achievement tests) assist in determining how well an individual can perform tasks related to the job. An excellent illustration of this is the data entry test given to a prospective employee for a secretarial job. An aptitude test helps determine a person’s potential to learn in a given area. An example of such a test is the General Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) which many business students take prior to gaining admission to a graduate business school programme.
Personality tests are given to measure a prospective employee’s motivation to function in a particular working environment.
There are various tests designed to assess a candidate’s personality. The Bernsenter Personality inventory, for example. measures’s one’s self-sufficiency, neurotic tendency, sociability, introversion and extroversion, locus of control, and self-confidence. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) assesses an individual’s achievement and motivational levels. Other personality tests, such as the California Psychological Inventory (CPI), the Thurstone Temperament Survey (ITS), Minnesota Multiphasic Personality (MMPI), and Guilford-Zimmerman Temperament Survey, have been designed to assess specific personality traits.
Interest tests are used to measure an individual’s activity preferences. These tests are particularly useful for students considering many careers or employees deciding upon career changes.
Graphology test is designed to analyze the handwriting of an individual. It has been said that an individual’s handwriting can suggest the degree of energy, inhibitions and spontaneity. as well disclose the idiosyncrasies, and elements of balance and control. For example, big letters and emphasis on capital letters indicate a tendency towards domination and competitiveness. A slant to the right, moderate pressure and good legibility show leadership potential. Employers usually consult graphologists to supplement their usual personnel recruitment procedure.
Polygraph tests (polygraph is a lie detector) are designed to ensure accuracy of the information given in the applications. Department stores, banks, treasury offices and jewellery shops – that is those highly vulnerable to theft or swindling- may find polygraph tests useful.
Medical tests reveal physical fitness of a candidate. With the development of technology, medical tests have become diversified. Drug tests help measure the presence of illegal or performance-affecting drugs. Genetic screening identifies genetic predispositions to specific medical problems. Medical Servicing helps measure and monitor a candidate’s physical resilience upon exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Tests must be chosen based on the criteria of reliability, validity, objectivity and standardization.
Reliability refers to standardization of the procedure of administering and scoring the test results.
A person who takes a test one day and makes a certain score should be able to take the same the next day or the next week and make more or less the same score.
Validity is a test which helps predict whether a person will be successful in a given job. A test that has been validated can be helpful in differentiating between prospective employees who will be able to perform the job well and those who will not. Naturally, no test will be 100 percent accurate in predicting job success. A validated test increases possibility of success.
The next step in the selection process is employment interview. An interview is conducted at the beginning and at the end of the selection process. Interview is a formal, in-depth conversation conducted to evaluate the applicant’s acceptability. It is considered to be an excellent selection device. Its popularity stems from its flexibility. Interview can be adapted to unskilled, skilled, managerial and professional employees. It allows a two-way exchange of information, the interviewers learn about the applicant, and the applicant learns about the employer.
However, interviews do have shortcomings. Absence of reliability is one limitation. No two interviewers offer similar scoring after interviewing an applicant. Lack of validity is another limitation. This is because, few departments use standardized questions upon which validation studies can be conducted. Finally, biases of interviewers may cloud the objectivity of interviews
The employment interview can be (i) one-to-one (ii) sequential, or (iii) panel.
In the one-to-one interview, there are only two participants-the interviewer and the interviewee.
The sequential interview takes the one-to-one step further and involves a series of interviews, usually utilizing the strength and knowledge base of each interviewer, so that each interviewer can ask questions in relation to his or her subject area of each candidate, as the candidate moves from room to room.
The panel interview consists of two or more interviewers and the figure may go upto as many as 15. Any panel interview is less intimate and more formal than the one-to-one, but if handled and organised well, it can provide a wealth of information.
Reference and Background Checks
Many employers request names, addresses, and telephone numbers or references for the purpose of verifying information and, perhaps, gaining additional background information on an applicant. Although listed on the application form, references are not usually checked until an applicant has successfully reached the fourth stage of a sequential selection process. When the labor market is very tight, firms sometimes hire applicants before checking references.
Previous employers, known public figures, university professors, neighbors or friends can act as references. Previous employers are preferable because they are already aware of the applicant’s performance. But, the problem with this reference is the tendency on the part of the previous employers to over-rate the applicant’s performance just to get rid of the person.
Reference checks cover the following:
• Criminal record checks
• Previous employment check
• Educational record checks
• Credit record checks
• Civil record checks
• Union affiliation checks
• Character reference check
• Neighborhood reference check
Reference checks serve two important purposes. One purpose is to gain insight about the potential employee from the people who have had previous experience with him or her. This is a good practice considering the fact that between 20 to 25 per cent of job applicants there is at least one fraudster.
The second purpose for reference checks is to assess the potential success of a prospect. Who else can give an objective assessment of an individual than his or her previous employer or a person known to him or her?
After obtaining information through the preceding steps, selection decision-the most critical of all the steps-must be made. The other stages in the selection process have been used to narrow the number of candidates. The final decision has to be made from the pool of individuals who pass the tests, interviews and reference checks.
The views of the line manager will be generally considered in the final selection because it is he/she who is responsible for the performance of the new employee. The HR manager plays a crucial role in the final selection.
After the selection decision and before the job offer is made, the candidate is required to undergo a physical fitness test. A job offer is, often, contingent upon the candidate being declared fit after the physical examination. The results of the medical fitness test are recorded in a statement and are preserved in the personnel records. There are several objectives behind a physical test.
Obviously, one reason for a physical test is to detect if the individual carries any infectious diseases.
Second, the test assists in determining whether an applicant is physically fit to perform the work.
Third, the physical examination information may be used to determine if there are certain physical capabilities which differentiate successful and less successful employees.
Fourth, medical check-up protects applicants with health defects from undertaking work that could be detrimental to themselves or might otherwise endanger the employer’s properly.
Finally, such an examination will protect the employer from workers’ compensation claims that are not valid because the injuries or illnesses were present when the employee was hired.
The next step in the selection process is job offer to those applicants who have crossed all the previous hurdles. Job offer is made through a letter of appointment. Such a letter generally contains a date by which the appointee must report on duty. The appointee must be given reasonable time for reporting. This is particularly necessary when he or she is already in employment, in which case the appointee is required to obtain a relieving certificate from the previous employer. Again, a new job may require movement to another city which means considerable preparation and movement of property.
The company may also want the individual to delay the date of reporting on duty. If the new employee’s first job upon joining the company is to go on training, the firm may request that the individual delays joining the company until perhaps a week before such training begins. Naturally, this practice cannot be abused, especially if the individual is unemployed and does not have sufficient finances.
Contracts of Employment
After the job offers have been made and the candidates accept the offers, certain documents need to be executed by the employers and the candidates. One such document is the attestation form. This form contains certain vital details about the candidate which are authenticated and attested by him/ her. Attestation form will be a valid record for future reference. The basic information that should be included in a written contract of employment will vary according to the level of the job.
Concluding the Selection Process
Contrary to popular perception, the selection process will not end with executing the employment contract. There is another step-a more sensitive one – reassuring those candidates who have not been selected. Such candidates must be told that they were not selected, not because of any serious deficiencies in their personalities, but because their profiles did not match the requirements of the company. They must be told that those who were selected were done purely on relative merit.
Yet another development has taken place – a development that has become a serious concern for HR managers. The issue relates to ‘No Shows’ by selected candidates. These are the individuals who pass through the selection rigor, receive employment offers, but fail to report to duties. Every competent individual sits on multiple job offers, picks up one and disappoints the remaining employers.
‘No Shows’ is the consequence of ever increasing job offers. Too many jobs are chasing too few competent people. The rate of ‘No Shows’ is alarming- ranging from 20 to 50 per cent.
No shows cost money. Most senior level searches take anywhere between four to seven months from getting the mandate to finalizing the candidate. The search firms get aid by companies at different stages of selection process. When the candidate backs out, it means starting all over again – time as well as cost overruns for the companies and search firms. It is additional cost for the companies and for the search firms, it is loss of face, business and trust.
Evaluation of Selection Program
The broad test of the effectiveness of the selection process is the quality of the personnel hired. A firm must have competent and committed personnel. The selection process, if properly done, will ensure availability of such employees. How to evaluate the effectiveness of a selection program? A periodic audit is the answer. Audit must be conducted by people who work independent of the HR department.