Human Resources Recruitment and Selection

One essential human resources management task is to make sure the organization is properly staffed. It means that the organization should take into account diversity management principles and cultural changes, equal employment opportunities laws, and discrimination laws. When done effectively, the staffing, recruitment and selection process provides a flow of qualified individuals for filling open positions within the organization on a timely and efficient basis. However, when done poorly, the staffing process can result in delays, excessive costs, poor matches between worker skills and job requirements, turnover, and legal challenges. Planning and controlling the staffing and selection process is a vital means by which organizational productivity can be improved.

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Once a decision is made to staff an open position, the issue is to find someone to fill it. The process of finding and attracting qualified applicants is the heart of the recruiting process. Using recruiting methods that are cost-effective, timely, and compliant with laws and regulations is essential to the success of any recruiting effort. Often, as part of the recruiting process, there is a tendency on the recruiter’s part to glamorize the job and organization to secure the applicant’s interest in joining (Armstrong and Baron 92).

Interestingly enough, though, research in this area suggests that such unrestrained recruiting exuberance may backfire, because the applicant’s expectations about what it will be like to work there will be too high and that can lead to a dispirited employee ready to leave after “reality shock” sets in. The recommended governer to this tendency is a procedure called a realistic job preview ( Wanous, 1980). The processes of staffing and recruiting should be considered in terms of how those processes impact the composition of the workforce eventually hired.

Many organizations are obligated to comply with equal employment and affirmative action (AA) requirements so that certain classes of people–especially minority members, women, and disabled individuals–are not discriminated against in hiring practices. Findings of unlawful employment discrimination can lead to costs in court settlements, bad publicity, and employee ill will (Armstrong and Baron 72).

Once applicants for positions have been attracted to the organization, they must be evaluated and assessed in terms of their relative fitness for assuming the duties of the open position. There are a variety of selection devices that can be used for this purpose. By far the most common selection device is the personal interview. In this intentional conversation, the interviewer supposedly gathers sufficient information about the applicant to render an assessment of the person’s qualifications (Bateman and Snell 92) Although this procedure sounds logical and appropriate, the only problem is that the typical “unstructured” interview often is not as effective a predictor of future job performance as would be expected.

In Interviewing Two Applicants for the Job, you observe a learning experiment in which a manager interviews two applicants for an open position. There are a variety of other, more effective selection devices available for selecting job applicants. These methods include work samples, paper and pencil tests, assessment centers, structured interviews, and biodata (Schuler 32). Generally, these methods require the applicant to demonstrate the skills and abilities necessary for successful job performance. These various selection devices can be used in combination. Indeed, one of the challenges facing a staffing manager is not only to pick a selection device(s) but also to arrange for the most cost-effective result.

In the assignment Staffing a Greenfield Automotive Plant, you have the opportunity to design a comprehensive selection plan for a “start-up” manufacturing plant. The skills and talents specifications for this situation are rather unique and specialized, though. As a result, the selection process could be more complicated than that found in typical experience (Schuler 75).

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Affirmative Action at Developmental Systems Corporation provides a detailed review of the hiring practices at Developmental Systems Corporation (DSC). As a federal contractor, DSC must prepare an affirmative action plan describing its progress in employing minorities and women (Reed 101).

Managers will look through the information to determine whether there are any concerns that DSC should address and if so, to recommend responses to those conditions as part of the creation of an affirmative action plan for DSC. Providing the talent needed to perform the work of the organization is a critical human resources task. These exercises provide several illustrations of the difficulties and opportunities throughout this process (Rosow and Casner-Lotto 52).

In general, under the law, a person may perform work for another by occupying one of two roles: employee or independent contractor. If the person works as an employee, he or she receives a salary or wages from which income taxes are withheld. The employer is obligated to provide benefit and insurance payments for Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workman’s compensation (Reed 141). Further, the employer would generally be required to pay a minimum wage and overtime. In addition, if other benefits are offered, the employee should be eligible for those benefits, also. If the person works as an independent contractor, however, the person is not entitled to those various benefits and requirements.

Independent contractors are not covered by safety, labor, or discrimination laws. In general, an independent contractor is seen as having an independent occupation over which the person exercises control in the performance of the job. The buyer of these services either accepts or rejects the finished product and pays a fee for that result. Because of the payroll tax implications, the Internal Revenue Service has established various factors for judging whether the person has either employee or independent contractor status (Reed 181).

The availability of talent for promotion inside the branches is less than adequate for the number of positions that open up. As a result, many positions must be filled through external recruitment. The personnel area indicates that the time and expense needed to recruit and hire from outside the bank are becoming high. Further, hiring outside for assistant manager and manager positions means that the people selected are not fully productive until they learn Howard National methods, products, and procedures (Heene and Sanchez 72).

The assessment of the supply of talent available to an organization as projected into the future is the companion piece of this second phase of human resources planning. Here, the current employee population of the organization is inventoried to determine how well the supply can meet the demand. Together, demand and supply forecasting is sometimes referred to as manpower planning (Heene and Sanchez 32).

Staffing refers to the recruitment, assessment, selection, and socialization of new organizational members. There are analogous requirements at the team level. Team size, task demands, and composition considerations play an important role in team staffing. The recruitment and integration of new team members will have a profound impact on team processes and team culture as well. Start-ups represent a unique opportunity to approach the design of the team and the selection of its members in a systematic manner (Heene and Sanchez 28). As such, much of the wisdom for theory and practice might be brought to bear, subject to constraints of time and resources.

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The work to be done by the newly formed team can be analyzed relative to its set of the individual member and team-level worker requirements. Candidates can be considered not only relative to their assignments but also with due attention to how they would fit together and complement one another. Indeed, team members may be identified based on their social skills and social networks, with resulting benefits. Also important, team members may have a substantial impact on their closest collaborators.

Companies often call on executive search firms to recruit external managers. These firms’ search techniques have evolved over four generations. Search consultants initially relied on personal contacts within exclusive networks (the old boys’ network). They later supplemented these methods with published secondary sources and circulation lists of select companies and alumni. Most modern search firms use third-generation research.

They cross-check sources in various published and online directories, telephone existing contacts, and make cold calls (Heene and Sanchez 249). Some recruiters also engage in notorious trade practices like black market purchases and sales of employee directories. Another tactic is using: the recruiter calls a company pretending to be someone else to glean information about employees. Fourth-generation executive search techniques are strongly technology-driven and include Web searching processes. With electronic tools, recruiters can search faster and cover a broader market (Heene and Sanchez 128).

Electronic recruiting is pitting traditional search firms against upstart Web-based companies, which are extending their reach to executives at the six-figure income level. Some job boards have hired executive recruiters to help them expand (Campbell et al 82). This business and major search firms have launched their Internet ventures. Executive search firms and Internet career sites could eventually merge to form one-stop hiring agencies offering integrated services—from job analysis through recruiting, screening, assessment, and matching candidates to organizational positions. Such agencies would make deep inroads into areas where I/O psychologists have staked a claim (Heene and Sanchez 39).

Internal human resource departments also use the Internet to recruit executives. For example, Motorola recently advertised on the Web for over thirty executive positions at the director level and above (Campbell et al 62). Companies are tempted to bypass executive search firms because of their cost; recruiters typically get one-third of a placed executive’s first-year cash compensation, plus expenses associated with the search.

Alternatively, the newcomer may be identified and selected based on some perceived need for change or the transformation of the team. In either event, the adjustment of the newcomer and to the newcomer will be strongly affected by the conditions under which the team position became open (for example, through resignation, death, promotion, or termination). Under most scenarios, the team manager will have a central role in recruiting and selecting team members (Campbell and Goold 52).

Internal executive recruiting is often linked to succession planning programs. Companies traditionally instituted formal succession plans to target necessary training and development, increase opportunities for high-potential workers, and increase the talent pool of promotable employees. The fast-paced new economy has created even more potent incentives. Managers surveyed by Development Dimensions International (DDI) cited improving business results, expansion and growth, and new skill requirements to satisfy business demands as the primary challenges driving the need for a good succession management system (Becker, 1993).

Traditional replacement planning depended on a stable organizational structure, fixed jobs, and progressive vertical movement, conditions that are rapidly disappearing with the accelerated pace of change. Today detailed replacement charts are overly rigid and long-term stair-step career plans unrealistic. Only at the very top of the organization is their real payoff for defining specific people as backups. Proposed as an alternatives are talent or acceleration pools that assume a fluid organizational structure, expect jobs to change, and use both horizontal and vertical movements as development opportunities (Schuler 72).

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Aptitude tests met with pervasive criticism in the 1970s because they discriminated against groups protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result, psychologists put increased emphasis on validation and job relatedness and searched for substitute measures of thinking and reasoning. Aptitude testing was, however, a good fit for selection systems in the old economy. The highest scorers were the best performers on structured jobs, and mechanical scoring methods eliminated subjectivity (Schuler 66). Aptitude-testing approaches are less satisfactory in the more fluid and dynamic new economy. Organizations want to select people who are compatible with each other, meet strategy requirements, and fit into the organizational culture. Such selection decisions engender deliberation and negotiation among managers.

As organizations moved toward strategic staffing, they veered away from paper-and-pencil tests and toward assessment centers, where managers can observe interpersonal dynamics and have an opportunity to debate which candidate to select (Schuler 60).

Managerial selection methods, including the assessment center, have historically concentrated on those in lower and middle management. However, assessors’ evaluations of the same participants eight years after their first assessment showed stronger relationships with advancement because of the additional managerial experience and development they had accrued in the interim. In the interest of both fairness and accuracy, a better practice is to assess senior-level candidates close in time to their potential appointment with measures designed to elicit behavior required at the target level (Schuler 61).

Rigorous assessment, deemed essential to succession management programs, requires multiple measures and methods to capture the range and complexity of senior leadership positions. These techniques can extract and exploit evidence about the past, present, and future. Biographical data, performance evaluations, references, and behavior-based interviews summarize past behavior, assuming it will forecast future behavior.

Cognitive tests and personality inventories represent existing capacity and inclination; their contribution rests more in identifying what underlies an individual’s approach to tasks or assignments. Situational interviews and simulations make projections about the future—that is, how the person is likely to approach a new situation. Future measures are essential when a new position will differ significantly from one tackled in the past (Schuler 55).

Biographical information serves as an important early screen for knowledge and experiences that prepare the person for a particular position. Unfortunately, the prevalence of résumé inflation, reported by more than one-quarter of executives and human resource specialists surveyed by the Ward Howell executive search firm, diminishes the value of biodata. Internal candidates’ biographical data should be considerably more accurate, at least for experiences in the current organization (Heene and Sanchez 192).

Traditional performance appraisals, particularly when tied to salary increases, are often bloated. Even when appraisals do not overrate performance, they are weak tools for comparing candidates if standards are not precisely defined and raters are not specifically trained. The multiperspective, multi-rater, or 360-degree feedback approach gathers information from colleagues, supervisors, direct reports, and sometimes customers and suppliers.

Because ratings by others are usually compared to self-ratings, individuals can gain considerable insight and motivation to develop and change. But multi rater methods are not particularly useful for selection. They can easily devolve into popularity contests, deliver damaging and blunt messages, and be corrupted by people who solicit biased ratings to take unfair advantage of the system (Heene and Sanchez 152). Multi-rater methods also show low levels of interrater agreement and are subject to considerable halo because raters are usually poorly trained, if at all. A live 360-degree assessment can introduce more rigor.

This way, an executive coach or other trained, objective evaluator collects performance information by interviewing a broad range of observers. For example, General Electric uses an accomplishment analysis as a concentrated way to gather performance data for its management development system. A consultant interviews the manager for several hours meets with the manager’s boss for several more hours, and interviews former associates and subordinates. The consultant summarizes the individual’s achievements and development plans and makes them part of the manager’s file (Heene and Sanchez 192).

Most hiring procedures include an interview. Like résumés, interviews can yield an inflated picture of candidates, who seek to put their best selves forward. The most productive interviews use prepared questions designed to reveal the candidate’s competencies. Behavior-based interviewers evaluate past experiences by asking candidates to describe critical incidents or behavioral examples that illustrate specific competencies of interest (Heene and Sanchez 192).

Where contenders have little or no experience to draw on relative to a competency, behavioral interviewing is much less fruitful. Situational interviewers present applicants with hypothetical situations and ask them to describe how they would react. This approach can illuminate candidates’ understanding of the important issues, although not their actual behavior. Cognitive ability tests are well established as strong predictors of success on most jobs, and they are more predictive for complex jobs than simpler ones.

They measure an individual’s ability to process information and solve problems, although they do not indicate how an executive will approach complex managerial situations. Tests of tacit knowledge have some potential for getting at more practical decision-making (Heene and Sanchez 74).

In sum, the “good practices” in recruitment and selection should be based on the process of matching qualified applicants with organizational jobs is not a single event. Rather, this process can be broken into three distinct operations. Staffing is the umbrella process of filling the organization’s manpower needs. Recruiting is the process of attracting qualified applicants in sufficient quantity to meet manpower needs. Finally, the selection is the process of collecting information from applicants about their qualifications so that a hiring decision can be made. In staffing at the senior level, the leader has particular discretion regarding the qualities of the new people promoted or hired.

Works Cited

Armstrong M., Baron A. (eds.) The job evaluation handbook. Eds. Institute of Personnel and Development. 1995.

Bateman T.S, Snell S. A. Management: the New Competitive landscape. 6th edn., McGaw Hill Irwin, 2004.

Becker, G. 1993. Human capital. New York Columbia University Press, 3rd edn.

Campbell, A., Goold, M. 1987. Strategies and Style. London: Basil Blackwell.

Campbell, A., Goold, M., Alexander, M. 1994. Corporate Level Strategy. London: John Wiley.

Heene, A., Sanchez, R. Competence-Based Strategic Management. New York: John Wiley, 1997.

Reed A. Innovation in Human Resource Management. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2001.

Rosow, J., Casner-Lotto, J. People, Partnership and Profits: The new labor-management agenda, Work in America Institute, New York, 1998.

Schuler, R. Managing Human Resources. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing, 1998.

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