EMPLOYEE TESTING AND SELECTION NOTES

4.0: Introduction
One of the biggest challenges facing firms lies in the process of testing and selection of employees. A firm that fails to lay emphasis on this process will find itself experiencing a high employee turnover. The purpose of this lesson is to show you how to use various tools and techniques to select the best candidates for the job.

4.1 Why careful selection is important
With a pool of applicants, the next step is to select the best candidates for the job. This usually means whittling down the applicant pool by using the screening tools: tests assessment centers and background and reference checks. Then the prospective supervisor can interview likely candidates and decide who to hire.

Selecting the right employees is important for three main reasons. First, your own performance always depends in part on your subordinates. Employees with the right skills and attributes will do a better job for you and the company, employees without these skills or who are abrasive or obstructionist wont perform effectively, and your own performance and the firm’s will suffer, the
time to screen out undesirables is before they are in the door not after.

Second, it is important because it’s costly to recruit and hire employees. Third its important because of the legal implications of incompetent hiring.

Negligent hiring
This is hiring workers with questionable backgrounds without proper safeguards. Negligent hiring underscores the need to think through what the job’s human requirements really are.

Employers protect against negligent hiring claims by;

  • Carefully scrutinizing all information supplied by the applicant on his or her employment application. For example, look for unexplained gaps in employment
  • getting the applicant’s written authorization for reference checks and carefully checking references
  • saving all records and information you obtain about the applicant
  • rejecting applicants who make false statements of material facts or who have conviction records for offences directly related and important to the job in question
  • keeping in mind the need to balance the applicant’s privacy rights with others “need to know”, especially when you discover damaging information
  • Taking immediate disciplinary action if problems develop.

4.2 Basic Testing Concepts
Effective selection is therefore important and depends, to large degree on the basic testing concepts of validity and reliability.

validity
A test is a sample of a person’s behavior, but some tests are more clearly representative of the
behavior being sampled that others. A typing test for example, clearly corresponds to an on-thejob behavior. At the other extreme, there may be no apparent relationship between the items on the test and the behavior. This is the case with projective tests.

Test validity
The accuracy with which a test, interview and so on measures what it purports to measure or fulfills the function it was designed to fill. It answers the question, “does this test measure what it’s supposed to measure?” with respect to employee selection tests, validity often refers to evidence that the test is job related- in other words, that performance on the test is a valid predictor of subsequent performance on their job. A selection test must be valid since, without proof of validity, there is no logical or legally permissible reason to continue using it to screen job applicants. In employment testing, there are two main ways to demonstrate a test’s validity:
criterion validity and content validity.

1. Criterion validity
Demonstrating criterion validity means that those who do well on the test also do well on the job and that those who do poorly on the test do poorly on the job, thus the test has validity to extent that the people with higher test scores perform better on the job. In psychological measurement, predictor is the measurement (in this case, the test score) that you are trying to relate to a criterion, like performance on the job. The term criterion validity reflects that terminology.

2. Content validity
A test that contains a fair sample of the tasks and skills actually needed for the job in question. Employers demonstrate the content validity of a test by showing that the test constitutes a fair sample of the content of the job. The basic procedure here is to identify job tasks and behaviors that are critical to performance and then randomly detect a sample of those tasks and behaviors to be tested.

Demonstrating content validity sounds easier than it is in practice. Demonstrating that;

  • The tasks the person performs on the test are really a comprehensive and random sample of the tasks performed on the job.
  • The conditions under which the person takes the test resemble the work situation, is not always easy.
    For many jobs, employers must demonstrate other evidence of a test’s validity- such as its criterion validity.

Reliability
Is a test’s second important characteristic and refers to its consistency. It is “the consistency of scores obtained by the same person when retested with the identical tests or with an equivalent form of a test.” A test’s reliability is very important; if a person scored 90 on an intelligence test on Monday and 130 when retested on Tuesday, you probably wouldn’t have much faith in the test.

There are several ways to estimate consistency or reliability. You could administer the same test to the same people at two different points in time, comparing their test scores at time 2 with their scores at time 1; this would be a retest estimate. Or you could administer a test and then administer what experts believe to be an equivalent test later; this would be an equivalent form
estimate.

A test’s internal consistency is another measure of its reliability. For example, suppose you have 10 items on a test of vocational interest; you believe this measure in various ways, the person’s interest in working outdoors. You administer the test and then statistically analyze the degree to which responses to these 10 items vary together. This would provide a measure of the internal consistency is one reason you find apparently repetitive questions on some test questionnaires. A number of things could cause a test to be unreliable. For example the questions may do a poor job of sampling the material; or there might be errors due to changes in the testing conditions

4.3 Interviewing Candidates
An interview is a procedure designed to solicit information from a person’s oral responses to oral inquiries; a selection interview, is a selection procedure designed to predict the future job performance on the basis of applicants oral responses to oral inquiries. Interview is by far the most widely used personnel selection procedure

4.3.1 Types of Interviews
Interviews can be classified in four ways according to;
1. Degree of structure
2. Purpose
3. Content
4. The way the interview is administered
Inn turn the seven main types of interviews used at work- structured, non-structured, situational, sequential, panel, stress and appraisal can each be classified in one or more of these four ways.

The structure of the interview
Interviews can be classified according to the degree to which they are structured. In an unstructured or nondirective type of interview you ask questions as they come to mind the interviewer pursues points of interest as they come up in response to questions. There is
generally no set format to follow and the interview can take various directions. While questions can be specified in advance, they usually are not and there is seldom a formalized guide for scoring the quality each answer. Interviewees for the same job thus may or may not be asked the same or similar questions based on the candidate’s last statement and to pursue points of interest
as they develop.

The interview can also be structured. In the classical structured interview, the questions and acceptable responses are specified in advance and the responses are rated for appropriateness of content. It is an interview following a set sequence of questions. In practice, however not all structured interviews go so as to specify acceptable answers. Structured and no structured interviews each have their pros and cons. With structured interviews all applicants are generally asked all questions by all interviewers that meet and structured interviews are generally more valid. Structured interviews can also help interviewers who may be less comfortable interviewing to ask questions and conduct useful interviews. On the hand, structured interviews don’t always leave the flexibility to pursue points of interest as they develop.

The Purpose of the Interview
Employee- related interviews can also be classified according to their purpose. Thus as noted earlier, a selection interview is a type of interview designed to predict future job performance on the basis of applicants oral responses to oral inquiries. A stress interview is a special type of selection interview in which the applicant is made uncomfortable by a series of sometimes-rude questions. The aim of the stress interview is supposedly to help identify sensitive applicants and those with low or high stress tolerance. In the typical stress interview, the applicant is made uncomfortable by being put on the defensive by a series of frank and often-discourteous questions from the interviewer. The interviewer might first probe for weaknesses in the applicant’s background, such as job that the applicant left under questionable circumstances. Having identified these, the interviewer can yet focus on them hoping to get the candidate to lose his or her composure. Thus a candidate for customer relations’ manager who obligingly mentions having had four jobs in the pat two years might be told that frequent irresponsible and immature behavior. If the applicant then responds with a reasonable explanation of why the job changes were necessary, another topic might be pursued.

On the other hand, if the formerly tranquil applicant reacts explosively with anger and disbelief, this might be taken as a symptom of low tolerance for stress The stress approach can be a good way to identify hypersensitive applicants who might be expected to overreact to mild criticism with anger and abuse. On the other hand, the stress interview’s invasive and ethically questionable nature demands that the interviewers be skilled on the requirements for the job. This is definitely not an approach for amateur interrogations or for those without skill to keep the interview under control.

Interviews serve two more purposes in the employment context. An appraisal interview is a discussions following a performance appraisal in which supervisor and employee discuss the employee’s rating and possible remedial actions. When an employee leaves a firm for any reason, exit interview is often conducted. An exit interview usually conducted by the HR department, aims at eliciting information about the job or related matters that might give the employer a better insight into what is right or wrong about the company.

The content of the interview
Interviews can also be classified according to the content of their questions. A situational type of interview is one in which the questions focus on the individual’s ability to project what his or her behavior would be a given situation. For example, a candidate for a
supervisor’s position may be how asked how he or she would respond to a subordinate coming to work late three days in a row. The interview can be both structured and situational with predetermined questions requiring the candidate to project what his or her behavior would be: in a structured situational interview the applicant could be evaluated, say on his or her choice between letting the subordinate off with a warming versus suspending the subordinate for one week.

Job-related interviews are those in which the intereviewer attempts to asses the applicant’s past behaviors for job-related information, but most questions are not considered situational. In other words questions don’t revolve around hypothetical situations or scenarios. Instead supposedly job-related questions (such as „which courses did you like best in business school?“) are asked in order to draw conclusions about say, the candidate’s ability to handle the fanancial aspects of the job to be filled. The behavioral interview is gaining in popularity. In a behavioral interview a situation is described and interviews are asked how they have behaved in the past in such a situation. Thus while situational interviews ask interviewees to describe how they would react to a situation today or tomorrow, the behavioral interview asks interviewees to describe how they did react to situations in the past.

Finally, psychological interviews are interviews conducted by a psychological in which questionor panel s are intended to assess personal traits such as dependabibit. The interview may use situational job-related or behavioral questions and be either structured or unstructured. Psychological interviews generally have a significantly unstructured element.

4.3.2 Administering the interview
interviews can also be classified based on how they are administered: one-on-one or by a panel of interviewers; sequentially or all at once; and computerized or personally. For example, most interviews are adiministered one-on-one. As the name implies, two people meet alone and one interviews the other by seeking oral responses to oral inquiries. Most selection processes are sequential. In a sequentail interview the applicant is interviewed by several persons in sequence before a selection decision is made. In an unstructured sequentail interviewer may look at the applicant from his or her on point of view, ask different questions and form an independent opinion of the candidate

on the other hand, in s structured sequential or serialized interview each interviewer rates the candidate on a standard evaluation form and the ratings are compared before the hiring decision is made. The panel interview means the candidate is interviewed simultaneously by a group (or panel) of interviewers (rather than sequentially). The group structure has several advantages. A
sequential interview often has candidates cover basically the same ground over and over again with each interviewer. The panel interview, on the other hand, allows each interviewer to pick up on the candidate’s answers, much as reporters do in press conferences than are normally produced by a series of one-on-one interviews. On the other hand, some candidates find panel interviews more stressful and they may actually inhibit responses. An even more stressful variant is the mass interview. In a mass interview several candidates are interviewed simultaneously by a panel. Here the panel poses a problem to be solved and then sits back and watches which candidate takes the lead in formulating an answer.

Increasingly, interviews aren’t administered by people at all but are computerized. A computerized selection interview is one in which a job candidate’s oral and/or computerized responses are obtained in response to computerized oral, visual or written questions and/or situations. The basic idea is generally to present the applicant with a series of questions regarding his or her background, experience education, skills, knowledge and work attitudes specific questions that relate to the job for which the person has applied. In a typical computerized interview the questions are presented in multi-choice format, one at a time and the applicant is expected to respond to the questions on the computer screen by pressing a key corresponding to his or her desired response. For example a sample interview question for a person applying for a job as a store clerk might be:

How would your supervisor rate your customer service skills?

  1. Outstanding
  2. Above average
  3. Average
  4. Below average
  5. Poor

Questions on a computerized interview like this come in rapid sequence and require concentration on the applicant’s part. The typical computerized interview then measures the response time to each question. A delay in answering certain such as “can you be trusted?“ can flag a potential problem.

Computer-aided interviews are generally used to reject totally unacceptable candidates and to select those who will move on to a face-to-face interview.

Computer-aided interviews can be very advantageous. Systems like those on-line substantially reduce the amount of time managers devote to interviewing what often turn out to be unacceptable candidates. Applicants are reportedly more honest with computers than they would be with people, presumably because computers are not judgemental. The computer can also be sneaky: if an applicant takes longer than average to answer a question like, ‘Have you ever been caught stealing?“ he or she may be summarily screened out or at least questioned more deeply in that area by a human interviewer. On the other hand, mechanical nature of computer-aided
interviews can leave applicants with the impression that the prospective employer is rather impersonal.

How useful are interviews?
The ironic about interviews is that while they’re used by virtually all employers, the statistical evidence regarding the validity is actually very mixed. Much of the earlier research gave selection interviews low marks in terms of reliability and validity. However recent studies indicate that key to an interview’s usefulness is the manner in which it is administered. Specifically, the following conclusions are warranted based on one recent study of interview validity: With respect to predicting job performance, situational interviews yield a higher mean validity than do job-related (or behavioral) interviews, which in turn yield a higher mean
Validity than do psychological interviews. Structured interviews, regardless of content are more valid than unstructured interviews are more valid than are panel interviews, in which multiple interviewers provide ratingsin one setting.

In summary, structured situational interviews conducted one-to-one individually seem to be the most useful for predicting job performance. Unstructured interview in general, psychological interviews and panel interviews are some what less useful for predicting job performance.

4.3.3 Interviewing and the law: employment Discrimination “ Testers“
an interview is a selection procedure; interviewers must therefore avoid asking questions concerning, for instance, candidates marital status, childcare arrangements, ethnic background and worker’s compensation history. The increasing use of unemployment
discrimination testers has made such care even more important. Testers are individuals who apply for employment, which they do not intend to accept for the sole purpose of uncovering unlawful discriminatory hiring practices.

4.3.4 Common Interviewing Mistakes
1. Snap Judgements
One of the most consistent findings in the interviewing literature is that interviewers tend to jump to conclusions- make snap judgments about candidates during the few minutes of the interviews, or even before the interview begins based on test scores or resume data. For example, one study showed that interviewers’ access to candidates’ test scores biased the interviewer’s
assessment of the candidate. In another study the interviewer’s evaluation of a candidate was only related to his or her decision about hiring candidate for candidates with low passing scores on a selection test. A great percentage of interviews make up their minds about candidates before the interview begins on the basis of applicants’ application forms and personal appearance. Findings like this underscore that it’s important for a candidate to start off on the right foot with the interviewer. Interviewers usually make up their minds about candidates during the first few minutes of the interview and prolonging the interview past this point usually adds little to change their decisions.

2. Negative emphasis
Jumping to conclusion is especially troublesome when the information the interview has about the candidate is negative. For example in one study the researchers found that interviewers who previously received unfavorable reference letters about applicants gave the applicants less credit for past successes and held them more personally responsible for past failures after the interview. Furthermore the interviewer’s final decisions to accept or reject applicants based on the references, quite aside from their interview performance. In other word impressions are much more likely to change from favorable to unfavorable than from unfavorable to favorable. A
common interviewing mistake is to make the interview itself mostly a search for negative information. In a sense, therefore, most interviews are probably loaded against the applicant. an applicant who initially rated high could easily end up with allow rating, given applicant who is initially rated high could easily end up with low rating, given the fact that unfavorable information tends to carry more weight in an interview. An interviewee who starts out with a poor rating will find it hard to overcome that first bad impression during the interview.

3. Poor knowledge of the job
Interviewers who don’t know precisely what the sort of candidate is best suited for it usually make their decision based on incorrect stereotypes about what a good applicant is. They then erroneously match interviewees with their incorrect stereotypes. On the other hand , interviewees who have a clear understanding of what the job entail hold interviews that are more useful.

4.Pressure to hire
Pressure to hire also undermines an interview’s usefulness .For example, a group of managers was told to assume that they were behind in their recruiting quota .A second group was told that were ahead of their quota. Those “behind’’ evaluate recruits much more highly than did those “ahead ‘’.

5. Candidate –Order [contrast] Error
It is an error of judgment on the part of the interviewer due one or more very good or very bad candidate just before the interviewer in question .Mean that the order in which you see applicant affects how you rate them.

6. Influence of nonverbal behavior
Interviewers are also influenced by the applicant’s nonverbal behavior .For example, several studies have showed that applicants who demonstrate greater amount of eye contact head moving, smiling and other similar nonverbal behavior are rate higher .In fact these nonverbal behaviors often account for more than 80% of the applicant’s rating. An applicant’s attractiveness and gender also play a role. Researchers found out that whether attractiveness was a help 0r a hindrance to job applicant depended on the sex of the applicant and the nature of the job. Attractiveness was advantageous for male interviewees only when the job was non-managerial.

7. Telegraphing
Some interviewers are so anxious to fill a job that they help the applicant respond correctly to their questions by telegraphing the expected answer .An example might be a question like.“This job calls for Handling a lot of stress .You can do that ,can’t you?’’ the telegraphing isn’t always so obvious .For example interviewer ‘ first impression of candidates [from examining application blank and test scores ] tend to positively linked to use of a more positive interview style and vocal on the part of the interviewer .This can translate into sending subtle cues [like a smile ]regarding what answer is being sought .

8. Too much /Little Talking
Too much or little guidance on the interviewer’s part is anther common mistake. Some interviewers let the applicant dominate the interview to the point where too few substantive questions are pursed .At the other extreme some interviewers stifle the applicant by not giving the person sufficient time to answer questions.

4.3.5 Designing and Conducting the Effective Interview
Designing and an effective interview can avoid problems like those addressed.

The Structured Interview
Since structure situation interviews are usually the most valid interviews for predicting job performance , conducting an effective interview ideally stars with designing a structured situation interview, a series of hypothetical job-oriental questions with predetermined answers that are consistently asked of all applicant for a particular job .Usually a committee of person familiar with the job develops situation and job-knowledge questions based on the actual job duties .They then reach consensus on what are not acceptable answers to these question .The actual procedure consist of five step as follows:

Step.1: Job Analysis: First, write a description of the job in the form of a list of a job duties, require knowledge, skill, abilities and worker qualification.
Step 2: Evaluate the Job Duty Information.
Next, rate each duty no its importance to job success and on amount of time required to perform it compared to other task .The aim here is to identify the main duties of the job.
Step .3: Develop Interview Questions. The employees, who list and evaluate the job duties, then develop interview questions. The interview questions are based on the listing of job duties with more questions generated for the more important duties.

A situational interview may actually contain situation; job –knowledge and “willingness ‘questions [although the situation questions pose a hypothetical job situation tend to be the most valid]. Situation question pose a hypothetical job situation ; such as “job knowledge the job.These often deal with technical aspects of a job .Willingness questions gauge the applicant ‘s willingness and motivation to do repetitive physical work to travel , to relocate and so forth .

Step 4: Develop Benchmark Answer. Next develop answer and a five-point rating scale for each question , with specific answer develop for good [a 5 rating ] ,marginal [a 3rating ] ,and poor [a 1rating ] .

STEP 5: Appoint Interview Panel and Implement .These types interviews are generally conduct by panel, rather than sequentially. The panel should consist of three to six members, preferable the same employees who participated in writing the interviews and answer.

Panel member may also be supervisors of the job to be filled, the job incumbent, peers and HR representatives .The same interview member should be used to interview all candidates for the job. Before the interview, the job duties, question and benchmark answer are distributed to the panel members and reviewed Next the panel and to ask all questions of all applicants in this and succeeding interviews to ensure consistency. However, all panel members record and rate the applicant’s answer to each question falls relative to the ideal poor, marginal or good answers. At the end of the interview, each applicant is directed to someone who will explain the follow-up procedure and answer any question applicant has.

4.3.6 Guidelines for Conducting an Interview.
1. Plan the Interview
Being by reviewing the candidate’s application and not any areas that vague or that may indicate strengths or weakness .Review the job specification and plan to start the interview with a clear picture of the traits of an ideal candidate . If possible use a structure form. Interviews based on structured guides, usually result in the best interviews .At a minimum, you should write out your question prior to the interview. The interview should take place in a private room where telephone calls are not accepted and interruptions can be minimized. Also plant to delay your decisions. Interviewers often make snap judgment even before they see the candidate on the
basic of his or applicant form, for instance- or during the first few minutes of the interview. Make your decision them.

2. Establish Rapport
The main reason for the interview is to find out about the applicant: To do this start by putting the person at ease. Greet the candidates and start the interview by asking a non-controversial question –perhaps about the weather or traffic condition that day. As a rule, all applicant, even unsolicited drop-ins-should receive friendly courteous treatment, not only on humanitarian grounds but also because your reputation is on the line. Be aware of the applicant’s status .For example, if you are interviewing someone who is unemployed he or she may be exceptionally nervous and you may want to take additional step to relax the person.

3. Ask Questions
Try to follow your structure interview guide or the question you wrote out ahead of time .A menu of question to choose from. Avoid questions that can be answered “yes’’ or “no’’ , don’t put word in the applicant’s mouth or telegraph the desire answer ,for instance , by nodding or smiling when the right answer is given ,don’t interrogate the applicant as if the person is a criminal and don’t be patronizing , sarcastic or inattentive , don’t monopolize the interview by rambling nor lat the applicant’s opinions and feelings by repeating the person’s last comment as a question . When you ask for general statements of a candidate’s accomplishment, also ask for examples. Thus if at the end candidate lists specific strengths or weakness, follow up with “what are the specific examples that demonstrate each of your strengths?’’

4. Close the interview
Toward the close of the interview, leave time to answer any questions the candidate may have and if appropriate, to advocate your firm to the candidate. Try to end all interviews on a positive note. The applicant should be told whether there is an interest and if so, what the next step will be. Similarly, rejections should be made diplomatically for instance, with a statement like, ”although your background is impressive, there are other candidates whose experience is closer top our requirements.” If the applicant is still being considered but a decision cant be reached at once, say this. If our policy is to inform candidates of their status in writing, do so within a few days of the interview.

5. Review the interview
After the candidates leaves, review your interview notes, fill in the structured interview guide and review the interview while it’s fresh in your mind. Remember that snap judgments and negative emphasis are two common interviewing mistakes; reviewing the interview shortly after the candidate has left can help you minimize these two problems.

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