Now that you have watched the mini lecture, you can learn more in the Essential readings for this topic:
Pilbeam, S. and M. Corbridge People resourcing and talent planning: HRM in practice. (Harlow: Pearson, 2010) 4th edition. Chapter 6 Recruitment: attracting the right people. Chapter 7 Selection: Choosing the right people.
Remember that all the Essential reading for this programme is provided for you. Click ‘next’ to go to the next page and start reading.
Stephen Pilbeam and Marjorie Corbridge, People resourcing and talent planning: HRM in practice (Pearson, 2010; 4th edition)
Effective human resource planning can predict HR gaps and promote a focus on recruiting the right people to deliver business objectives. The recruitment and selection process is a matching activity between applicant and job, which is dependent, first, on the organisation clearly defining and specifying a need; second, on utilising appropriate recruitment methods and selection techniques effectively; and, third, on reviewing, evaluating and modifying the recruitment and selection system in the light of experience. Recruitment and selection, while being systematic, need not be inflexible and as well as the candidate fitting the job, the job may need to fit the candidate to some extent − a degree of job malleability and person malleability will lubricate the matching process. The recruitment and selection of workers is fundamental to the functioning of an organisation and there are compelling reasons for getting it right. Inappropriate selection decisions reduce organisational effectiveness, invalidate reward and development strategies, are frequently unfair on the individual recruit and can be distressing for managers who have to deal with unsuitable employees. Inappropriate recruitment is also expensive. If the overall costs of leaving, including payroll and administration, recruitment and selection time and fees, induction, training, unproductive time and any indirect loss of business or customer satisfaction, are taken into account, the estimated cost per leaver can be around £4000, and £10 000 for managers and professionals (CIPD, 2009b). Recruitment is addressed in this chapter and selection in the next chapter.
Good recruitment and selection is important because well-thought-out, agreed and communicated policies, procedures and practices can significantly contribute to effective organisational performance, to good employee relations and to a positive public image. Ineffectiveness in recruitment and selection may lead to poor work performance, unacceptable conduct, internal conflict, low morale and job satisfaction and dysfunctional labour turnover. Good recruitment is more than just filling vacancies and human resource planning is the route to forecasting HR requirements and ensuring that the recruitment and selection activity is directed at getting the right people, in the right place, at the right time with the right skills to achieve the business objectives. Recruitment and selection is therefore an essential part of HR strategy. Recruitment and selection processes should be effective, efficient and fair − effective in generating candidates of appropriate quality and quantity and distinguishing between the suitable and the unsuitable; efficient in being timely and resource effective; fair by dealing equitably, honestly and courteously with all applicants and providing a positive framework within which diverse candidates can demonstrate their abilities (ACAS, 2006).
It is useful for analytical purposes to distinguish between recruitment and selection.
• Recruitment is a process which aims to attract appropriately qualified candidates for a particular position from which it is possible and practical to select and appoint a competent person or persons.
• Selection is a process which involves the application of appropriate techniques and methods with the aim of selecting, appointing and inducting a competent person or persons.
Recruitment and selection are components of the same system or process and can be considered separately, but they are not mutually exclusive functions. A systems approach to recruitment and selection (Figure 6.1) is based on the idea that a system has inputs, a processing unit and outputs. The processing unit contains the recruitment and selection sub-systems. The inputs are the candidates, the processing unit consists of various methods and techniques, and the outputs are either effective employees or candidates who return to the labour market. The candidates who return to the labour market are either rejected by the organisation or choose to exit from the recruitment and selection process. The system is subject to considerable external influence − the legal framework, the economic situation, social and demographic change, competitor activity and labour market characteristics. The systems approach provides a convenient analytical framework and permits the penetration of the recruitment and selection sub-systems.
The Internet provides increasing access to labour markets and relies on the positive efforts of the individual to visit the job vacancy and initiate the job search, but increasing use of Internet recruitment by employers, recruitment consultants and job-seekers is evident. Seventy-five per cent of employers use their own websites to advertise vacancies, with 25 per cent of all employers using commercial websites (CIPD, 2009a). The use of the Internet for advertising jobs needs to be based on the likelihood of Internet surfers being within the target labour market. Internet job search is broadening its base in terms of the job-seeking habits of applicants. As the incidence of broadband Internet access increases and as familiarity with online job search has grown, Internet recruitment is becoming mainstream recruitment practice. Advertising on the Internet for six months costs approximately the same as one full display advertisement in a broadsheet newspaper.
Web 2.0 is the label for second generation web activity where individuals interact and contribute rather than be passive receivers of information. This interaction manifests itself through blogs and through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. There are two principal opportunities for employers. First, through exploiting social networking sites to engage with potential job-seekers and to promote the employer brand and, second, through seeking information about potential job-seekers through their social networking presence and activity. Clearly there are inherent dangers in seeking out information on individuals in relation to reliability and validity, and also ethical issues in relation to respect to privacy (the same may be said of ‘googling’ potential recruits).
Vacancy boards may be either internal, and only seen by current employees, or external − located in a public place. They are a low-cost way of advertising jobs, but will only access a limited pool of applicants. Internal vacancy boards enable existing employees to apply for a job change, personal development or promotion. Employees may also bring vacancies to the attention of family members and friends. External vacancy boards are often used by restaurants and retail shops and are effectively utilising the customer base as the labour market. These window boards need to be professionally designed and strategically positioned to maximise the impact on the flow of customers and other members of the public.
A talent bank consists of speculative enquiries and also applications retained from previous recruitment activity, and provides a pool of potential candidates that can be accessed when a vacancy occurs. The advantages are lower costs, resource efficiency and a shortened recruitment time scale, but talent banks are problematic to manage and demand efficient and effective recording, filing and retrieval systems. An HR information system can target the search of a talent bank in relation to a person specification. Three factors militate against talent banks. First, they have a tendency to decay quickly. Applications have a limited life as candidate interest may wane over time or personal and occupational circumstances may change. Second, the resurrection of an application and the contacting of a candidate by the employer has implications for the psychological contract.
The ‘milkround’ is the process of promoting employment opportunities through employer attendance at careers and other recruitment events at universities. This may involve the employer in responding to student enquiries, the initial screening of candidates and the formal presentation of organisational information. It is clearly targeted at the graduate and postgraduate labour market. Facilities are provided by the institution, but the milkround is resource-intensive in terms of organisational representatives, travel, accommodation and the quality of display stands and supporting literature. The degree of milkround participation by an employer depends on the number of graduate vacancies and the need to maintain or increase the profile of the organisation.
As identified in the previous chapter, the second recruitment and selection sub-system is reduction. This has the objective of reducing the pool of applicants to a manageable number by eliminating and rejecting unsuitable candidates. This can be done indirectly, through the characteristics of the recruitment activity, and directly, through using predetermined job criteria. The processes involved are filtering, screening and shortlisting. Recruitment activity filters applications not only through specifying job requirements, but also, indirectly, through factors such as whether a realistic preview of the job is communicated, the ease or difficulty of application, the time scale for applicant response and the quality of the recruitment pack information. These factors need critical evaluation as they contribute to ensuring that suitable candidates are retained within the recruitment and selection system and unsuitable applicants are eliminated.
The important concepts of validity, reliability and popularity provide dimensions for probing the potential and the limitations of different selection methods. The validity of a selection method is the extent to which it measures what it intends to measure. The main concern of recruiters is the predictive validity of selection methods − how effective is an interview, a test or an assessment centre in predicting the eventual job performance of a candidate? Predicting job performance through the selection process is a challenging task and cannot be underestimated. The predictive validity of selection methods can be compared by using a correlation coefficient to measure the probability that a selection method will predict performance in a job. A correlation coefficient of 1.0 represents certain prediction, a correlation coefficient of 0.5 approximates to a 50 per cent chance that the selection method will predict performance, and a correlation coefficient of 0.0 indicates no connection between the selection method rating and job performance.
We turn now to consider more advanced methods of selection and issues surrounding their usage. Advanced methods comprise various forms of testing (including aptitude, attainment, personality and work sampling tests), group methods and assessment centres. Testing The use of tests in selection is surrounded by strong feelings for and against. Those in favour of testing in general point to the unreliability of the interview as a predictor of performance and the greater potential accuracy and objectivity of test data. Tests can be seen as giving credibility to selection decisions. Those against them either dislike the objectivity that testing implies or have difficulty in incorporating test evidence into the rest of the evidence that is collected. Questions have been raised as to the relevance of the tests to the job applied for and the possibility of unfair discrimination and bias. Also, some candidates feel that they can improve their prospects by a good interview performance and that the degree to which they are in control of their own destiny is being reduced by a dispassionate routine. CIPD (2012) found that 23% of organisations use general ability tests, 38% of organisations use literacy/numeracy tests and 35% use personality tests. Testing is more likely to be used for management, professional and graduate jobs − although as Web-based testing on the Internet becomes more common it is likely to be used for a wider range of jobs.
People differ in their performance of tasks, and tests of aptitude (or ability) measure an individual’s potential to develop in either specific or general terms. This is in contrast to attainment tests, which measure the skills an individual has already acquired. When considering the results from aptitude tests it is important to remember that a simple relationship does not exist between a high level of aptitude and a high level of job performance, as other factors, such as motivation, also contribute to job performance. Aptitude tests can be grouped into two categories: those measuring general mental ability or general intelligence and those measuring specific abilities or aptitudes.
Intelligence tests, sometimes called mental ability tests, are designed to give an indication of overall mental capacity. A variety of questions are included in such tests, including vocabulary, analogies, similarities, opposites, arithmetic, number extension and general information. Ability to score highly on such tests correlates with the capacity to retain new knowledge, to pass examinations and to succeed at work. However, the intelligence test used would still need to be carefully validated in terms of the job for which the candidate was applying. Examples of general intelligence tests are found in IDS (2004).
There are special tests that measure specific abilities or aptitudes, such as spatial abilities, perceptual abilities, verbal ability, numerical ability, motor ability (manual dexterity) and so on. An example of a special abilities test is the Critical Reasoning Test developed by Smith and Whetton (see IDS 2004).
Whereas aptitude tests measure an individual’s potential, attainment or achievement tests measure skills that have already been acquired, for example keyboard skills or the ability to use Word, PowerPoint or Excel software. There is much less resistance to such tests of skills as candidates are sufficiently confident of their skills to welcome the opportunity to display them and are in control, whereas they feel that the tester is in control of intelligence and personality tests as the candidates do not understand the evaluation rationale. Attainment tests are often devised by the employer.
Debate rages about the importance of personality for success in some jobs and organisations. The need for personality assessment may be high but there is even more resistance to tests of personality than to tests of aptitude, partly because of the reluctance to see personality as in any way measurable. There is much evidence to suggest that personality is also context dependent and may change over time. Personality tests are mainly used for management, professional and graduate jobs, although there is evidence of their use when high-performance teams are developed.
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