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  • 1. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychology CHAPTER 3: Employee Selection Principles and TechniquesWhen you leave college to take a full-time job, there is a 50% chance that you willquit your first job within 3 to 5 years > variety of reasons > both the employee and theorganization lose -> importance of employee selection principles and techniques.Improper matching of the person and the job, of the person’s skills and characteristicswith the job’s demands and requirements leads to dissatisfaction and poorperformance in the work situation.Organizational EntryA study of managerial, professional and technical employees of a large oil companyfound that those who demonstrated success early in their career were more likely to bepromoted than those who were less successful early in their career (Dreher & Bretz,1991).Initial job challenge has a positive impact on employee performance and success.The challenge should be compatible with your expectations and preferences.Employee preferencesChallenging, interesting and meaningful workHigh salaryOpportunities for advancementJob securitySatisfactory working hoursPleasant working conditionsCompatible co-workersFeeling of being respected and appreciatedOpportunity to learn new skillsFair and loyal supervisionBeing asked one’s opinion on work issuesAssistance with personal problemsA study of business students showed the most important consideration to be thecompany’s location, followed by salary and benefits (Barber & Roehling, 1993).Another factor that affects employee preferences is level of education. Collegegraduates have different preferences from high school graduates and there are alsodifferences btw college graduates. Engineering majors differ from liberal arts majorsand students differ from C students. Age also plays an important role as well asspecialization.Employee preferences change as a function of economic conditions. When jobs aredifficult to obtain, new employees may be more interested in pay and job security. Ina better economic climate when there are plenty of jobs, issues such as challengingwork or the opportunity to develop new skills rank higher.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 1 of 16
  • 2. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyPreferences also differ as a function of race. A survey comparing job preferences ofblack and white women college students, found that more blacks than whites wanted ahigh-paying job rather than interesting work (Murrell, Frieze & Frost, 1991). The recruitment processSources of potential employeesRecruiter characteristicsCollege campus recruitingInformation provision to job recruitsSources of recruiting:Formal > ads in newspapers, referrals from employees, employment agencies, searchservices, placement services of professional associations, job fairs, outplacementagencies, college campus, online recruiting (e.g. several major newspapers includingthe New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune have jointlybegun an online career employment service).Informal > contacting friends and acquaintances > more accurate information andmore often lead to hiring.A study of 186 students at universities and training schools found that the longer thejob search, the less the students used formal recruiting sources. However, those whoremained unemployed 3 months after the study began significantly increased their useof formal sources > the use of formal sources was high in the early stages of a jobsearch and again later if the search proved unsuccessful (Barber, Daly, Giannantonio& Phillips, 1994).Recruiter characteristicsRecruiter characteristics like smiling, nodding, maintaining eye contact,demonstrating empathy and warmth and showing thoughtfulness, competence andpersonableness are important and influence applicants to accept jobs.College men expressed the same likelihood of job acceptance whether their recruiterwas male of female, but college women said they would be much more likely toaccept a job offer if the company recruiter was male.Research has shown that 50% of women interviewed are offended by gender-relatedcomments made to them by male recruiters about their personal appearance.Also, job applicants prefer recruiters to spend time during the interview to provideinformation about the company, to seek information about the applicant (give thechance to the applicant to speak about their achievements), and answer applicantquestions.Also issues like how comfortable the applicant feels in the presence of theirprospective superiors and the location of the company are important.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 2 of 16
  • 3. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyCampus recruitingFewer than half of the corporate recruiters have received training in the propertechniques for interviewing job applicants > problems with the success of campusrecruiting.Many organizations are turning to computerized recruitment databases: compilationsof student resumes.Colleges and universities also maintain online resumes of graduating seniors as wellas listings of companies that are hiring.Also students can access information about alumni who will serve as mentors.Universities also offer computerized videoconferencing facilities in which companiescan conduct long-distance interviews with college seniors > company access toschools they may not visit.Major problem for campus recruiting is finding job candidates who have a realisticview of the business world.Both applicants and recruiters may present misleading images in order to attractattention > high incidence of turnover in the first 3-5 years of the first job entry.Realistic job previews: provide information that is as accurate as possible about allaspects of a job.Such information can be supplied through a brochure or other written description ofthe job, through a film or videotape, or through an on-the-job sample of the work tosee if the applicant can perform the required tasks > reduction of unrealisticexpectation about jobs.Research shows that realistic job previews correlate positively with job satisfaction,job performance and reduced turnover rates.Also they reduce the number of applicants accepting jobs.Their effect varies as a function of the prior exposure applicants have had to the job inquestion > a study of 1,117 applicants for positions as correctional officers found thatapplicants with previous experience at prison work were far less likely to accept joboffers after watching a realistic job preview on videotape than were applicants whohad no such prior experience (Meglino, DeNisi & Ravlin, 1993).After the recruiting process has been completed and applicants and organizations havedecided that each meets the other’s needs, the selection process formally begins.The Selection ProcessJob and Worker analysis > I/O psychologists must investigate the nature of the job.The organization will not know what abilities potential employees should have unlessit can describe in detail what they are expected to do to perform the job effectively >Job Analysis: the study of a job to describe in specific terms the nature of thecomponent tasks performed by the workers.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 3 of 16
  • 4. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyA job analysis determines the specific skills necessary to the job and from it a profileof worker qualification can be developed.Once these abilities have been specified, the human resource manager or theoccupational psychologist must determine the most effective means of identifyingthese characteristics in potential employees, and evaluate them in each applicant.Then a score or level for the various abilities is established > the I/O psychologistmay look at the present workers of the company to determine the cutoff scores thatshould be set.Recruitment decisionsThe company should then decide what recruitment method they will use to recruitnew employees > ads, employment agencies, referrals from current employees.The response number of potential employees affects the criteria set for their selection> The selection ratio: the relationship between the number of people to be hiredand the number available to be hired ( the potential labor supply).If there is a shortage of applicants and the jobs must be filled within a few weeks,some requirements will have to be changed (e.g. the cutoff score on an intelligencetest).A shortage of applicants may also force the company to expend its recruitingcampaign and to offer higher wages, enhanced benefits or improved workingconditions to attract and retain new employees.Selection techniquesApplication blanks, interviews, letters of recommendation, assessment centers andpsychological tests. Usually a combination of techniques is used.In the U.S. testing for drug use is now widespread for all types of jobs.Also, there is an increased concern for AIDS and some organizations screen theirapplicants for the HIV.Some scientists have suggested that in the future, genetic testing may be applied toidentify applicants who may be sensitive to certain chemicals used in the workplaceand to predict those individuals who are likely to develop specific diseases.Testing the Selection TechniquesEvery new selection program must be investigated to determine its predictiveaccuracy or validity.This is done by evaluating the performance of the employees selected by the newprocedures, through e.g. Supervisor ratings of their performance. By comparing theseratings with the performance on the selection techniques we can determine how the 2___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 4 of 16
  • 5. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychologymeasures correlate. Did the selection techniques predict which of the applicantsturned out to be the better workers?Based on the results, we either keep or modify our selection procedures. Fair Employment Practices1972: regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) > alljob applicants regardless of race, religion, sex or national origin are guaranteed equalopportunities for employment > discrimination on such grounds is illegal.Adverse impactWhen a minority group of applicants or employees is treated markedly worse thanthe majority group in personnel decisions, that minority group is said to be thetarget of adverse impact in the selection process.Any selection rate for a minority group that is less than 80% of the selection rate forthe majority group is evidence of adverse impact > the company could be challengedin court for maintaining different rejection rates for minority and majority applicants,but other evidence would also have to be presented and not just statisticaldocumentation.Discriminatory QuestionsInterviews and application blanks have been greatly affected by antidiscriminationlegislation because questions that discriminate against a particular group can lead tolawsuits.No questions can be asked that identify applicants’ national origin, race, or color.Applicants cannot be asked to name their birthplace or that of their relatives, toidentify their religious affiliation, or to give the maiden names of female relatives. Itis also unlawful to inquire about the clubs or societies to which the applicants belongand to ask them to submit photographs with their employment applications.It is lawful to ask if applicants have ever been convicted of any crime (as convictioncould be considered relevant to job performance in certain instance – such as whensomeone convicted for embezzlement applies for a job as a bank teller), but it isunlawful to ask if someone has ever been arrested because members of certainminority groups are much more likely to be arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing.Reverse DiscriminationEqual Opportunities legislation has sometimes resulted in discrimination againstmembers of the majority group > reverse discrimination: the phenomenon that mayoccur when recruiting, hiring, promotion and other personnel decisions in favor ofmembers of a minority group result in discrimination against members of themajority group.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 5 of 16
  • 6. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyA 4-year study of 13,509 employees in scientific and engineering occupations foundthat women and blacks had greater promotion opportunities than equally qualifiedwhite men (Shenhav, 1992).Persons hired or promoted on an affirmative action basis may be stigmatized in thisway.New legislation notes that the rights of the majority group must not be unnecessarilyrestrained in the effort to help minorities and that minorities should not be hired orpromoted solely on the basis of percentages. Other targets of discriminationOlder workersThe work force is aging. Life expectancy is increasing and health in later life isimproving. At the same time, working lives have been getting shorter with a trendtowards early retirement. Old age formally starts at the point of retirement: 60 forwomen, 65 for men, but older workers are considered the ones who are above 50years of age.However, management still prefers to hire younger workers, despite consistentevidence from I/O psychology research that older workers are as productive andsometimes more so, as younger workers and have lower absenteeism and turnoverrates. In general, older employees do not suffer from poorer health, diminished vigoror declining mental abilities when compared with younger employees.Studies of about 24,000 persons in nonmanagerial jobs in the manufacturing, clericaland service sectors of the work force found that age was positively related toperformance in highly complex and cognitively challenging jobs and that performancedeclined with age only in less demanding jobs such as low-level clerical or repetitiveassembly-line work (Avolio, Waldman & McDaniel, 1990).However, the stereotypes about older workers persist. They receive more negativeperformance evaluations than younger workers > a meta-analysis of studies of ratingsof older employees found that workers 34 years old and younger tended to give lessfavorable ratings to workers aged 55 and older than they did to younger workers(Finkelstein, Burke & Raju, 1995).Older workers are protected by law against ageism (discrimination in hiring andpromotion with regard to age).The emphasis in the developed world should shift from planning for early retirementtowards encouraging longer working lives.In Finland, the government has taken an active approach towards the employment ofolder people for some years > longitudinal research program: the ‘FinnAge project’> developed the concept of work ability to assess the ability of workers to do theirjob and to predict quality of life > increasing heterogeneity in work ability amongstolder groups of workers > Nation-level action programs to promote health and___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 6 of 16
  • 7. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychologylifestyle, to make adjustments to the physical work environments and to design workand organizational systems more carefully to the needs of older workers (adjustmentsinclude improved workplace design to reduce the physical workload, regular updatingof professional skills and knowledge, and the introduction of more flexible schedulingof work, for example, by introducing micro-pauses following peak loads).Different countries have adopted different approaches to the issue of ageing, work andhealth due to their policies towards labor market intervention as well as theorganization of their health care systems. A major factor is whether health care issupported through employer-funded insurance or through general taxation.Workers with disabilitiesEmployees with physical and mental disabilities are protected by law against jobdiscrimination. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to thephysical or mental impairments of a qualified applicant or employee with a disabilityif it would not impose an undue hardship on normal business operations.Defining the term disability has proven difficult and requires some 60 pages ofgovernment regulations: in general, a person is considered disabled if s/he has aphysical or cognitive impairment that limits one or more major life activities.[sensory impairment: vision or hearing disabilities, motor impairment, cognitiveimpairment: learning disabilities, speech impairment, mental retardation].Research has shown that disabled employees perform as well as or better thannondisabled employees do.Job opportunities for disabled persons vary as a function of type of disability: ppl withimpairments of vision, hearing or motor skills experience greater difficulty obtainingemployment than ppl with less disabling conditions.Women workersWomen face discrimination particularly when applying for what are still considered tobe traditionally male jobs.Once hired, women receive lower wages than men with similar skills andqualifications that are performing the same jobs do.Gender-based wage discrimination: lower pay for comparable worth.Comparable worth: the idea that jobs that require comparable or equivalent skillsshould receive comparable compensation.Thus, discrimination against women today may occur less in the hiring process butmore in terms of pay and promotion.Discrimination based on sexual orientationGay men and lesbian women face discrimination in hiring in public agencies andprivate companies.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 7 of 16
  • 8. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologySome companies, such as AT&T, Xerox and Levi Strauss actively sponsor supportgroups and networks for their gay employees.Discrimination based on physical attractivenessBeautyism: judgment based on a pleasing physical appearance > has shown toaffect hiring and promotion decisions.Many ppl believe that physically attractive persons also possess more desirablepersonality and social traits.A bias against overweight job applicants has also been found.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 8 of 16
  • 9. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychology Job AnalysisJob analysis: the study of a job to describe in specific terms the nature of thecomponent tasks performed by the workers.Includes information about the tools or equipment used, the operations performed, theeducation and training required, the wages paid and any unique aspects of the jobsuch as safety hazards.Essential for employee selection and the design of training programs. Also, it helps inthe design of jobs and workspaces for more efficient performance.Example: if an operator has to walk a long distance from the machine to the storageshelves every time it is necessary to replenish the supply of raw material, this wastedtime and effort can be eliminated be redesigning the work area.Job analysis can also uncover safety hazards or dangerous operating procedures.It can also be applied to the development of job evaluations which are used todetermine appropriate wages for various jobs > in order to determine fair pay,judgments are made by experts that are based on job analyses after the collection andevaluation of data from large numbers of employees on such job-related factors as thespecific skills required, the level of education, the level of responsibility and theconsequences of making errors.2 basic approaches to job analysis: the job-oriented approach and the worker-oriented approach.The job-oriented approach: focuses on the specific tasks involved in performing ajob and on the job outcome or level of productivity.The worker-oriented approach focuses on worker behaviors on the job and on thespecific skills, abilities and personal traits needed to perform the job.Most job analyses involve a combination of job-oriented and worker-oriented data.Interviews: used in job analysis and involve extensive meetings with the personsdirectly connected with the job: the workers performing the job and their supervisors,and sometimes the instructors who trained the workers for the job. These interviewsmay be supplemented by questionnaires.Questionnaires: 2 types used: the unstructured one and the structured one.In the unstructured or open-end approach, the subject matter experts describe intheir own words the components of the job and the tasks performed.In the structured approach, workers and supervisors are provided withdescriptions of tasks, operations and working conditions and are asked to rate theitems or to select those items that characterize their jobs.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 9 of 16
  • 10. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyLength of job experience and race have been shown to influence the content of the jobanalysis. Level of education and gender have only minimal effects.A widely used questionnaires is the PAQ: Position Analysis Questionnaire:consists of 194 job elements related to specific behaviors. These elements areorganized into 6 categories of job behavior: information input, manila processes, workoutput, relationships with other persons, job context and other job activities andconditions. Subject matter experts rate each element for its importance to the job inquestion. Such quantifiable ratings have an advantage over the kind of informationyielded by the unstructured questionnaire.Direct observation: direct observation of the workers on the job.But ppl may behave differently when they are being watched, so it is necessary for thejob analysts to remain as unobtrusive as possible. Also, they should observe arepresentative sample of workers and make observations at various times throughoutthe workday to take account of changes caused by such factors as fatigue.Systematic Activity Logs: workers maintain a detailed written record of theiractivities during a given period.Critical Incidents: The critical-incidents technique is a means of identifyingspecific actions or behaviors that lead to desirable or undesirable consequences onthe job.It is based on identification of those incidents that are necessary to successful jobperformance. The goal is to have subject matter experts indicate the behaviors thatdifferentiate good from poor workers. A single critical incident is of little value, buthundreds of them can effectively describe a job task sequence in terms of the uniquebehaviors required to perform it well.Research comparing the effectiveness of various approaches to job analysis indicatesthat they vary in their usefulness. The choice of a specific technique must depend onthe organization’s reasons for conducting the analysis in the first place. Unless thepurpose of the job analysis is stated (e.g. Refining a selection or training program),the company cannot make an informed decision about which technique to use or whatkind of information to seek. But generally, a combination of methods provides for themost accurate and comprehensive job descriptions.Job analysis also prevents discrimination against groups of workers > equalemployment opportunity and successful selection programs are not possible withoutit.Selection techniques currently in use: biographical information forms, interviews,references and letters of recommendation, assessment centers, polygraphs, integritytests, handwriting analysis, psychological tests. Biographical informationSometimes called biodata > standard application blanks and biographical inventories.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 10 of 16
  • 11. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyStandard application blanks: a technique for compiling biographical informationabout a job applicant.Name, address, education, work experience, medical history, specific skills, criminalconvictions, interests, hobbies, reading habits, career goals.Each relevant item on the application blank must be correlated with a later measure ofjob success. If a high positive correlation is found, them that item can be used withconfidence to select new employees.One problem is the honesty of the applicant’s responses. Some of this faking can bereduced by follow-up interviews and by issuing advance warnings to the effect thatthe information provided is subject to verification.Many organizations attempt to confirm the accuracy of biographical information bycontacting former employers and the persons named as references. Nowadays,however, many companies are reluctant to release personal information for fear oflawsuits > hesitation to supply more than limited factual data. Few give evaluativeinformation such as performance ratings and responsibilities, or answer questionssuch as why the employee left or whether the company would rehire the employee >difficult to verify certain kinds of information obtained from an application.Biographical inventories (or biographical information blank): an employeeselection technique covering an applicant’s past behavior, attitudes, preferencesand values. These questions are longer and more extensive than standard applicationblanks.Eg. How often have other students come to you for advice? How often do you feelyou needed more self-discipline?(Human Relations) How do you regard your neighbors? a. Not interested in your neighbors b. Like them but seldom see them c. Visit in each others’ homes occasionally d. Spend a lot of time together(Values, opinions and preferences) Which one of the following seems most importantto you? a. A pleasant home and family life b. A challenging and exciting job c. Getting ahead in the world d. Being active and accepted in community affairs e. Making the most to your particular abilityAgain to validate the items, each one is correlated with a measure of job performance.They have high predictive value.A study involving 2,535 US Army recruits found that many of the items asked on abiographical inventory could be grouped into 4 personality factors: rugged/outdoors,solid citizen, team sports/group orientation, and intellectual/achievement orientation.The individual responses or scores on these factors showed a strong correlation withthe recruits’ identification with military service and their later decision to leave thearmy before their term of enlistment was up (Mael & Ashforth, 1995).___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 11 of 16
  • 12. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyIn a study of 1,523 college graduates, their responses on a biographical inventorytaken as first-year college students proved to be valid predictors of occupational status16 to 21 years later. The data of greatest predictive value included academicachievement, scientific interests, popularity and social activity (Snell, Stokes, Sands& McBride, 1994). Faking occurs when applicants deliberately distort their responsesby giving answers they believe are more acceptable or desirable or that will presentthem in a more favorable light.To avoid it you can tell ppl that a scale to detect faking is built into the questionnaireor that a special scoring system will lower their scores if they answer dishonestly.In general, biographical inventories are not widely used in the world of work > a gapbtw research and application in I/O psychology. InterviewsLast from a few minutes to a few hours.It is a 2-way process: it provides a situation for the evaluation of a candidate’ssuitability for employment, but it also offers the opportunity for the candidates todetermine whether the company and the job are right for them.The impression you make during an interview will be a decisive factor in whether theorganization offers you a job. Research has shown that interviewers’ assessments ofjob applicants often are influenced more by their subjective impression of theapplicants than by such factors as work history, academic qualifications orextracurricular activities. Personal qualities such as perceived attractiveness, likabilityand skill at self-promotion are the key factors in the interviewers’ hiringrecommendations.Impression management: acting deliberately to make a good impression, to presentoneself in the most favorable way.Applicants usually take 2 approaches: ingratiation and self-promotion.Ingratiation refers to behaviors that attempt to persuade the interviewer to likeyou.Self-promotion tactics include making comments about your accomplishments,character traits or goals. Research has shown that these techniques are effective insignificantly influencing interviewers’ judgments. Self-promotion tactics are usedmore frequently.Unstructured interviews: interviews in which the format and questions asked areleft to the discretion of the interviewers.It is possible that 5 interviewers conducting separate unstructured interviews with thesame applicant will receive 5 different impressions, as they might be interested indifferent aspects of an applicant’s background, experience, attitudes >Basic weakness: its lack of consistency (low reliability) in assessing candidates. Alsoits predictive validity is low. But still most frequently used by organizations.Structured interviews: interviews that use a predetermined list of questions thatare asked of every person who applies for a particular job.___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 12 of 16
  • 13. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work PsychologyThe procedure is standardized and the resulting assessment of the applicant is lessopen to interviewer bias > higher predictive validity and high reliability.Situational interviews: interviews that focus not on personal characteristics orwork experience but on the behaviors needed for successful job performance.Questions about the behaviors needed to perform the job in question. These behaviorsare determined by a job analysis conducted by the critical-incidents technique. Theincidents are rephrased as questions to be used in the situational interview. Then theresponses indicate how the applicants would actually behave and they are scoredagainst the responses displayed by successful employees.Situational interview results have been found to correlate positively with measures oflater job performance and to be more valid than structured interviews.The best kind of interview for predicting job success would be both situational andstructured.Another way to increase the predictive validity of interviews is to have themconducted by a panel of 3 to 5 interviewers instead of one person > minimization ofpossible bias.Also, computer software has been used to conduct the initial interviews > computer-assisted interviewing: applicants answer a fixed sequence of multiple-choicequestions at a computer terminal > is impersonal and is not favored by applicants forhigh-status executive jobs, but other applicants tend to like it. Biasing effects in interviews3 factors can bias an interviewer’s judgment about a job applicant: a. priorinformation, b. the contrast effect, c. interviewers’ prejudices >we can reduce them by training interviewers to recognize their effects.Prior informationMay come from recruiter’s evaluations, applications or psychological tests. It maypredispose an interviewer to have a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward anapplicant.In a study, 3 interviewers for a large energy corporation received the application andtest scores on 79 applicants prior to their interviews. Toward applicants theinterviewers were impressed with because of this prior information, the interviewersbehaved differently than they did toward those applicants they found not soimpressive. The interviewers showed a more positive regard, agreed with them more,laughed, and were more encouraging, warm, understanding, approving and friendly.They also spent more time selling the company and providing job information(Dougherty, Turban & Callender, 1994).The contrast effectInterviewers see many job applicants, often one after another, and how they evaluate aparticular applicant may depend on their standards of comparison; that is, thecharacteristics of the applicants they have interviewed previously. This shows that___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 13 of 16
  • 14. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychologyinterviewers often do not have objective standards for the type of person considered tobe a suitable employee.Interviewers’ prejudicesMen interviewers sometimes think that women employees are incapable ofperforming certain jobs. Interviewers of both sexes are more likely to hire women forso-called traditional female jobs, such as schoolteacher or nurse.Older job applicants and persons with disabilities tend to receive lower evaluationsfrom interviewers. Interviewers have been found to show a same-race bias.Halo effect: the tendency to judge all aspects of a person’s behavior or characteron the basis of a single attribute. References and Letters of RecommendationNot reliable as the persons providing them often present a false picture of theapplicant > past employers want to be kind, current employers who hope to get rid ofundesirable employees are harsh, professors write positive letters because they knowthe students would be able to read their files in the university placement center. Fearof lawsuits prevents organizations to supply evaluative information about formeremployees. So, they are not used frequently anymore. Assessment centers: Selection by simulationAssessment center: a method of selection and training that involves a simulated jobsituation in which candidates deal with actual job problems.Situational testing: an early term for the assessment-center approach to employeeselection and performance appraisal in which subjects act in a simulated job settingso that their behavior under stress can be observed and evaluated.It was developed by the German army in the 1920s to select officer candidates of highquality. It was first used in the US by psychologists during WWII by the forerunner oftoday’s CIA (the Office of Strategic Services – OSS).The use of situational testing in industry was pioneered by AT&T in the mid-1950sand since then it was adopted by more than 2,000 organizations, including IBM, Fordand Kodak.Assessment centers usually involve 6-12 candidates at a time who are evaluated asthey work through a series of exercises over several days. Candidates are interviewedextensively and may be given intelligence and personality tests, but most of their timeis devoted to exercises that are designed to simulate the actual problems of high-leveljobs. The major techniques for eliciting these work samples are the in-the-basketexercise and the leaderless group discussion.The in-basket technique: an assessment center exercise that requires jobapplicants to process memos, letters and directives found in a typical manager’s in-basket.The applicants must process this material in a fixed period of time, demonstratingprecisely how they would handle the questions and problems on the job. After the___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 14 of 16
  • 15. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychologyexercise, they may be required to justify their decisions during interviews with theassessors.AT&T relies heavily on this exercise: each candidate playing the role of a managermust process 25 items (memos, orders and correspondence) in 3 hours. The assessorsobserve the candidates to see if they are systematic, establish priorities, decide todelegate authority to subordinates, or become enmeshed in trivialities.High degree of reliability but moderate validity in predicting managerial success.The Leaderless Group Discussion: an assessment center exercise in which jobapplicants meet to discuss an actual business problem under the pressure of time;usually a leader emerges from the group to guide the discussion.Check for leadership and communication skills each person displays. Someparticipants become angry and their behavior may disrupt the group’s ability tofunction. The contrast between those who can operate well under stress and those whocannot becomes obvious.The assessment center method sometimes uses oral presentations and role-playing.In the oral presentation exercise, candidates are given a packet of information aboutsome aspect of corporate operations and they must organize this material and presentit to the group.In role playing, the candidate acts out the role of manager in a simulated job situation.Assessment centers have moderate predictive validity and less than 20% of companiesusing them has evaluated their programs.Some ppl believe that success in the assessment center depends more on beingarticulate and personable than on actual competence at managerial tasks.The assessment center experience also serves as a training exercise > managerial andinterpersonal skills are developed and refined by the feedback candidates receive fromtheir assessors. Other selection techniquesTests of physical strength: for jobs that require heavy labor (e.g. Firefighters).Isometric tests are used: tests that include pitting one muscle against another oragainst an immovable object.I/O psychologists have suggested that occupational tasks can be described in terms of3 components: a. muscular strength, b. cardiovascular endurance, and c. movementquality.Polygraphs: so-called lie detector machines that purport to measure deception anddishonesty; they have no predictive value for employee selection.Mostly used in the 1980s. They detect deception and dishonesty by measuringphysiological changes in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and the galvanicskin response (the electrical conductivity of the skin). Research has shown that the___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 15 of 16
  • 16. Dr. Stavroula Leka – Introduction to Work Psychologypolygraph can easily be defeated through the use of such simple actions as pressingthe toes against the floor or counting backward by seven.In 1988, the US Congress forbid private employers, but not the federal government,from using the polygraph to test job applicants and employees. Exceptions wereallowed for drug companies, private security firms, and organizations whose workinvolves public health, safety and national security.Since then, the use of polygraphs has been virtually eliminated, replaced by theintegrity test: a paper-and-pencil test to predict and detect employee dishonesty.Graphology: the study of handwriting; although proponents claim that graphologyis a valid predictor of job success, scientific research does not support this claim.Still used a lot (France).___________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3 – Page 16 of 16