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Posts tagged ‘Recruitment’

Organizational Psychology – Personnel Selection

Answers the Question

How can personnel selection ensure sustainable organizational effectiveness through the acquisition of human capital

How it Began

There has been over 100 years of research, and there is a great deal of psychological understanding regarding how to best identify KSAO requirements for jobs, the development of methods to assess KSAOs and using the scores from assessments to make appropriate selection and recruitment decisions.  But by itself, this research does not ensure that selection delivers sustainable organizational effectiveness.  In 1998 Schmidt and Hunter summarized the relationships between different selection predictors such as cognitive ability and conscientiousness with job performance, but ignored the consideration of sustainable organizational effectiveness.

Personnel Selection

In 1964 McNemar called for ‘social usefulness’ that is how individual differences such as intelligence contributed to real world outcomes.  In the 1970s research by Schmidt, Hunter and colleagues led to validity generalization and meta-analysis, which had a profound effect on personnel selection and practice.  Validity generalization ended the situational-specificity hypothesis to the point that professional guideliness sucha s SIOP Principles (2003) now explicitly recognize the role of meta-analysis as a validation strategy.

In the 1980s the conceptualization and measurement of job performance, and research addressing a number of fundamental selection issues were major contributions.   Followed into the 1990s by the reemergence of personality and the validity-diversity dilemma.  Today the focus is on the performance domain, such as counterproductive work behaviours, types of predictor methods and constructs.

Key Terminology

  • Personnel selection – the process used to hire or promote individuals.
  • Human Capital – the aggregate of individual knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics. (KSAOs)
  • Knowledge Worker – employees whose primary contribution is based on ideas and information
  • Predictive Validity – the extent to which a score on a scale or test predicts scores on some criterion measure.
  • Recruitment – attracting applicants through advertising, word-of-mouth or other methods; it can be used to include the pre-screening phase of selection;
  • Selection – employment decisions made by responsible members of an organization, usually choosing between multiple candidates, and using one or more methods of candidate assessment. It can include the decision of the candidate whether to accept or reject an offer of employment made by an organization.
  • Distributive justice – whether the outcome is seen to be fair and appropriate
  • Procedural justice – whether candidates perceive the process followed to reach the outcome to be fair and whether the selection process is viewed as being job-related.
  • Interpersonal justice – whether candidates perceive that they are dealt with professionally and sensitively during the selection process
  • Informational justice – whether candidates perceive that good quality information and timely feedback is given during and after the process

In Brief

Unlike other forms of capital, human capital cannot be owned by an organization.  Individual employees can, and do, choose to withhold effort, switch jobs or still ideas and take them to a competitor.  With the advent of cross functional working and project teams, jobs are more fluid than at any other time, and once a project is completed the team disband. There is also a recognition that globalization and technology, such as the internet, has transformed the workplace, making the world flat and meaning that human capital no longer has to be in the same geographical area, exposing people to diverse cultures and languages.

Societal changes, such as an aging workforce, more diverse workforce and a global economy has increased the importance of human capital, popularized by Mckinsey in 1997 with the publication of the ‘War for Talent’

Selection is a two-way process; organizations choose employees, but employees also choose an employer. If selection is to be effective then both of these processes must be working effectively. At a human level, Martin et al. (2005) explore some of the issues which arise during the selection process for applicants, which could be seen as being under the umbrella of ‘psychological factors’ including self-esteem and stress. Their research suggests that, for unsuccessful applicants stress levels were higher and self-esteem levels lower than for successful applicants.

What does this mean for Organization Development?

There is a danger that best practice selection methods can be viewed as a panacea, or a way of guaranteeing an effective workforce. This is not the case. No selection method is perfect. The very best personnel selection methods can promise is that we can make use information gathered to make some reasonably accurate predictions about future performance. In this sense, personnel selection might be viewed as a risk management procedure that helps organisations to avoid recruiting unsuitable applicants.

Care must be taken to manage candidates’ perceptions of the selection process because they impact upon candidates’ views of the organization and the likelihood of accepting job offers. If a selection process that identifies the best candidates discourages them from accepting the job offer, it is of little use.  This issue can be minimised through the proper design and execution of selection processes.

Work performance is shaped by a huge number of factors. Two equally able employees might perform differently because one has a very competent manager, while the other has an ineffective manager. Employees may receive different levels of exposure to learning and development opportunities. Some may work in a well functioning team, while others find themselves working with colleagues who are dysfunctional or ineffective. Changes in processes and systems might make the job easier for some employees but not others. Over time, the job that the successful candidate is required will also change, possibly changing to something that the candidate is not suited for.

It is clear that organizations have a wide variety of selection tools to choose from, and must consider multiple criteria (i.e. technical qualities and candidate perceptions) when devising a selection process. If a selection method has good predictive validity for a particular job role, in a particular organisation it might be that this validity does not transfer to other organisations or other job roles. Therefore in order to establish whether a selection tool works well across different situations, meta-analysis should be used to draw general conclusions about the effectiveness of a selection tool. This type of analysis also helps to identify the particular features of a selection tool that seem best, and provide guidance on how to make it work better and those features that might harm its effectiveness.

An effective workforce is not just the product of effective selection. Depending on the roles required, work performance will be determined by different OD intervention.  For example an organisation may require highly skilled engineers in a particular niche area. Given that this role requires a rare set of skills, it will be very difficult to recruit people who already have those skills. Therefore, learning and development will be more important to achieving the desired outcome. Selection might focus on identifying the people with the potential to develop such skills. It might also be that there are some engineering tasks that are so difficult that the majority of the working population are not able to complete them, even after training. This might indicate that equipment re-design or task re-design is required, and selection would focus on identifying those with the aptitude to work with the re-designed equipment or task.

From an Organizational Development perspective it is crucial that selection processes are not considered in isolation from the organisational context, and the constraints and opportunities it presents.

Recommended Reading

  • Cook, M. (2009). Personnel selection: Adding value through people. (5th Edition). London: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Robertson, I. T., & Smith, M. (2001). Personnel selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74, 441-472.
  • Sackett, P. R., and Lievens, F. (2008). Personnel selection. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 419-450.
  • Hough, L. M., Oswald, F. L. (2000). Personnel selection: Looking towards the future – remembering the past. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 631-664.

Organizational Psychology – Recruitment and Competitive Advantage

Answers the Question

What impact do applicant reactions to recruitment and hiring processes have on Brand Equity?


There is some evidence that employment brand equity affects job seekers’ attraction to and intentions to apply to organizations. While employment brand equity seems to be an important concept, the real effects of brands on recruitment outcomes needed to be clarified.  Researchers have clearly identified the dimensions of employment brand equity and explored how employment brand  equity is created. While there is some evidence that recruitment activities affect job seekers’ perceptions of employment brands, very little attention has been given to the potential effects of organizational brand building activities (e.g. corporate marketing and advertising), although it has been proposed that there might be spillover effects of organizational marketing on job seekers’ perceptions of the organization as an employer.

The research streams of organizational identity, corporate reputation, or- ganizational image, corporate culture, corporate branding and corporate communica- tions provide a lot of related concepts and definitions which are relevant to employer branding. Especially corporate reputation and orga- nizational image have to be considered when approaching the topics of employer branding and employer attractiveness.

The Brand equity perspective examines potential dimensions of employment brand equity, and the effects of organizational brand-building activities on employment brand equity and recruitment outcomes.

A knowledge economy emphasising the need for talented employees combined with significant demographical and sociological changes in society, poses new challenges for organisations. Within this complicated context characterising today’s labour market, organisations need to increase focus on employer brand strategies to attract the talented and highly skilled employees.

However, in the eagerness of creating a unique employer brand and attract the talents needed, the organisations risk building expectations they are not able to fulfil after the talents enter the organisations.

Brand Equity

Key Terminology

  • Recruitment – the process of attracting, screening, selecting, and onboarding a qualified person for a job. At the strategic level it may involve the development of an employer brand which includes an ’employee offering’.
  • Employer Brand Equity – the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company
  • Person-Environment Fit – the degree to which individual and environmental characteristics match
  • Organizational Image – Mental picture that springs up at the mention of a firm’s name. It is a composite psychological impression that continually changes with the firm’s circumstances, media coverage, performance, pronouncements, etc.
  • Pre-socialization – the informal adoption of norms or behaviour appropriate to a status not yet achieved by the individuals concerned, so providing them with experience of a role they have yet to assume.
  • Employer Reputation – an opinion about that entity, typically a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria. Reputation may be considered as a component of identity as defined by others.
  • Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace.

In Brief 

An organization’s efforts to recruit job seekers are similar in many ways to the organization’s efforts to attract consumers to purchase their products or services. Specifically, job seekers and consumers both develop positive or negative perceptions about companies and jobs based on their exposure to messages communicated by an organization.

Despite various definitions and differing approaches to employer branding, there is common agreement on the fact that employer branding includes selected concepts from brand management which are transferred to HR management and recruitment.

According to Branham employer branding is “applying traditional marketing principles to achieving the status of Employer of Choice… the process of placing an image of being a great place to work in the mind of the targeted candidate pool.”

This image of being a great place to work is generally referred to as employer image. The term is often used interchangeably with the concept of employer attractiveness in scientific and practitioner literature.

When classifying HR management according to levels into strategic, tactical and operational management, employer branding can be attributed to the category of strategic HR management, since it is focused on the strategic goals of the company as a whole. In comparison, tactical elements are focused on groups of employees and jobs while operational elements are aimed at single employees and jobs.

Most of the current employer branding research is based on the instrumental-symbolic framework, which is taken from brand management literature.  Functional or so-called instru- mental brand benefits describe the objective, tangible and physical attributes of a product which are linked to people’s need to maximize rewards and minimize punishments. Symbolic benefits relate to the subjective, abstract and intangible attributes and are linked to people’s need to maintain their self-identity, to express themselves, or to enhance their self-image

In the employer branding context, instrumental attributes refer to the job or the organization in terms of objective and concrete attributes, such as salary or leave allowances, whereas symbolic attributes describe the subjective, intangible, and abstract aspects of an organization or job, and are often related to perceptions about the prestige of a firm. In the organizational context, they convey symbolic company or job information via imagery and trait inferences assigned to the organization by current or potential employees.

In order to induce positive associations and hence a favorable employer image, em- ployer branding involves the creation of a unique employer value proposition (EVP)8, which encompasses the employment advantages and benefits (instrumental attri- butes) as well as key organizational values (symbolic attributes)

What does this mean for Organization Development?

Importantly, potential employees are affected by elements such as marketing, organisational communication, organisational reputation, employer branding, word of mouth, and the media. All elements of which an organisation is able to affect in some way and thereby interact with potential employees in constructing these employer associations. By integrating the employer brand as a vital part of the organisation’s overall communication strategy and anchored in the overall organisational strategy, an organisation may be able to influence the pre-employment context.

Employer branding is a strategic process which entails incorporating employer brand communication, messages, and symbols in everything the organisation does, meaning that the company logo, advertisements, online communication, internal communication and management, employer branding etc. should reflect the desired employer brand messages.

Organisations might be able to, indirectly, increase the employer brand exposure and thereby interact with potential employees in the construction of employer associations. Further, this enables the organisations to impact what expectations are build towards the employment relationship and thereby attempt to avoid expectations they are not able to fulfil after organisational entry.

If organisations, on the contrary, choose to let the coincidental experiences described above, by not integrating the employer brand strategically, they risk potential employees building false expectations, forming untrue or negative employer associations and thereby not being able to attract the employees needed to ensure future organisational success. Therefore, a strategic integration of the employer brand process is required when building recruitment, selection, on-boarding and reward processes.

The second implication concerns managing word of mouth which is a significant factor in building employer associations, especially when it comes to company visits, career related events, and having acquaintances working at an organisation.

Organisations can apply this knowledge into the management process of the employer brand as well as into existing HRM policies and practices. At the very core lies the fact that satisfied employees will portray the organisations positively and dissatisfied employees will portray the organisation negatively. Therefore, to ensure a coherent employer brand process an organisation can benefit from examining and communicating the employee journey throughout the organisation. By offering the employee an honest and coherent employer brand experience throughout his/her journey in the organisation, an organisation can potentially impact the word of mouth communicated internally and externally.

Finally Employer brand equity affects how the organisation impacts the formation of the psychological contract surrounds the honesty or accuracy of the employer brand communication.

The employer brand and other forms of organisational communication impact the formation of the psychological contract. For example; pre-socialization beliefs are likely to affect and employees psychological contract after organisational entry. Thus, organisations must ensure that the communication offerings presented before organisational entry corresponds with the actual employment offerings.

Organisations must strive to display an accurate image of the organisation and its offering to avoid running the risk of creating unrealistic expectations, which will lead to disappointment and possible intentions to leave. Thus, acknowledging the importance of an accurate employer brand will aid organisations to avoid the possible dilemma of breached expectations as presented in the introduction.

Therefore, displaying an accurate and coherent image of the organisation in both internal and external communication is a prerequisite for impacting the formation of the psychological contract positively.