Employee Screening and Selection

AuthorLawrence Kleiman, Tim Barnett

Page 243

According to R.D. Gatewood and H.S. Field, employee selection is the "process of collecting and evaluating information about an individual in order to extend an offer of employment." Employee selection is part of the overall staffing process of the organization, which also includes human resource (HR) planning, recruitment, and retention activities. By doing human resource planning, the organization projects its likely demand for personnel with particular knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), and compares that to the anticipated availability of such personnel in the internal or external labor markets. During the recruitment phase of staffing, the organization attempts to establish contact with potential job applicants by job postings within the organization, advertising to attract external applicants, employee referrals, and many other methods, depending on the type of organization and the nature of the job in question. Employee selection begins when a pool of applicants is generated by the organization's recruitment efforts. During the employee selection process, a firm decides which of the recruited candidates will be offered a position.

Effective employee selection is a critical component of a successful organization. How employees perform their jobs is a major factor in determining how successful an organization will be. Job performance is essentially determined by the ability of an individual to do a particular job and the effort the individual is willing to put forth in performing the job. Through effective selection, the organization can maximize the probability that its new employees will have the necessary KSAs to do the jobs they were hired to do. Thus, employee selection is one of the two major ways (along with orientation and training) to make sure that new employees have the abilities required to do their jobs. It also provides the base for other HR practices—such as effective job design, goal setting, and compensation—that motivate workers to exert the effort needed to do their jobs effectively, according to Gatewood and Field.

Job applicants differ along many dimensions, such as educational and work experience, personality characteristics, and innate ability and motivation levels. The logic of employee selection begins with the assumption that at least some of these individual differences are relevant to a person's suitability for a particular job. Thus, in employee selection the organization must (1) determine the relevant individual differences (KSAs) needed to do the job and (2) identify and utilize selection methods that will reliably and validly assess the extent to which job applicants possess the needed KSAs. The organization must achieve these tasks in a way that does not illegally discriminate against any job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or veteran's status.


Employee selection is itself a process consisting of several important stages, as shown in Exhibit 1. Since the organization must determine the individual KSAs needed to perform a job, the selection process begins with job analysis, which is the systematic study of the content of jobs in an organization. Effective job analysis tells the organization what people occupying particular jobs "do" in the course of performing their jobs. It also helps the organization determine the major duties and responsibilities of the job, as well as aspects of the job that are of minor or tangential importance to job performance. The job analysis often results in a document called the job description, which is a comprehensive document that details the duties, responsibilities, and tasks that make up a job. Because job analysis can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive, standardized job descriptions have been developed that can be adapted to thousands of jobs in organizations across the world. Two examples of such databases are the U.S. government's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), which has information on at least 821 occupations, and the Occupational Information Network, which is also known as O*NET. O*NET provides job descriptions for thousands of jobs.

An understanding of the content of a job assists an organization in specifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to do the job. These KSAs can be expressed in terms of a job specification, which is an

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Exhibit 1

Selection Process

Source: Adapted from Gatewood and Field, 2001.

1. Job Analysis The systematic study of job content in order to determine the major duties and responsibilities of the job. Allows the organization to determine the important dimensions of job performance. The major duties and responsibilities of a job are often detailed in the job description.
2. The Identification of KSAs or Job Requirements Drawing upon the information obtained through job analysis or from secondary sources such as O*NET, the organization identifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the job. The job requirements are often detailed in a document called the job specification.
3. The Identification of Selection Methods to Assess KSAs Once the organization knows the KSAs needed by job applicants, it must be able to determine the degree to which job applicants possess them. The organization must Once the organization knows the KSAs needed by job applicants, it must be able to determine the degree to which job applicants possess them. The organization must Selection methods include, but are not limited to, reference and background checks, interviews, cognitive testing, personality testing, aptitude testing, drug testing, and assessment centers.
4. The Assessment of the Reliability and Validity of Selection Methods The organization should be sure that the selection methods they use are reliable and valid. In terms of validity, selection methods should actually assess the knowledge, skill, or ability they purport to measure and should distinguish between job applicants who will be successful on the job and those who will

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