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date: 10 December 2019

Conceptual Outline of the Handbook of Assessment and Selection

Abstract and Keywords

In this introduction, the rationale and conceptual outline of this volume are described. A brief description of how each chapter fits in this outline as well as the content of each chapter are presented. The book is organized into nine parts: (I) Introduction and Overview; (II) Historical and Social Context of Selection and the Nature of Individual Differences; (III) Research Strategies; (IV) Individual Difference Constructs; (V) Measures of Predictor Constructs; (VI) Performance and Outcomes Assessment; (VII) Societal and Organizational Constraints on Selection; (VIII) Implementation and Sustainability of Selection Systems; and (IX) Conclusions and Future Directions.

Keywords: employee selection, job performance, human abilities, selection practice, selection research

Perhaps the first applications of scientific psychology in the workplace involved the assessment of the human potential to perform various job tasks. Employee selection remains a primary activity of many industrial/organizational psychologists. Modern demands on organizations have continuously required adaptations on the part of those responsible for selection programs and have made it necessary for researchers to evaluate the impact of these adaptations as well as their implications for how we view human potential. Many of these developments (e.g., web-based assessments; social networking; the development of a virtual workplace; globalization of organizations; and cultural, legal, and social changes) determine in great part the content and focus of many of the chapters in this book. At the same time, advances in scientific psychology (e.g., measurement theory, meta-analysis and longitudinal data analytic techniques, reconceptualization of worker performance, teamwork processes and theory, taxonomic advances in personality, and validity generalization) have also influenced the practice of selection and provided an exciting intellectual climate for research. The 40 sets of authors in this volume describe these developments, discuss their implications, and highlight their views on the future status of our field.

The purpose of the volume is to provide an up-to-date description of research and practice in the various areas addressed and to highlight research areas that will (should) occupy our attention over the next decade or more. A brief conceptual outline of the book and its chapters follows.

Following this introduction and overview, Part II of the book provides the historical background within which actual employee selection and selection research now exists. Vinchur and Koppes Bryan provide a very detailed historical development of the field, particularly its development in the past century. Kevin Murphy describes the area of individual differences from which those interested in employee selection have derived the majority of their hypotheses regarding the human potential to meet the performance demands of their jobs. Ployhart and Schneider discuss the social and organizational milieu in which selection occurs. Finally, Breaugh (p. 4) describes how organizations recruit individuals to apply for their positions. Success in recruiting, or lack thereof, determines how selective organizations can be in filling their positions.

Part III describes the primary research strategies used by personnel selection specialists to provide a scientific and data-based rationale for the procedures they recommend and use. Sackett, Putka, and McCloy provide an excellent discussion of the various forms of evidence that serve as the validation basis for these procedures. Because most of our activity in the selection arena begins with a careful study of the job requirements of the positions we hope to help fill, Brannick, Cadle, and Levine present a detailed treatment of these procedures and how and when they are critical. Hausknecht and Wright provide a description of how the human resource practices of organizations, including selection, can be used to reinforce their overall business strategy. Finally, since much of our validation evidence relies on the thousands of studies that provide correlations between scores on selection devices and measures of job performance, a chapter on meta-analyses used to summarize these data is presented by Banks and McDaniel.

In the next section (Part IV), five chapters address in more detail than does the chapter by Murphy the individual difference constructs that are believed to underlie job performance. Ones, Dilchert, and Viswesvaran describe the nature of cognitive ability and the voluminous and convincing literature relating cognitive ability to a variety of performance outcomes. In similar fashion, Barrick and Mount detail the nature and validity of the use of personality constructs and measures in selection situations. The degree to which employees’ interests and characteristics fit the jobs and organizations in which they are employed has long been hypothesized to correlate with job performance and satisfaction. Ostroff and Zhan outline the various ways in which fit has been conceptualized and operationalized and the degree to which measures of fit are related to various criteria. Though not psychological, personnel selection specialists often find that various physical abilities are required, or are certainly helpful, in performing various work. Baker and Gebhardt comprehensively review the nature and validity of physical ability testing in selection. In the last chapter in this section, Hattrup considers how measures of various combinations of these constructs can provide optimal selection strategies, or strategies designed to produce various outcomes (e.g., optimizing performance potential and workforce diversity).

In Part V, the focus is on the various methods of collecting data about the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) of job applicants. In each case, authors describe the best practices with respect to the use of the method, the KSAOs that are best assessed using the method, and the particular strengths and weaknesses of the method. Although most of these methods can be adapted to measure several different types of KSAOs, many are utilized to assess only one or a few of the individual difference constructs discussed in Part IV. The literature on selection procedure validity often speaks of the validity of interviews, biodata, simulations, etc. However, these are methods of measurement that can, and often are, used to measure different constructs. This volume has been structured to emphasize this point.

Interviews are perhaps the most widely used method of personnel assessment. Dipboye, Macan, and Shahani-Denning provide evidence on the use and validity of interviews, but emphasize the social nature of the interview as a determinant of the information acquired in the interview by both the employer and applicant. Mumford, Barrett, and Hester describe the manner in which biodata instruments are developed, scored, and used and their demonstrated validity in the measurement of various constructs as well as the problems associated with their use. Lievens and De Soete present a variety of approaches to the use of work simulations in personnel selection. Simulations can be used to measure a variety of constructs and, to the extent that they represent more or less exact replicas of on-the-job work performance, actual work behavior. Individual assessments are developed and most often used to assess top executives and are often designed to fill a single position. As such, the usual criterion-related validation study as outlined by Sackett et al. in Part III is not feasible. McPhail and Jeanneret review the manner in which such assessments are developed, conducted, and aggregated to make decisions about candidates. Self-report inventories are usually used to assess aspects of personality, motivation, fit, or interest. Spector addresses the unique strengths and liabilities of self-report inventories and the manner and degree to which problems associated with this method of measurement can be minimized. Traditionally, cognitive ability was perhaps most often measured using written paper-and-pencil measures or adaptations of these (p. 5) measures to allow their administration on a computer and in computer-adaptive form. The psychometric qualities of ability tests (including the fact that most produce large subgroup score differences) have been examined more frequently and in more detail than any other selection procedure. Kuncel and Klieger consider the nature of predictive bias in both work and educational settings and the nature of bias itself as it relates to the manner in which differential prediction has been evaluated. In the last chapter in this section, Scott and Lezotte discuss the use of web-based assessment and the special advantages and challenges it presents to selection specialists.

Part VI is a presentation of the manner in which performance is assessed and the role these performance assessments play in selection research and practice. Performance is now viewed in multidimensional terms reflecting the theory of performance espoused by Campbell, McCloy, Oppler, and Sager (1993) as well as others who have pointed to the importance of performance constructs such as organizational citizenship behavior, counterproductive behavior, and contextual performance. These developments, taking place largely over the past two decades, are reflected in this section. Woehr and Roch describe performance ratings that in the past largely reflected what is now called task performance. Objective performance indices, better viewed as the result of performance behavior, are summarized by Borman and Smith. Hoffman and Dilchert describe the constructs and research on the correlates of organizational citizenship and counterproductive workplace behavior. Workers cannot perform if they leave an organization, and in many instances retention may be one of the most important outcomes of a selection system; Woo and Maertz discuss the various types of turnover and related attempts to reduce turnover. With the rapid changes in the economy, organizations, and technology, researchers have become cognizant of the need for employees to constantly adapt and learn, hence Pulakos, Mueller-Hanson, and Nelson present their research and the research of others on adaptive performance. Finally, safety and health outcomes have always been important for workers in high-risk occupations (e.g., mining, construction, agriculture), but they have taken on new importance with the escalating cost of health insurance and care. Wallace, Paul, Landis, and Vodanovich review the research on occupational safety and its implications for selection.

Selection, like all organizational phenomena, does not occur in a vacuum. Many special situations and constraints influence the value of selection. In Part VII, we consider some of these special concerns. Researchers and practitioners have become increasingly aware that the applicant in a selection situation is not passive. Gilliland and Steiner review the theoretical and empirical literature on reactions to testing practices and how these reactions might impact testing practices and the value of those practices. Perhaps one of the most significant changes in organizational behavior research in general has been the appreciation of the fact that variables operate in different ways within and across levels of analysis (i.e., individuals, work groups, organizations, industries). Ployhart outlines the implications for personnel selection research and practice as well as the manner in which personnel selection researchers should proceed to evaluate the importance of considering levels issues. Over the past four decades in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, selection practices have been affected by legislation. Gutman summarizes the legal constraints to selection practice arising from Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and privacy legislation and case law. Beier and Ackerman consider the important issue of time as it impacts performance and how this might affect our evaluation of predictor–criterion relationships. The underlying assumption, supported with some data, is that concurrent criterion-related research provides estimates of these relationships that are equivalent to those studies that are predictive in nature. Even in predictive research the timing of data collection is often a matter of opportunity as opposed to serious theoretical considerations as to how time might affect the measurement of key variables. Organizations and selection researchers have expanded their activity throughout the world and the differences between countries and cultures with respect to common practices are sometimes huge and go well beyond the ability to translate instruments with fidelity. Steiner lists some of these cultural differences and their impact on what organizations can (or cannot) do to select competent individuals in these different cultural contexts. Organizational psychologists must frequently communicate the results of their interventions to organizational personnel who do not understand or appreciate the manner in which professionals in our discipline describe these results. Traditional utility analyses (Brogden, 1946, 1949; Schmidt, Hunter, McKenzie, & Muldrow, 1979) (p. 6) have sometimes proven ineffective in this regard. The two chapters by Sturman and Boudreau provide alternative ways to address client concerns about the utility of our efforts. As mentioned above, legal concerns about the impact of human resource practices on various subgroups in our society have influenced our practice and science. Ryan and Powers review methods that are effective in selecting a diverse workforce and the impact of such diversity on various indices of individual, group, and organizational performance. An increasing portion of today's work is done in teams. Selecting people who are willing and able to work in teams and selecting teams as teams (when individuals bring different but complementary skills to the team) are relatively new problems for selection specialists. Morgeson, Humphrey, and Reeder address these issues in their chapter. Given the economic downturn of 2008–2009, organizations are more frequently faced with the problem of selecting which employees to ask or encourage to leave. Feldman and Ng, in the chapter on “Selection Out,” explore the methods used for decision making in these contexts as well as evidence for their effectiveness organizationally and individually. Finally Bauer, Truxillo, Mansfield, and Erdogan consider the types of temporary or contingent employment opportunities that now exist and the procedures (and unique problems) used to recruit contingent and temporary workers and teleworkers, who are becoming an increasingly larger portion of the workforce of many organizations. Surprisingly, little research on the selection of these workers is available.

In Part VIII of the volume, authors consider the myriad of detail involved in implementing a selection program (see Tippins) and the difficulties associated with sustaining a system in the manner in which it was developed and validated (see Kehoe, Brown, and Hoffman).

In the final chapter (Part IX), Schmitt and Ott-Holland highlight the major research issues and questions that they and the authors of this volume consider to be the most important for the future of science and practice in employee assessment and selection.

References

Campbell, J. P., McCloy, R. A., Oppler, S. H., & Sager, C. (1993). A theory of performance. In N. Schmitt & W. C. Borman (Eds.), Personnel selection in organizations (pp. 35–70). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.Find this resource:

Brogden, H. E. (1946). On the interpretation of the correlation coefficient as a measure of predictive efficiency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 37, 65–76.Find this resource:

Brogden, H. E. (1949). When testing pays off. Personnel Psychology, 2, 171–183.Find this resource:

Schmidt, F. L., Hunter, J. E., McKenzie, R., & Muldrow, T. (1979). Impact of valid selection procedures on workforce productivity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 64, 609–626.Find this resource: