Rapid changes in technology have impacted the way in which selection processes take place. These changes have altered the workplace in many ways and have also increased innovation in selection methods that take advantage of cutting-edge technologies. For example, individuals can now conduct job interviews on-line without any face-to-face interactions. These changes have implications for how organizations can best recruit and select talented individuals to help them gain a competitive advantage. This CQ Dossier focuses on some of the most innovative selection methods and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the techniques.
In a recent review of the literature on selection and recruitment, Ployhart and colleagues (2017) describe the goal of identifying talented applicants to enhance job and organizational performance as being the “Supreme Problem.” It is a supreme problem because it is not always evident that an applicant will be a good fit for the organization given all the factors involved in selection.
Identification of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) remains vital
The most important objective is to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) needed for the job and to measure job applicants on the criteria. (Ployhart et al., 2017). Once the KSAs have been identified, then HRM professionals can identify necessary selection methods to determine whether candidates meet the expected criteria (Ployhart et al., 2017).
Selection trends: Big Data, online-testing, team level criteria
Despite all the changes in technology, this principal is still solid. There have been several advances in selection with empirical research that validates some of the key practices. Three of the biggest trends are:
The use of Big Data for selection
Use of online-testing
Focus on team level criteria
How is Big Data transforming the selection process?
The new digital economy has seen a revolution in the use of data analytics across all industries. Human resource management has also seen the use of Big Data in managing HR practices. The use of Big Data analytics occurs when organizations harness their data and analyze the data to improve organizational decision-making.
Identification job competencies required across a wide range of jobs
For example, Big Data analytics can be used in selection in identifying those core competencies required across a wide range of jobs in order to enable interviewers to select applicants who have those competencies. Ployhart and colleagues (2017) also point out that large international companies can utilize data banks to assess the utility of selection tests across several countries.
Information collection from social media
Given the ubiquity of the Internet, organizations can also gain information from unique sources such as information from social media, and this raises the issue of privacy and security for society (Ployhart et al., 2017). However, these security concerns might not be a deterrent for organizations who might use questionable techniques. This issue will become even more important for HRM professionals to guide employers in choosing methods that are ethical and valid (Ployhart et al., 2017).
How is online-testing transforming selection?
One of the growing practices in selection is the use of online-testing for job applicants (Ployhart et al., 2017). Many organizations are using online-testing for large-scale selection efforts (Ployhart et al., 2017). There are many advantages to this type of testing because it allows for a large number of applicants to be screened, the costs are low, it is convenient for both the organization and test-taker, and technology makes it easier to standardize and score tests.
Risk of cheating in online-testing
However, one of the issues with large scale online-testing is that the sessions are typically unsupervised. This raises ethical issues because a lack of supervision can lead to issues of cheating and test security (Ployhart et al., 2017). One way to alleviate this issue is to have a supervised test followed by an unsupervised test that verifies the scores.
Advanced approaches to testing
As Ployhart and colleagues point out, advanced approaches to testing use adaptive testing that is followed by a verification test. However, these types of approaches are still administered in proctored settings. Overall, it is important to recognize that testing can occur through multiple stages and it is best to examine candidates’ scores across a wide range of methods.
How is a focus on team-level criteria transforming the selection process?
One of the new trends in selection is acknowledging that performance criteria operates at both the individual, team, and organizational level. Multilevel theory in organizational behavior is now almost twenty years old and has advanced understanding of connections between different levels of criteria (Klein & Kozlowski, 2000). However, as Ployhart and colleagues state “validity observed at the individual level may not generalize to the firm level.”
Individual performance does not always predict team level performance
This is one of the issues with selection processes in that most tests are conducted at the individual level. However, professionals need to be aware that those capabilities that predict individual performance are not always relevant at the team level. So far, there is little research examining the validity of testing at the team level for selection.
Teams are an important link between individual and organizational performance
A recent review of the work team literature describes the advances made in understanding team processes and capabilities (Mathieu, Hollenbeck, Van Knippenberg & Ilgen, 2017). The review shows that teams are a vital linkage between individual performance and organizational effectiveness. More is needed to identify how team-level criteria can be utilized in selection methods.
Focus will be on selection methods to differentiate effective from ineffective team members
One potential avenue is to identify those competencies that differentiate effective from ineffective team members. For example, a meta-analytic study found that average team member academic competence was related to team performance; however, it was unrelated to team cohesion (Mathieu, Kukenberger, D’Innocenzo & Reilly, 2015). One of the problems with this type of study is it examined intra-team competencies yet still did not identify individual competencies that are also important at the team level. More research on this growing area in the field of selection is needed.
Technology enables new and innovative selection processes
In conclusion, there are several innovative selection methods that enable organizations to gain a competitive advantage through the people that they hire. New technology has opened the door to innovative selection processes such as online testing and the use of Big Data to develop advanced selection methods and criteria. However, it is important that organizations and HR practitioners are judicious in embracing these new innovations to meet professional and ethical standards.
Critical appraisal of cutting-edge selection processed: Solidity rating 3
Based on the empirical evidence for the use of cutting-edge techniques in selection, this dossier is assigned a Level 3 rating, (Based on a 1- 5 measurement scale). A level 3 is the mid-way point. To date, the latest selection methods are still in their infancy. However, there is evidence that techniques such as online-testing can be effective for recruiters if secure methods are used to ensure validity and reliability of criteria.
The principal of identifying KSAs to select appropriate candidates is still solid
Three of the biggest trends are the use of big data, on-line testing, and a use of team- level criteria
Organizations can use large databanks to assess utility of selection tests
There are issues of privacy and security in using online data
Online testing has many advantages but there are issues of cheating
Further research is need on how to align individual competencies with team criteria
References and further reading
Kozlowski, S. W. J., & Klein, K. J. (2000). A multilevel approach to theory and research in organizations: Contextual, temporal, and emergent processes. In K. J. Klein & S. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.), Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions, and new directions (pp. 3-90). San Francisco, CA, US: Jossey-Bass.
Mathieu, J. E., Hollenbeck, J. R., Van Knippenberg, D., & Ilgen, D. R. (2017). A Century of Work Teams in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102, 3, 452-67.
Mathieu, J., Kukenberger, M., D'Innocenzo, L., & Reilly, G (2015). Modeling Reciprocal Team Cohesion-performance Relationships, as Impacted by Shared Leadership and Members' Competence. Journal of Applied Psychology 100, 3, 713-734.
Ployhart, R. E., Schmitt, N., & Tippins, N. T. (2017). Solving the Supreme Problem: 100 Years of Selection and Recruitment at the Journal of Applied Psychology. Journal of Applied Psychology 102., 3, 291-304.
Annette was born in England and now lives in the United States. She has a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has taught at several institutions. Annette has published in several journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and Organizational Research Methods. She worked in the public and private sector for many years, primarily as a management trainer.