How HR Managers Approach Recruitment Selection

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To analyse the role of HR managers in Recruitment and Selection, it essential to firstly understand what is Recruitment and Selection, in what ways does it affect the goals of the organisations. When an employee leaves an organisation, it affects not only the organisation but also the individual employee and society as a whole (Mobley, 1982, p. 15- 31, cited in Morrell et al., 2001, p. 220). The productivity and efficiency of organisations depend upon the quality of their workforce or 'human capital' and there is a general agreement that its fixed capital is relatively increasing (Wolf and Jenkins, 2006). The HR managers should develop strategic methods for Recruitment and Selection. Schmitt and Chan (1998:239), defined the goals of strategic HRM, 'to acquire deploy and allocate human resources in ways that provide the organisation with a competitive advantage' (Wolf and Jenkins, 2006). Recruitment and Selection is one of the element of an array of HR practices that needs to be integrated into a coherent bundle by organisations in order to support the delivery of cooperate strategy. Recruitment and Selection is the main function of Human Resourcing in organisations (Newell and Rice, 1999, cited in Millmore, 2003, p. 87). Recruitment and Selection as 'The processes by which organizations solicit, contact, and interest potential appointees, and then establish whether it would be appropriate to appoint any of them' (Watson, 1994, p.185 cited in Bratton and Gold, 1999, p.192).

'Recruitment involves the utilization of organisational practices to influence the number and types of individuals who are willing to apply for job vacancies (Rynes, 1991; Rynes & Cable, 2003). Recruitment can focus on internal labour market (like pursuing staff already employed by the organization) or external labour market (like pursuing applicants from outside the organization). Internal candidates can be recruited through internal job postings, word-of-mouth or internship programs'. (Casper) Organisations are undergoing changes in terms of expansion-beyond the local to national and international frontiers. Therefore, recruitment and selection processes used by organisations are becoming more sophisticated. Selection is a process through which a firm chooses an applicant from a pool of applicants for a post, within the organisation by using techniques to decide which applicant is best suited for the vacancy in question by contrast recruitment involves choosing an applicant from an external pool by actively soliciting applications from potential employees. Recruitment is a positive activity where the employers sell themselves into the labour market to increase the pool of deserving candidates, from which employees are chosen. Selection can be viewed as a negative activity as it involves choosing the best candidate. The goal of recruitment and selection processes is to judge the psychological difference between individuals and its relationship to following job performance. The recruitment and selection process has two main characteristics - attraction which determines how an individual becomes an applicant it signifies the two-way power relationship involved in selection and assessment which refers to assessment of application within a work context this is done by using tools like references, curriculum vitas, autobiographical application blanks, interviews, personality psychometric tests and work-sample methods (Searle, 2003). Assessment of suitability for organisational needs reflect priorities in an employer's agenda, rather than a potential employee's concerns (Schuler et al., 1993, cited in Ramsay et al., 1999, p. 65).

In the 1980s, major changes took place in regards to HR practices within the organisations. This was a result of increasing awareness and impact of HR on the firms. During this period the HR policies emerged as a lever for organisations, assisting them in repositioning or strengthening, their place within a particular sector. As a part of resultant changes, selection and recruitment processes were recognised as critical components in successful change management (Iles and Salaman, 1995, p. 203). The integration and internal consistency of HR systems is important for organisational success (Legge, 1995). Recruitment and Selection is one of the tools within the HR strategy.

Recruitment and Selection are a process as shown in figure 1 below


For an HR manager hiring competent people is of paramount importance which can be attained by using effective recruitment and selection processes, with the goal of choosing the right candidate and rejecting the wrong. For example: The Telebank case study (Korczynski et al., 1999, cited in Callaghan and Thompson, 2002), reflects a shift in trend from manufacturing to service sector contribution in the overall economy. In service sector, work and empathy towards the customer plays a prime role in recruitment and other HR processes. It's therefore important for the HR Manager to recruit a staff with the desired attitudinal and behavioural characteristics, induct them in the company's philosophy and retain them. As an HR Manager it is essential to note that selection frequently focuses on attitudes to flexibility and service to customer than skill or qualification levels of the candidate (Redman and Mathews, 1998, p. 60 cited in Callaghan and Thompson, 2002). Also attracting good talent means increase in remuneration rate, better pay package, working conditions, job security and internal career mapping (Arthur, 1994; Appelbaum et al., 2000; Batt et al., 2002, cited in Smith et al., 2004). Bach (2008) defines 'Recruitment' as the process of attracting people who might make an organizational contribution to fill a particular role or job.

Approaches to Recruitment:

Internal Recruitment: Most of the private sector employers, attempt to fill vacancies internally before they consider looking for people outside the organisation (Newell and Shackleton 2000, p. 116, CIPD 2003b, p. 11). Public sector is open to advertising both internally and externally. Fuller and Huber (1998, p. 621) have identified four different forms of internal recruitment activities namely, internal promotions, lateral transfers, job rotation, re-hiring former employees. This is profitable for both the employees and the organisations. Internal recruitment is cost effective and firms do not have to advertise jobs, it can be done by using intranet services, newsletters and staff notice boards. It helps in boosting the morale of the employee, building a strong internal labour force. The organisation also maximises its return on investment in staff training, by bringing in increased motivation, deepened skills and high level of commitment, providing the organisation with a competitive edge leading to organisational effectiveness. Selection is done on the basis of the individual's merit and knowledge. The organisations express their models of employee characteristics and the behaviour required of potential employees through competency frameworks (Roberts, 1997). These frameworks help the organisations to recruit and select the suitable people through sophisticated techniques. There are certain negative aspects of internal recruitment as well; if all the recruitment to all the positions is done internally, it would lead to stagnation, there would be lack of originality and a fall in the organisation's knowledge base. It might so happen that the best suited candidate for the job is not currently working for the organisation. Internal recruitment adds to the long term imbalances of the workforce, the ethnic minorities who are not well represented will be subjected to inequality. IRS (2002d) highlights a problematic feature of internal recruitment; it includes the need of managing of situations in which candidates are unsuccessful. Turning down external candidates would not cause a problem instead turning down internal candidates would create a difficult situation which then needs careful management. Exclusive use of internal recruitment is less common in the public sector organisations, as they believe in advertising all vacancies externally. They do so because they at all levels want to reflect that their staffs reflect the make-up of the whole society. For example NHS and local governments advertise their jobs in newspapers. (Storey, 2007).

External Recruitment: there are lots of different approaches used to attract prospective candidates, more conventional than the other. There are five formal methods used for most of the jobs, these are, Printed media which includes national newspapers, local newspapers, trade and professional journals, magazines. External agencies which includes job centres, outplacement consultants, head-hunters, employment agencies, Forces Resettlement Agency, Recruitment consultants. Education Liaison consists of careers service, career fairs, college tutors, career advisors, student societies. Other media includes direct mail, local radio, teletext, billboards, internet, TV and cinema. Professional contacts consist of conferences, trade union referrals, suppliers, industry contacts.

There are some other methods that can be used such as word of mouth or 'grapevine'. These are cost effective as well. A lot of considerations must be taken into mind before deciding which method to use. For example, it would be inappropriate to advertise for an engineer in a medical journal. Another consideration is the number of applicants each method can yield and the ability of the personnel specialists to administer them effectively. For example, opening a new store would lead in creation of hundreds of new jobs. There is a new method of external recruitment known as E- recruitment or Internet Recruitment. In the first few years of the 21st century it has been noticed that there is an expansion to include vacancies in all work areas over the internet. Over 70 percent of employers were advertising some jobs on the internet in 2003 (CIPD 2003b, p15). The web based recruitment has changed the way the recruitment industry operates, it is a revolutionary development. Internet Recruitment is of four different forms, namely,

Employer websites it involves maintaining pages of vacancy as a part of their organisation's websites. They are cheap to operate for the employee and provide numerous options to the organisation in choosing its employee. This method has drawbacks as well, this approach this viable for large- sized employers within defined labour markets, medium or small scale employers will not benefit from this approach.

Cyber agencies involve making use of specialist employment agencies that operates on the web, well known examples are They advertise the jobs as well as undertake short listing on behalf of employers depending on the CV's sent by candidates. Schreyer and McCarter (1998, p. 222) stated that in time a handful of highly sophisticated, international operations will emerge and carry general job vacancies on behalf of the industrialised world.

Jobsites linked to newspapers and journals includes all recruitment-based websites that runs parallel with job based operations, for example, London Evening Standard. These sites publish jobs which have already been published in newspapers and journals. The advantage of this is that the job - seekers can directly reach the employer's site via hotlink, send an e-mail and search for vacancies in the job bank.

Jobsites operated by employment agencies includes employment agents developing a formidable web presence. The job seekers register with these agencies and browse vacancies using the search engine. The government also advertises its vacancies on the internet via its Learning and Work Bank.

Employee Recruitment and selection is one of the key functions of a manager. The manager has to take the decision whether to recruit internally or externally. WERS survey questioned managers whether internal applicants are given more preference over external applicants while filling vacancies. The majority of the managers responded that both external and internal applicants were treated equally, 10percent preferred external applicants where as one-fifth preferred internal applicants. Large workplaces which consisted of more than 100 employees preferred internal applicants than smaller workplaces. Private sector workplaces preferred internal applicants in comparison to the public sector workplace who preferred recruiting external applicants. This association held for after controlling for workplace size. Managers' preferring to recruit internally was unchanged during 1998 to 2004. HR practices being outsourced is an increasing phenomenon these days. Recruitment and Selection has become one of the outsourced HR practices, depending on the size of the firm. For example: Andrea Ordanini & Giacomo's article is based on outsourcing the decisions of Recruitment and Selection. They stated that an efficient model based on competitive motivations, transaction cost economy was formed and was tested in 276 organisations both medium and large. It was found that both efficiency motivations and competitive issues are important.

Selection is the process by which managers and others use specific instruments to choose from a pool of applicants a person or persons most likely to succeed in the job(s), given management goals and legal requirement (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 221).

There are two key principles underlying the process of selection, they are individual differences, a way of measuring how one individual is distinct from other. They may differ in terms of intelligence, skills, age, experience, etc. Then is prediction, which recognises that individual differences may be a measure of predicting performance at workplace.

Interview is the most common method of selection, as shown in Figure 2 below. However, firms are realising the importance of selection and are applying other methods to bring in effectiveness to the process. Smith and Graves (2002) have highlighted that there are concerns expressed in the literature about the usage of traditional interview methods. Along with the interview, other methods like application forms and letters of reference are used which is referred as 'the classic trio' by Cook (1994, p. 15). Viewed from a psychometric perspective three criteria's are applied to measure the effectiveness of the selection tool (Bratton and Gold, 2007, p. 258). These are validity, concerns the degree of appropriateness of what is being measured, reliability which focuses on accuracy of the data and lastly, usefulness.


Validity can be defined as "the agreement between a test score or measure and the quantity it is believed to measure" (Kaplan and Saccuzzo, 2001, p. 32). The definition emphasises on what does the test offer to measure and what it really measures. Validity may also depend upon the purpose of the test. For example, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a personality-assessment test but is stated that it is a valid test only for development purposes. Validity is a difficult issue to prove, there are four ways to identify validity: face validity, content validity, construct validity and criterion-related validity. Out of these types of validity the most important is the predictive or criterion- related validity.

It involves establishing relation between predictors and the criterion. Face validity is important for people who are taking the test; it depends on the appearance of the test. The test-takers have put in their time and effort to get a job and therefore, should feel satisfied by the assessment and feel it was relevant. It may sometimes have an adverse effect on the test- users who keep deciding which tool to use for selection. Sometimes without accessing the entire information through the manual handbooks about the test, the test-user makes a decision depending upon how the test looks. It may therefore provide false validity and may prove to be a distraction.

Content validity is concerned with accuracy of the theory it covers. It is found in attainment, when a person is required to display their knowledge or skills in a particular area. For example, a test assessing competence of a Personnel Manager would be expected to include items taken from Human resource syllabus. Content validity is the only form of validity which is based on logical information. There are two problems of content validity namely, 'content under- representation', that is when an important component or information relevant to the theory is omitted. The second issue is 'construct- irrelevant variance' that is contaminating the conceptual domain by components which are not relevant. Construct validity was introduced by Cronbach and Meehl (1955) when they stated that underlying each test there is a construct that gets assessed. It assumes that anything can be defined and measured. All the information regarding the definition of the topic that is being assessed and the development procedure for the test should be present in the test manual. The test manual shows the composition of the test and also defines the population used for comparisons. An advantage of construct validity is that the tools occupy a conceptual domain; it is entirely based on theory. The new construction methods use Item Response Theory (IRT). In this theory the test must measure an underlying construct, it should be uni-dimensional, but it does not specify what construct it is or what construct it must be (Schimidt, 2000).

Criterion-related validity states what is being measured to an external criterion. It can be assessed in two different ways, namely, concurrent validity and predictive validity. Concurrent validity can be checked by assessing the test- takers performance, at that particular time in the test as they undertake another assessment. It deals with current level of individual's performance. This assessment is based on the validity of both the test and verifies the validity of the criterion. For example Eyesenck Personality Test. Predictive validity emphasises on the future and assesses the person to reveal the connection between the initial result and the latter outcome, at two separate points. This is an important tool for identifying individuals suitable for promotion to senior roles.

Reliability mainly refers to the stability of a method used to select individuals. There are many types of reliability out of which three are the most important one in relation to selection methods. First being 'Testee' reliability that is the test should provide the same result overtime. Then comes 'Tester' reliability, it states that if one individual is interviewed by two different people and they both have different opinions about him, that is if one is satisfied and the other is not. It can be concluded that the selection method is not reliable. Thirdly, 'Test' reliability states that there should be consistency in the results.

Interview being the most common method of selection which has been noticed above, but research shows that other methods are used in combination with it. The pre- selection method starts first with application forms, CVs and sometimes biographical data consisting of individual's experiences and achievements. It has been noticed that bio data's improve validity. Gathering CV's through internet also improves the early screening process. The other methods used in selection are Interviews it may be structured or unstructured interviews, psychological tests which includes cognitive tests, personality tests, assessment centres which includes interviews, psychometric tests, stimulation of actual work tasks in order to observe job-related behaviours (Cooper and Robertson, 1995).


Smith (1994) differentiated between three forms of individual characteristics that relate to job performance: 'universals' which refers to characteristics relevant to all jobs; 'occupational' which refers to characteristics preferable to a particular job or occupation; and lastly 'relationals' it refers to characteristics relevant in a particular work setting. This structure suggests that it is necessary to match characteristics of individuals with the characteristics of the particular work setting. Research has shown that people who fit in the work setting are more committed and satisfied compared to people who do not fit. (O'Reilly et al.1991). Thus recruitment and selection process is of utmost importance. Organisations have now got the ability to construct appropriate models for recruitment and selection by using reliable and valid techniques. Recruitment and selection are the first stage of interaction between organisations and applicants, which forms the employment relationship. (Bratton and Gold,1999,p.207). Recruitment and selection are a part of the broader process of socialisation. Selectors should be aware of how well particular methods predict future performance (their validity) and of different methods cost, accuracy of tests. Growing awareness of the potential contribution of HR practices to business strategy (Guest and King, 2004) may increase organisational receptiveness to HR involvement (Wolf and Jenkins, 2006). Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that both the methods of recruitment, internal and external are important for the functioning of the organisation and also depends upon the size of the organisation. From the above argument we get a clear picture that managers should be very strategic. They should look at the validity and reliability of every method of selection. For example: we cannot use only CV's to recruit a middle manager.