the Recruitment and Selection Systems


The importance of recruitment and selection systems in the 1990s has been recognised by many researchers. As Herriot (1989, P1) described the issue, "The events of the 1990s will create such demands for change upon organizations that many will go under. The major reason they will do so is that they will fail to recruit and retain the people they need to help them change. People make the place and people set the pace". Now a day's different organizations follow different recruitment and selection processes. In some organizations the costs of selecting ineffective staff mount indefinitely, because the organization lacks the mechanism or the will to dispense with their services. For example Everything about Sainsbury's is governed by its goal and values. Key to recruitment is the value of Sainsbury's being "a great place to work" for all colleagues, regardless of age, sex, etc. Sainsbury's also wants to ensure that employees with talent are given the chance to achieve their full potential in the company. With this in mind, the company has an "open to all" policy for apprenticeships.

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Recruiting & selecting right people can help bring down turnover. It is not always possible to recruit people with high qualification and experience but a consistent and structured approach can help maintain the standard of recruits. Companies must accept that perfect candidates are not always available; hence they should focus on recruiting people with the potential to do the job well. Psychological tests and competency based interviews can help achieve this aim to a greater extent. (IDS, 2004)

In this chapter, the works of different authors and researchers over different time periods would be reviewed and analysis in depth. This analysis would help a great deal in finding out more effective and productive ways to recruit and retain the staff in Sainsbury's.

2.2 Different Approaches to Recruitment and Selection

According to Gatewood and Field (2001) "Employee selection is the process of collecting and evaluating information about an individual in order to extend an offer of employment".The terms recruitment and selection are often considered together, but they are in fact distinct human resource management activities. While recruitment involves actively soliciting applications from potential employees, selection techniques are used to decide which of the applicants is best to fill the vacancy in question. According to Aaker, (1989) "recruitment and selection lie at the heart of how businesses procure human resources required to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over rivals". According to Herriot,(1989)"The focus of recruitment and selection is on matching the capabilities and inclinations of prospective candidates against the demands and rewards inherent in a given job" In the view of Wood and Payne(1998,p2) " recruitment covers everything from advertising to induction while selection is more about when a decision is made about who to recruit and it is more concerned with the instruments and methods used to assess candidates"The goal of recruitment and selection is:

To obtain a pool of suitable candidates for vacant posts

To use and be seen to use a fair process

To ensure all recruitment activities contribute to company goals and a desirable company image

To conduct recruitment activities in an efficient and cost effective manner

To meet the organizations legal and social obligations regarding the demographic composition of its work force.

2.3 The Importance of effective Recruitment and Selection Methods

The important concepts of validity, reliability, and popularity provide dimensions for probing the potential and the limitations of different selection methods. The validity of a selection method is the extent to which it measures what it intends to measure .Selection methods are described as relevant issues and debates exposed and the fit within the overall recruitment and selection system discussed. According to Greuter, & Algera (1989, p143) "Developing and applying selection procedures cannot be done without some form of criterion development and job analysis, no matter how rudimentary" Much of the research work in this area has focused upon the accuracy of psychological tests, interviews and other selection methods in predicting successful job performance (Salgado, 1999) has attempted to address the following two fundamental questions:

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How can selectors ensure that candidates they chose are the ones who will perform better than rejected applicants?

How can successful job performance be measured so that judgments can be made about the accuracy of section decisions? The popularity of selection methods in UK organizations provides another comparative dimension, with three broad groupings identifiable. Interviews, references and application forms, termed the classic trio, have almost universal popularity despite evidence of low predictive validity and lack of reliability in practice. Ability tests, personality assessment and assessment centre's have medium, but increasing, popularity and bio-data, graphology and astrology have low popularity (Shackleton and Newell,1989)

Psychological research shows that references and interviews are inaccurate selection methods. Accuracy can be divided into two issues, namely reliability and validity. A good

selection method is reliable and valid. According to Mark(2004,p8) "A valid selection method accepts good applicants and rejects poor ones" A recent survey in Belgium (Stinglahamber, Vandenberghe &Brancart, 1999) even reports that a candidate who does not like organisations assessment methods may stop buying its products.

2.4 Good Practice of Recruitment and Selection

Good recruitment and selection is important because well-thought-out, agreed and communicated policies, procedures and practices can significantly contribute to effective organizational performance, to good employee relations and to a positive public image. Ineffectiveness in recruitment and selection may lead to poor work performance, unacceptable conduct, internal conflict, low morale and job satisfaction and dysfunctional labour turnover.In recent years, there has been much interest in the concept of "best practice" models of HRS in both the UK and USA. According to Guest (2002:2), "Best -practice borrows from expectancy theory and implies that all the above -competence, commitment, motivation and effective job design-need to be present to ensure the best organisational outcomes". Positive employee behaviour should in turn impact upon establishment level outcomes such as low absence, quit rates and wastage as well as high quality and productivity".

Figure.01 A good practice recruitment and selection process

The universal application of best practice models is contested by some writers. They are called High Performance Work Systems (Appelbaum et al.2001), "High Commitment"(Guest 2001) or "High Involvement"(Wood,1999).In a more recent North American study, Pfeffer(1998) identifies seven basic components of best practice HR practice. His underpinning analysis is based on the importance of the "human equation" in organisations, enabling "profit" to be "built by putting people first". His seven components are:

Employment security and internal labour markets

Selective hiring and sophisticated selection

Extensive training, learning and development

Employee involvement, information sharing and worker voice

Self-managed teams/team working

High compensation contingent upon performance

Reduction of status differentials/harmonisation

2.4.1 Job Analysis

Job analysis is thus not only concerned with data on the content of a job or the tasks that it entails. It also looks at how each job fits into the organization, what its purpose is, and at the skills and personality traits required to carry it out. Pearn and kandola (1993,p1) defines "job analysis as a form of considered research and defines it simply as a systematic procedure for obtaining detailed and objective information about a job, task or role that will be performed or is currently being performed"

According to Legere (1985, p1 327) "Occupational analysis is a business investment. It requires considerable expenditure of funds, human effort, and time. These costs however can be amortized over a period of time, during which the data base can be used to avoid costs, tailor programs, increase efficiency and flexibility, improve quality control and effect operational change. The data developed during occupational analysis can serve initially to validate existing programs, to document or articulate specific program needs, and to

influence almost every aspect of the personnel management program within that occupation"

The job analysis process generates information which is converted into the tangible outputs of a job description and a person specification and it is important to distinguish between two outputs. The information to be collected includes:

Data which identifies the job and locates it within the organizational structure

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Job objectives and performance measures

Accountabilities, responsibilities and organizational relationships

Job duties and content

Terms of employment and work conditions

Skills, knowledge and competencies required

Other distinctive job characteristics

Informal and formal job analysis methods are available and include questionnaires, interviews, observation, critical incident techniques, the use of standard checklists and the keeping of work logs and diaries (Pearn and Kandola, 1993)

The benefits just described are directed towards management, and especially towards line management. There are also benefits to individuals from job analysis.

They can be given a clear idea of their main responsibilities

They are provided with a basis for arguing for changes or improvements in their job

They are provided relevant information in respect of any appraisal they may have

They have an opportunity to participate in setting their own short term targets or objectives.

As Ungerson (1983,p1) puts it "job descriptions, like all other products and activities of the personnel function, must be useful to line managers and be seen to contribute to efficiency and profit or they will fail in their purpose"

This is a somewhat uncompromising view of personnel's role in job analysis. Even if one took a less subservient view of personnel's role, it would be necessary to recognize the importance of winning and maintaining the confidence of line managers in work of this nature. Which as pointed out by Roff & Watson (1962, p2)

In general terms, job analysis systems can be divided into the following:

Job-oriented techniques concentrate on the work being done

Content-oriented techniques are more concerned with what the worker does to accomplish the job

Attribute -oriented techniques describes job in terms of the traits or aptitudes that are needed to perform them.

2.4.2 Job Description

Job description is one of the main outputs from the job analysis. Many job descriptions aim to list anything the person might ever be asked to do, so that the employee cannot subsequently say "that's not part my job". Armstrong (2003,p198-199) suggests that "each items in the job description profile should relate to the output or key result areas that the job holder will be expected to achieve or produce ,and that each should therefore state what the job-holder can be held responsible for" it is used some specific way:

Job description as a tool in recruitment: IRS (2003b, p43) found that over 75 percent of employers include copies of job descriptions in application packs and that 82 percent use them when drawing up job advertisements.

Selection about whom to employ from among a range of possible candidates can be taken with reference to descriptions. This helps to ensure that there is a clear match between the abilities and experience of the new employee and the requirements of the job.

As the basis of employment contracts: frequently organizations make specific reference to descriptions in their contracts of employment. IRS (2003b, p44) found that nearly 40% of employers make direct reference to job descriptions in their contracts.

As part of an employer's defence in cases of unfair discrimination: where an individual has been refused employments or promotion and believes that this is on account of direct or indirect discrimination, he or she may threaten the employer with legal action.

As a means by which the employers expectations, priorities and values are communicated to new members of staff: statements can be included in job

descriptions that make clear what the employee is expected to achieve and how he or she will be rewarded for so doing.

Job descriptions encourage people to think of their jobs as being made up of defined activities or duties, rather than to think of their jobs as being made up of defined activities or duties, rather than to think in terms of what they are responsible for achieving for their employers .In response many organisation have moved towards the adoption of accountability profiles or role profiles that focus on achievement rather than a straightforward description of the job.

2.4.3 Person Specifications

The purpose of a personnel specification or candidate profile as it is sometimes called is to make explicit the attributes that are sought in candidates for the job in question. Thus the personnel specification becomes a summary of the most important knowledge, skills and personal characteristics required by the successful candidate in order to be able to carry out the job to an acceptable standard of performance. The specification depends for its relevance on the nature and scope of the job, as described in the job description, amplified where necessary by comments from the manager concerned.

The seven point plan. This plan was devised by Professor Alec Rodger of the national institute of industrial psychology in the 1950s, and has proved to be the most popular model for personnel specifications in the United Kingdom. Its seven points are as follows:

Physical Make-up

What is required in terms of health, strength, energy and personal appearance?


What education, training and experience are required?

General Intelligence

What does the job require in terms of thinking and mental effort?

Special Aptitudes

What kind of skills need to be exercised in the job?


What personal interests could be relevant to the performance of the job?


What kind of personality are we looking for?


Are there any special circumstances that the job requires of candidates?

Another well-known classification of human characteristics for personnel selection is Munro Frasers five point Grading, which is described in detail in his book employment interviewing (1978). Briefly, the five aspects of the individual are as follows:

Impact on others

Acquired qualifications

Innate abilities



Fraser is aware of the over five groups of the over-simplification of personal characteristics implied by his model: We cannot chop a human being up into five separate sections. However, he justifies his position as follows:

"Separating out these five groups of characteristics is no more than a means to an end. Its justification is its utility in concentrating attention on one facet at a time, each of which is a reasonably self-contained and distinct pattern of traits or personal qualities" Frasers model, like Rodgers does make an important contribution to the recruitment and selection processes in organizations. It provides a practical framework for enabling selectors to make reasonably consistent comparisons between one candidate and another.

2.4.4 Competency Frameworks

A competency approach is person based rather than job based. The starting point is thus not an analysis of jobs but an analysis of people and what attributes account for their effective and superior performance. As the research report on competency frameworks in UK organisations (CIPD, 2001:2) states: "The terms competence, competences, competency and competencies are used almost interchangeably leading to some confusion not least regarding whether the term refers to an activity, a personality trait, a skill or even a task" Strebler et al.,(1997) defined "A competency framework is both a list of competencies but also a tool by which competencies are expressed, assessed and measured" According to Wood and Payne (1998) "Competences are also referred to as capabilities, abilities, standards of performance, critical success factors, criteria, dimensions and traits that would lead to better performance"

Competency frameworks are therefore not very different from person specifications in terms of their broad appearance and function. What make them different is the way that

they are developed and the fact that they can be generic to an organisation rather than specific to defined jobs. Whiddett and Kandola (2003,p33) show how in many organization competency frameworks are reflected very strongly in job advertisements, leading to a situation in which people who could play an effective role, but don't share the defined competencies, are put off from applying. They are thus not even given the chance to impress at the selection stage. According to CIPD survey of recruitment and selection processes published in 2003, there was a marked increase in the number of employers using competency based interviews to improve their selection decisions. The percentage of respondents using these rose from 25% in 2002 to 58% in 2003.

2.4.5 Recruitment Advertising

Personnel specifications and job descriptions form the basis of every job advertisement .When labour is in short supply, advertisements need to be able to entice potential applicants, as well as to inform them about the basic features of the job. Even when labour is plentiful, advertisements need to be able to attract candidates for, as Plumbley (1985,p4) points out "both at times when employment is exceptionally high or exceptionally low ,advertisers can receive a poor response: it appears that people prefer to live on state assistance than to risk further redundancy and that those in employment …say put unless the new job offers an exceptional opportunity.." The content of job advert is probably the most important determinant of their success in attracting well-matched candidates. However, research also indicates (Kaplan et al, 1991) that formatting is also important with factors such as the size of the advert, the amount of white space, the inclusion of graphics, and border influencing applicant response levels. According to IRS (2001b, pp34, 2003c) well over £1 billion is now spent each year on recruitment advertising in the United Kingdom.

2.4.5(A) Internal Recruitment

Most private sector employers, as a matter of course, attempt to fill vacancies internally before they consider looking for people outside the organization. (Newell and Shackleton 2000,p116, cipd 2003b,p11).In the public sector, by contrast, it is more common to advertise internally and externally at the same time. Fuller and Huber (1998, p621) identify four distinct internal recruitment activities:

Promotions from within

Lateral transfers

Job rotation

Re-hiring former employees

IRS (2002d) correctly point to an important and problematic feature of internal recruitment, namely the need to manage situations in which candidates are unsuccessful. Turning external candidates down is a great deal more straightforward, because there are no long term consequences for the day to day management in the organization.

2.4.5(B) External Recruitment:

Recruiting external generally more costly and takes more time. However it will introduce new blood and fresh ideas into the organisation.

The main sources of job advertising outside the organization are:

Local newspapers

National newspapers

Technical/professional journals

Via job centre's

Via other agencies like recruitment consultants

Posters at the factory gates

2.4.5(C) Internet Recruitment:

The use of the internet as a recruitment tool has increased substantially in recent years. Over 70% of employers were advertising some jobs on the internet (CIPD2003B, p15). In the same year the Association of Graduate Recruiters found in their research that nearly two -third of graduate recruiters were recruiting online, and that this represented a doubling of such activity from the previous year. While the providers of job-search websites were spending vast amounts of money on TV, cinema and radio advertising, sports sponsorship and public relations activities as a means of raising their public profile.

According to Frankland (2000), the cost of setting up a fully operational website from scratch is about the same as is required to advertise one job prominently in a national newspaper. It is thus easy to see why webpage's carrying job ads have proliferated so quickly: no pain and all gain from the organization perspective (Amos, 2000).Most recent data IRS (2004c) shows that the volume of vacancies being advertised on the internet continues to grow, and that cyber-agencies in particular are gaining greater acceptance by employers. It is reasonable to conclude that more and more people will find their jobs through e-sources as time goes by.

2.4.6 Staff Selection

Once the organizations recruitment activities have succeeded in attracting sufficient number of relevant applicants from the external labour market, the aim of the subsequent selection activities is to identify the most suitable applicants and persuade them to join the organisation. Organisations can choose from a wide range of selection methods, including shortlisting, references, interviews, tests and assessment centres.

2.4.6(A) Shortlisting

The shortlisting of applicants is, then a selection procedure that may be performed purely on the basis of the written information that applicants have supplied or which may involve the acquisition of additional information about candidates, for example by conducting a telephone interview.

The CIPD (2004) point out that telephone interviewing as an initial part of the recruitment and selection process has become more popular, particularly with the growth of call centres. The telephone interview can be used as a legitimate method of testing the telephone manner of applicants.

Some organisations were beginning to use the internet in their shorlisting process for graduates in the late 1990s.By getting students to complete on line career and personality questionnaires which are matched against identified competencies, it is claimed that organisations can filter out as many as 90% of applications at a very early stage in the selection procedure. Jilly Welch (1998,p14)

2.4.6(B) Interviews

If you see the recruitment and selection process as a continuous flow which needs to be designed and planned, then the interview can be considered as one of the components. Almost every employer includes a face to face interview as part of the selection process. The interview continues to be the most popular and frequently used method of selection, even though research studies have found interviews to be poor predictors of future performance in a job According to Farr (1984) "An interview is a social encounter between two or more individuals with word as the main medium of exchange. It is a peculiar form of conversation in which the ritual of turn-taking is more formalized than in the commoner and more informal encounters of everyday life"

A Simple and direct definition of this type of interview is given by Skopec (1986p49), who states that "Selection interviews are usually defined as interviews conducted by employers for the purpose of matching candidates to available job"

Successful selection interviewing in not easy, but generally it is possible for managers and others to improve their skills in their skills in this aspect of their work. By practicing the skills involved and by developing systematic procedures, much of the arbitrariness can be excluded from the situation. A good practice in selection interviewing viewing is provided:

Be prepared

Welcome the candidates

Encourage candidates to talk

Control the interview

Supply necessary information

Close interview

Final steps

2.4.6(C) Ability Testing

According to the CIPD (2003b) ,over 40% of employers now use some form of ability testing when selecting at least some of their employees. There is one further selection method which we have not yet considered- the psychological test, or selection test. The test is usually standardized tests designed to provide and objective measure of certain human characteristics by sampling human behaviour.

2.4.6(D) Assessment Centres

Assessment centres involve assembling in one place several candidates who are applying for the same position and putting them through a variety of different tests. According to CIPD (2003b) assessment centres are used for the selection of some staff by almost half of organizations. Validity studies have consistently found assessment centre techniques to have good predictive ability, and they appear to be liked by candidates too.

The pros and cons of assessment centres can be summarised as follows:


Considerable data about candidates can be collected

Candidates can display a range of knowledge and skills over the course of half to one and

half a days

Has the potential for use as a staff development tool as well as for selection purpose


Complexities of putting an assessment centre together

Costliness of setting up and then running a centre

Assessment centres can not accurately measure tacit skills or capability

2.4.7 Appointments

Once a job offer has been made and accepted, a variety of activities are carried out in order to help ensure that the new recruit becomes, as quickly as possible, an effective, confident engaged and committed member of staff. According to the terms of the employment right act 1996 as amended by the employment act 2202, new employees have to be informed in writing of their main terms and conditions within eight weeks of the start of their employment.

2.4.8 Induction

The effective initial induction has an important contribution to make in encouraging employees to stay who might otherwise have been tempted to leave. Induction is particularly important, as they need to be able to show that there are effective systems in place for introduction of new employees to their jobs and organisations. In an IRS (2003g,

2003h) survey, the most striking finding was that only 35% of organisations across the industrial sectors vary in the induction they offer depending on the employee.

As far as good practice is concerned, IRS survey identified a number of features that employers have found serve to improve the experience of their new starters. These include the following:

Regular updating of induction procedures

Direct consultation with new recruits about how to improve induction

Keeping improvement of induction on the organisational agenda

Making use of several communications methods

Including job related training as part of orientation programmes

Producing an accompanying welcome resource pack

Involving senior managers in orientation sessions

A recent survey in Belgium (Stinglhamber, Vandenberghe and Brancart 1999) even reports that some assessment methods are more popular with applicants than others. Candidates like interviews, work samples and assessment centres, but they do not like bio data, peer assessment or personality tests. Personality tests and graphology are more acceptable in France, although they are still not very popular. Research indicates that people like selection methods which are job related, but they do not like being assessed on aspects which they cannot change, such as personality (Cook M p 19)

2.5 Different approaches to staff turnover:

Staff turnover involves the movement of the staff in and out of the organisation. The level of movement is a good indicator of the stability of the workforce in the organisation. According to Arthur (2001) it is argued that attitude among the younger generation has an impact on turnover and they do not tend to remain loyal to an organization. One of the important reasons is that they see their parents falling victim to corporate downsizing. Arthur holds that younger generation are more interested in challenging jobs rather than huge titles and designations .therefore, in search of challenges they go through jobs and career changes throughout their lifetime.

Hunt (1984,p1) suggests that personnel management, in particular, will become increasingly involved in getting rid of people instead of recruiting them-'In sharp contrast to the search for talent is the dramatic shift in the personnel function from people resourcing to people exiting…'

Some leavers will always be voluntary leavers-the people who move to further their careers or to find greater job satisfaction elsewhere. Nowadays volunteers are increasingly coming forward to accept early retirement. However many leavers will continue to be involuntary, that is to say they leave because the organization forces them out by one means or another. According to Taylor (2002, p6),'It is getting increasingly hard and more expensive to find suitable replacement when people leave, leading to inefficiencies and lost business opportunities'.

Griffeth &Hom (2001) focus on the difference between voluntary and involuntary turnover, which is of major concern to organisations. Voluntary turnover is further divided into functional (exit of sub standard performers) and dysfunctional (exit of effective performers) turnover. The unavoidable resignations (family move, child birth, serious illness etc) are left aside as employers have no control over them. This means the key focus lies now on avoidable as employers have no control over them. This means the key focus lies now on

avoidable resignations. It implies that turnover rates need to be calculated down to department level to identify the problematic areas.

2.6 Reasons for turnover in different time periods

CIPD report (2005b) identifies different reasons for people leaving the organisations such as attraction of a new job or dissatisfaction with the present one to seek alternative employment. Sometimes domestic reason such as relocation of the partner can be the cause of turnover. The report also adds that most staff prefers stability of jobs and hence it is not very common for people to leave when they are happy and satisfied in their jobs even when offered higher pay elsewhere. People only leave when they lack commitment and motivation or they do not see any training and career opportunities. But this is not true for developing countries such as Pakistan as mostly people leave the organizations because of low salaries and easily get attracted to better offers from the competitors. Branham (2005) identified seven reasons why employees leave their job:

The job or work place was not as expected

The mismatch between job and person

Too little coaching and feedback

Too few growth and advancement opportunities

Feeling devalued and unrecognised

Stress from overwork and work life in balance

Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders

According to Moore (2004), "job stressors and lack of job satisfaction are among the

factors that contribute to people's intention to quit their job" there are different reason the employee leave the job. the figure below shows one way into organisation but several ways out.

Fig.02 Staff movement in an organization

The aim of an effective HRM strategy is to reduce the labour turnover wherever possible. When employees leave the job cost is incurred by the store. According to CIPD (2004) survey on labour turnover estimated the average cost of recruitment alone to be £2500,but here too the figures for senior staff were a good deal higher than for those paid at lower rates.

The level of staff turnover can often be a good indicator for employee morale and job satisfaction. It is usually indicates the overall success of the organisation.

Effective recruitment and selection process

Training and development strategies

Career development efforts

Reward systems

2.7 Summary of Literature review:

The literature review has described how valuable the recruitment and selection processes and the importance's of staff turnover in the modern organisation. The literature review in the previous pages, we can conclude that in different time periods different recruitment strategies have been used by different organisations. Sainsbury's also has been using and revision recruiting procedures with the passage of time keeping in view the economic situation in the country. But unfortunately at the moment the recruitment procedures have lost their validity.