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This report examines the Selection practices at Elgin Pharmaceuticals. It highlights benefits associated with using general mental ability as an assessment technique alongside semi-structured interviews for selecting qualified staff for the children centre. It also highlights some of the pitfalls linked with using general mental ability as a sole assessment technique for selecting such group of employees.
It further makes a proposal on how the selection process can be made more effective such that the organization is able to attract and retain capable staff with significant childcare and relevant teaching experience for its crèche and child development centre.
Review of Selection Process
As noted, the current selection technique in Elgin Pharmaceuticals is via General Mental Ability and Semi-Structured Interviews. However using General Mental Ability as a sole assessment technique for selecting child development centre staff does not offer high predictive validity for such group of employees because it doesn't give a true picture of candidates' future performance on the job role.
However, the test of mental ability as noted by Taylor (2008) has its own advantage when compared to other selection methods. For instance it is cheap to administer and has high transportability i.e. they do not have to be designed afresh for each job, each organization or country. In addition, it helps to measure candidates' numerical literacy and verbal reasoning.
However using ability testing as major selection criteria for a crèche and child development centre has its own drawbacks.
Firstly it is likely that candidates would have encountered the same test on number of occasions therefore boosting their chances of having high scores as practice can help raise performance (Taylor, 2008).
Secondly, poor performance can also be as a result of candidate anxiety or failed test-taking strategies such as rushing or guessing answers rather than risk failing because they have not managed to complete all questions within the set time frame (Whalley and Smith, 1998).
Wood and Payne (1998) also commented that such test tends to disfavour members of lower socio-economic groups and ethnic minorities whose first language is not English because of the requirement to complete them speedily.
In addition candidate selection based solely on mental ability tests are inappropriate because other factors other than mental ability tend to determine success or failure in job roles and candidates who have the potential of succeeding in the job role would have been weeded out as a result of low test scores. Pfeffer and Sutton (2006) in support of this commented that peoples performance vary over time. Thus any measurement taken at a single point in time such as when someone is being hired will have error and imprecision.
Mental ability assessment also has its own benefit as crèche and child development centre staff are expected to have a degree of numerical literacy and verbal reasoning when dealing with children. However selecting candidates solely on mental ability for a crèche and child development centre is a not good measure of candidates' future job performance. Results from such test should be used as a backup to other selection techniques rather than as the main determinant of hiring decisions (Taylor, 2008). This is in line with the IPD Guide (1997) which recommends that selection decisions should not be made through psychological tests alone but inferences made from such test should always be backed up with data from other sources. As a result, any skills tests must be directly related to the role and measured against objective criteria such as emotional intelligence, communication and relationship developing skills as well as creativity.
It is therefore essential to select candidate who best fit the job and whose performance in the selection process best predict future job performance suitability for the job (Storey, 2007).
Selection interviews is important as it helps interviewers to ask questions and to provide answers to whether individuals are competent enough to do the job, well motivated and to help determine if individuals will fit into the organizations culture (Armstrong, 2006). Using a semi-structured format is an added advantage as such approach would allow interviewers plan series of questions to ask during the interview and also provides avenue to follow-up what interviewees say with supplementary questions. In addition, all candidates are asked same questions which allows for comparisons and more informed judgement of candidates' suitability for the job role.
Proposal for the Recruitment and Selection process
Hiring competent people is of great importance and this is highly dependent on the effectiveness of the recruitment and selection technique which aims to select the right candidate while also rejecting the wrong ones. Smith and Graves (2002) emphasised that the importance of this cannot be underestimated because a poor recruitment decision has high cost implications which can be in the form of lower productivity, potential loss of clients, training costs, advertising costs, recruitment fees and redundancy packages (cited in Bach, 2005).
The first step to take during a recruitment and selection process is HR planning. This includes identifying number of positions, wage, forecasting internal supply and external supply. However the children centre is a new service to be offered by Elgin pharmaceuticals. Thus obtaining suitable candidates will be via external recruitment as people with the right skills are not currently available in the internal labour market.
Report published by labour market statistics (2010) show that unemployment rate as at May is at 8.1 per cent and there were 216,000 unemployed people in Scotland. This implies a favourable external labour market condition for the Children's Centre in which it can tap into a wider pool for external candidate.
Effective job analysis is an essential foundation of any recruitment and selection practice because it provides information on which to base the job description and person specification. Pearn and Kandola (1993) described job description as a systematic procedure for obtaining detailed and objective information about a job, task or role that will be performed.
A common approach used in generating job analysis data is by observing a job older at work over a period of time and then recording what has been observed. Thus there is a need for HR department to consult and liaise with other childcare providers such as neighbouring children development centres to get permission to gain access in other to observe job holders whose duties are to cater for the young ones.
However as noted by Taylor (2008), a weakness of this observation tactic is the strong possibility that the individuals being observed are unlikely to behave as they usually do when performing their job duties. Thus it is the duty of HR department to carefully train the job analyst in good observation tactics before introduction into the workplace.
A written job description will be the outcome of the job analysis process, containing vital information on the job duties and responsibilities of the job holder. In addition it will assist in the writing up of job advertisements which will be given to the recruitment agency hired to undertake part of the recruitment process.
Furthermore it will help in making decisions about whom to select from among the pool of possible candidates. Such job description as highlighted by I&DEA (2007) should include daily job activities like:
Welcoming children and parents in the morning and settling the children to various play activities, such as painting, drawing, toys, water play, etc.
Organising and leading group activities such as singing, music, mime, role-play, number and word games.
Talking to and interacting with the children, keeping a watchful eye on the children's behaviour, encouraging shy children to participate, maintaining discipline e.t.c.
Another piece of documentation that is derived form the job role analysis is the person specification. It will list the criteria the children's Centre proposes to use in short listing and selecting candidates to fill the job concerned.
As noted by Taylor (2008), a typical person specification should include information under a number of headings such as skills, knowledge, personality attributes, education, qualifications and experience.
Qualifications to be considered will be CACHE Diploma in Child Care and Education, NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Early Years Care and Education or BTEC National Diploma in Early Years. In addition, essential skills required are enthusiasm, communication and listening skills, patience, creativity and team working skills.
The recruitment process will require Elgin Pharmaceuticals to sell themselves in the relevant labour market so as to maximise the pool of well qualified candidates and the right mix. To secure applications from a reasonable field of candidate more needs to be spent on advertising.
Advertisement can be made locally in local newspapers, employment sections in childcare publications, newsletters, notice boards at educational institutions or local council amenities such as community centres. Although such trade publications cost less, local newspapers have wider readership. Newspaper Society (2005) showed that despite majority of households now having access to the internet, only 12 per cent of adults' first look to the web when seeking a new job compared to 51 per cent who look first in their local newspaper. This also helps to attract mature applicants.
A variety of different external agencies can also be used to undertake part of the recruitment process such as recruitment consultants or head hunters. Such agencies will draw up the job advertisement, sift through applications, short list candidates and then forward suitable candidates to Elgin pharmaceuticals for final assessment and selection. An advantage of using head hunters is that the time implication of having to place advertisements, short list and then call candidates for further assessment is taken off the organization.
Taylor (2008) points out that head hunters sell jobs to the potential candidate and then sell the candidate to the employer thus opening up confidential channels of communication with high flying employees working for competitors. As such, it allows the recruiting organization to tap into applicants not actively seeking for a job but who have the necessary expertise and qualifications. Therefore, it is essential to select head hunters with expertise in crèche and child development who understands the needs of the business. Reputable recruitment agencies are: Bresta Recruiting, Capita Eductaion, Protocol recruitment e.t.c
The HR implication for using head hunters is to implement strong retention strategies because head hunters can often return to poach employees later on behalf of a rival employer as noted by Taylor (2008). In addition staff turnover affect services in many ways e.g. disruption in the continuity of care provided for children, the cohesiveness and morale of the team can be challenged and management tasks such as interviews and staff inductions can become repetitive, having its own cost and time implications (Rowell, 2010).
Shortlisted candidate (10 nursery and 15 pre school staff) should be made to go through an assessment centre as validity studies have consistently found assessment centre techniques to have good predictive validity.
This involves shortlisted candidate undergoing a variety of different test at the same time in a chosen location. Such will include the semi structured interview, mental ability and personality tests to determine candidates' numerical literacy or verbal reasoning, candidates' personality whether extroverted or introverted and other exercise to test for specific competencies such as in-tray exercises, group exercises to determine teamwork and communication skills, presentations and role plays. Taylor (2008) points out that the use of many different selection tools accounts for the high predictive validity of assessment centres. It is also important to come up with selection criteria. Such selection criteria according to Rowell (2010) may state that the applicant should be able to:
Create plans to meet the individual needs of children and families.
Engage in professional development opportunities.
Apply training outcomes to daily practice.
Furthermore during the assessment, assessors are able to observe candidates actual behaviour and reactions in workplace situation by providing life scenarios of a typical work environment. For example how a job holder would handle a child that won't stop crying or how to stimulate children's interest in classroom activities.
Candidates are thus appointed from direct observation of their behaviour in circumstances similar to those they are likely to encounter in the classroom.
Running an assessment centre is quite a time consuming and costly process. The future benefit however lies in not having to conduct a recruitment and selection exercise all over again due to selecting the wrong candidate in the first instance.
Selected candidates from the assessment centre (5 nursery and 8 pre school staff) should also be made to go through a semi-structured interview in which final candidates are selected from.
This allows the interviewers plan series of questions to ask during the interview and also provides avenue to follow-up what interviewees say with supplementary questions and gives room for comparison with other candidates. Furthermore interviewees are able to ask candidates questions based on their past job experiences and assess other skills that might not have been accessible through the various tools used in the assessment centre in other to ascertain candidates' suitability for the job roles. Moreover, it provides room for candidates to ask questions and also make a decision as to whether to enter into a relationship with the organization.
It is important to be aware of relevant legislations on selecting childcare staff. In the UK, anyone applying for a job that involves caring for young people is required to undergo a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check. The Criminal Records Bureau acts as a 'one-stop-shop' for organisations, checking police records and in relevant cases, information held by the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (EET, 2009).
This will help Elgin Pharmaceuticals to have a thorough knowledge of the background of selected applicants and also ensures that employees are suitable and those using the services can have a high degree of confidence in them.
Action Plan: 1st September, 2010
How to Provide
Who will Provide
Timing, Other HR Implications
-Design jobs and person specification
-Prepare wages by comparing with current labour market
-Forecast external supply using data by ONS or other independent survey
Neighbouring Child Development Centres
-Job Analysis identifies personality traits required to do the job
Need for HR to train Job Analyst acting as observer
Recruit Nursery Staff (4) and Pres School Staff (7)
-Head Hunters Employment Agent
HR, Head Hunters
Head hunters charge 30% of first years salary
-Head Hunters allows tapping into applicants who are not actively seeking for jobs but with the right skills and experience
Select Head Hunters with expertise in childcare. Use selection method with high validity
-Semi- structured interview
-£115 per candidate
-Test on work related ability.
- Predictive validity
Assessors to be trained.
CRB check for successful candidates.