The vital stages in the recruitment process

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Recruitment followed by selection are vital stages in the formation of the expectations that form the psychological contract between employer and employees.

There are power considerations to bear in mind based on labour market conditions. For example, traditional approaches attempt to attract a wide choice of candidates for vacancies before screening out those who do not match the criteria set in job descriptions and personnel specifications (see figure 7.1).

There are wide variations in recruitment and selection practices reflecting an organization's strategy and its philosophy towards the management of people. Employees can be seen as part of:

the primary internal market (see chapter 6)

or the the secondary internal market

Organizations attempt to provide models of psychological and behavioural aspects of people so that judgments can be made about who to admit. At the same time, of course, potential applicants are forming their own 'models' about organizations.

Legal context

In the UK, the key legal provisions are contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (amended in1986), the Disability Discrimination Act 1996 (amended in 2005) and the Race Relations Act 1976 (amended in 2000). All these acts disallow discrimination and in general there are three forms of discrimination which are against the law:

1 Direct - where workers of a particular sex, race or ethnic group are treated less favourably than other workers, for example in a policy to recruit only men to management posts.

Indirect - where a particular requirement apparently treats everyone equally but has a disproportionate effect on a particular group and the requirement cannot be shown to be justified.

Harassment - where there is conduct which violates a person's dignity and creates a hostile or degrading environment.

Victimisation - where individuals are discriminated against because they have exercised their rights under the law.

In recent years, UK legislation has had to respond to directives from the European Union such as the 1998 Data Protection Act and The Human Rights Act was incorporated into UK law on 1 October 2000 to implement the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK. Both affect recruitment and selection processes.

HRM in practice 7.1 - 'Blind jobseekers brought up to speed' provides a creative approach to help visually impaired graduates find job placements

A noted new area of legal activity relates to age discrimination. From 2006, under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, age discrimination in employment and vocational training are prohibited with no qualifying period.

Anti-discrimination legislation over the past 25 years provides the foundation for a growing interest in diversity at work. Recruitment is an obvious place to focus on diversity, especially in the context of global operations but also an increasingly diverse workforce.

Recruitment and attraction

Recruitment and attraction represent vital stages in the determination of which employees will be able to benefit from integrated HRM of policies. Two crucial issues can be highlighted:

there is the need to attract people and this implies that people do have a choice about which organizations they wish to work for

the contribution that people will make to an organization is not totally predictable.

Much will depend on the extent to which the overall management philosophy supports and reinforces an approach to HRM that focuses on the utilization and/or the development of new employees once they have gained entry to an organization. Recruitment and then selection processes aim to attract and admit those whom management view as the 'right' people for such an approach.

With a strategic view of its recruitment requirements and the strategic plan representing the starting point, the goals, objectives and targets set the parameters for performance and how work is organized into roles and jobs. A key role for HR is to align performance within roles with the strategy, frequently by the use of competency frameworks.


Images and values projected by an organization, and information on espoused goals will interact with potential applicants in the external labour markets and determine the degree of attraction to an organization on the part of potential recruits.

The achievement of a compatible person-organization (P-O) fit is explored by the use of Schneider's (1987, p. 437) attraction - selection - attrition (ASA) framework.. (see Figure 7.3). In addition to person-organization (PO) fit, person-job (PJ) fit is concerned with the extent to which there is a match between an individual's skills, knowledge and abilities and the requirements of a job.

In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in online recruitment with three types of approaches:

general recruitment agents

organizations that focus on providing an online recruitment service on behalf of organisations.

Company sites established for recruitment

HRM in Practice 7.2 - 'Bombings raise demand for Met jobs' provides an example of how particular events in the world can stimulate recruitment.

The traditional way of providing information about a job is through a job description (see figure 7.4). The profile of the `ideal' person to fill the job is in the form of a personnel specification (see figures 7.5 and 7.6).

Traditional documents may be limited, relying on subjective judgement and masking discrimination. The drive towards flexibility and changing work practices has seen the appearance of new forms of work descriptions such as performance contracts, part of a re-orientation referred to as performance-based recruitment and selection. Competencies are increasingly used to create a specification of the characteristics of the persons sought for particular positions.

The recruitment ratio can be used to test the success of a recruitment process to see whether a sufficient number of applicants of desired quality are attracted within the budget set.


Organizations use a variety of techniques, and statistical theory is used to give credibility to techniques that attempt to measure people. Organizations also need to consider reactions of applicants to selection methods and an important factor is the perception of fair treatment.

Underlying the process of selection and the choice of techniques are two key principles:

Measuring individual differences

Prediction of performance

Reliability and validity issues

Two statistical concepts have been of particular importance in selection:


Validity, including criterion validity, concurrent validity and predictive validity.

Selection interviewing

The interview is the oldest and most widely used of all the selection techniques, along with application forms and letters of reference, referred to as 'the classic trio' by Cook (1994, p.15). Various attempts have been made to classify interviews according to:

(i) Information elicited

(ii) Structure

(iii) Order and involvement.

There have been two lines of research to examine the reasons behind poor results for the selection interview. The first line focuses on the processing of information by interviewers leading to a decision on acceptance or rejection. The second focuses on the skills of effective interviewing. (see Figure 7.8)

Interviews have been improved by:

situational interviews

behaviour or experience based description interviews

combination with competencies.

Psychometric Testing

Selection based on competencies and attitudes has been one result of increased attention given to personality factors and how such factors predict job performance. In particular, interest has focused on the five factor model (FFM) as an explanation of the factors that determine a person's personality.

Psychometric Tests have a good record of reliability and validity. There are different kinds of test:

Ability tests


On-line testing is also being used for selection and other HR purposes - referred to as e-assessment. It is claimed that on-line testing provides organizations with the ability to test at any time and any place in the world with the added benefit of quick processing of applicants.

HRM in Practice 7.3 - 'Online testing gets top score at Deloitte' considers the case of Deloitte where graduate recruits who score highly in psychometric tests also perform well in their professional exams.

There are doubts about an overreliance on tests with respect to their use in predicting future performance, especially in relation to complex tasks such as management.

Assessment centres

Organizations may combine techniques and apply them together at events referred to as assessment centres. It is claimed that the combination of techniques provides a fuller picture of an applicant's strengths and weaknesses.

Applicants may react negatively to such techniques which may be seen as unfair.

Realistic job previews (RJPs) help applicants form expectations about how the organization will treat them.



Comment on the notion of fairness in relation to issues of selection in organizations.


This question asks you to consider fairness in relation to selection. Consider the balance of power in the formation of psyschological contracts during selection. Labour market conditions may occasionally give power to candidates but many selection techniques used by organizations have hidden limitations which mask unfairness. Consider the legal framework that provides for protection against discrimination; however, there are more intractable difficulties. Iles and Salaman (1995) refer to a 'psychometric model' that is pseudo-scientific, that values individualism, managerialism and utility. These criticisms can be applied to various selection techniques. There is also significant research on each of the main selection techniques and how they measure on reliability and validity. Fairness can be particularly considered in relation to reliabilty. See Cooper &Robertson (2001). There is also interest in face validity of techniques. Examine the work of Bauer et al. (2001) who have sought to measure the reactions of applications for jobs using a selection procedural justice scale (SPJS), work by Phillips (1998) on the role of realistic job previews (RJPs) and Hausknecht et al (2004) on applicant reactions to selection procedures.


The case concerns a software company's attempt to select salesmen/women. It is based on an analysis of behaviours identified by company managers as essential for the role and high performance. They had recently experienced difficulty in selecting candidates although there was no difficulty in attracting applicants. The first task is appropriate documentation but you should first set such documentation in a strategic framework. One of the key developments in recent years has been the linking of strategy to HR practices through the use of competency frameworks. How far could the data in the case be considered for competencies? Review the material in the chapter on selection techniques. Which would you recommend and on what basis? For the question on assessment centres, it is suggested you find some examples and consider how they are organized in terms of techniques, the assessors and the criteria used relating to competencies.