When filling a mid- or senior-level leadership position, organizations are more likely to hire an external candidate than an internal candidate
ï¿½ External candidates were selected more often than internal candidates. External candidates sometimes bring skills that cannot be found within the organizationï¿½s current workforce.
ï¿½ In ECG they are filling a greater number of positions, the percentage of mid- and senior-level positions filled by internal candidates increases
(see Figure 1). ECG are filling more positions might have a better chance of finding qualified candidates within their current workforce. Additionally, larger organizations might be more likely to have well-defined succession management systems to prepare internal candidates for promotion.
Finding 2: Most organizations plan to increase the money spent on both recruiting and selecting candidates.
ï¿½ On average, 33 percent of organizationsï¿½ HR budget is allocated specifically to recruitment and 18 percent is allocated specifically to selection.
ï¿½ Over the next two years, most organizations will increase the amount of money they will spend on recruitment and selection. When adjusting for normal increases due to cost inflation, 31 percent of organizations plan to increase spending for recruitment and 22 percent for selection.
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ï¿½ Almost half the respondents (46 percent) indicated that it is easier to recruit people today compared to one year ago. Less than one quarter (22 percent) feel that recruiting has become more difficult.
Finding 3: In the next year, organizations are likely to change their approach to recruitment Selection practices are not likely to change
ï¿½ Overall, organizations perceive their approach to recruitment (mean = 6.9) and selection (mean = 6.6) to be only moderately effective. Ratings were made using a 10-point scale (1 being not at all effective; 10 being extremely effective).
ï¿½ Figures 2a and 2b show that about one-third (39 percent) of the organizations in our sample plan to significantly change their current approach to recruitment. They were much less likely to change their approach to selection (26 percent).
Part II: Recruitment
Organizations tailor their recruitment strategies to the specific position(s) they are seeking to fill. These strategies may differ depending on the level of the position. The survey asked respondents what strategies they use and the level of effectiveness. Table 1 lists the percentage of organizations using each of the listed strategies, as well as the average effectiveness of each.
Chart 1. Use and effectiveness of various recruitment strategies
Advertisements Percent Average
Using Practice Effectiveness
Internet (e.g., bulletin or job boards) 90 2.59
Local newspapers 64 1.77
Trade publications and magazines 51 1.81
National newspapers 29 1.48
Direct mail 25 1.73
TV or radio 21 1.60
Movie screens 7 1.22
Agencies or Services
Employment agencies 60 2.03
Temp agencies 52 1.96
Government employment services 28 1.47
Job fairs 66 1.83
College recruiting 59 2.16
School-to-work partnerships/internships 42 2.08
Targeted minority recruiting (e.g., NAACP, minority colleges/organizations) , 40 1.74
Partnerships with community organizations 35 1.79
Military recruiting 23 1.76
Retiree job banks 12 1.52
Employee referrals 90 2.57
Companyï¿½s web site 88 2.26
Internal job postings 78 2.23
Walk-ins, unsolicited resumes 67 1.48
Point Of view
1 = Not Effective;
2 = Moderately Effective;
3 = Very Effective
Finding 4: The Internet and employee referrals are the most popular and effective methods for recruiting.
The Internet allows organizations to reach large numbers of candidates easily and efficiently. Thousands of candidates can visit a company web site and submit an application. Similarly, web-based recruiting companies work with organizations to advertise jobs and screen candidates. Although job and company web sites are becoming hot new tools, recruiting methods such as employee referrals are not yet obsolete. Newspapers, job fairs, and professional organizations continue to be preferred methods and are used by well over half the survey respondents.
Finding 5: Organizations rely heavily on internal resources when recruiting candidates
Overwhelmingly, organizations rely on internal job postings and employee referrals to recruit candidates. Many companies also post job openings on the companyï¿½s web site to attract candidates. These are relatively easy, yet very effective ways to identify candidates both in and outside of the company. In addition, posting jobs internally is an excellent method of offering promotion opportunities to all employees and minimizing employee complaints of unfair treatment and unlawful discrimination.
Part III: Selection
Current Selection Practices
Organizations use a variety of practices to select their employees. The survey asked respondents to estimate how often they currently use several practices to evaluate candidates in the selection process. Table 2 indicates the percentage of organizations currently using each practice.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Finding 6: Nearly all organizations use resumes and applications as part of the selection process
The first step in most selection processes involves the collection of basic candidate information. Almost all organizations require job candidates to submit a resume and complete a standard application to summarize education and work history.
Finding 7: Behaviour-based interviews are widely used in selection systems.
Ninety-four percent of surveyed organizations use behaviour-based interviews to at least some extent when selecting employees. Almost all of the organizations surveyed use behaviour-based interviews to some extent as part of their selection process. In structured behaviour-based interviews, candidates are asked to describe specific behavioural examples of their skills. A variety of research studies have been conducted comparing the validity of different interviewing techniques. Behaviour- or experience-based interviews were found to predict subsequent job performance better than other interviewing techniques (e.g., situational interviews) (Pulakos & Schmitt, 1995). More organizations are opting to perform such structured interviews as part of the selection process to increase the likelihood of hiring candidates who will be successful in the positions.
Finding 8: Applicant testing and assessment are not widely used in organizations
Less than 30 percent of organizations reported extensive use any testing or assessment method in the selection process. On average, the majority of respondent organizations do not use any form of assessment or testing. Only three practices were used by more than 50 percent of the respondents:
ï¿½ Performance/Work sample tests (for example, writing a computer program under structured testing conditions) are used by 58 percent of organizations.
ï¿½ Knowledge tests (tests that measure job-specific knowledge) are used by 56 percent of organizations.
ï¿½ Ability tests (mental, clerical, mechanical, physical, or technical) are used by 52 percent of organizations.
Chart 2. Organizations currently using each selection practice
Selection Practices Not Used Used Sometimes Used Extensively
Reference checks 5 23 72
Applicationsï¿½forms requesting standard, verifiable information (e.g., education or work experience)
12 13 75
Resume screeningï¿½manual 30 24 46
Training and experience evaluationsï¿½providing a checklist of specific skills and/or experiences
44 39 17
Resume screeningï¿½computerized 58 21 21
Biographical data 79 15 6
Testing and assessment
Drug Tests 56 15 29
Knowledge testsï¿½tests that measure job-specific knowledge
44 40 16
Performance/ Work sample testsï¿½for example, writing a computer program under structured testing conditions
42 45 13
Ability testsï¿½mental, clerical, mechanical, physical, or technical
48 37 15
Motivational fit inventoriesï¿½candidate preferences for the job, the organization, and location qualities
58 29 13
Assessmentsï¿½role plays and simulations
57 34 9
Personality inventoriesï¿½MMPI, Hogan, Myers-Briggs
68 22 10
Integrity tests 86 11 3
Behavior-based interviewsï¿½asking candidates to describe specific examples of their skills
6 39 55
Situational interviewsï¿½asking candidates to respond to a hypothetical situation
18 46 36
Computer-assisted interviewsï¿½a computer screens candidates based on their responses
80 16 5
The selection practices an organization uses depend on the positions to be filled. Selecting candidates for various positions typically requires different practices or methods. Using tests to measure mechanical, clerical, or other types of abilities might be more appropriate for certain jobs (e.g., plumber, administrative assistant) than for others (e.g., manager). Assessments are typically used for assessing critical competencies required for upper level positions and might not be appropriate for lower-level jobs (Byham, 1992). Thus, organizations that use testing as part of the selection process must be sure that the tests are not only appropriate for the positions under consideration, but also those they are valid measures of the knowledge, skills, and abilities for which they are intended
Future Selection Practices
Respondent organizations were asked if they expect to use various selection practices less, about the same, or more over the next three years. Figure 3 shows the net percentage change in use of the practices (i.e., percent indicating more usage use minus percentage indicating less usage).
Finding 9: In the future, organizations will make much greater use of behaviour-based interviewing
Nearly 40 percent of organizations plan to use behaviour-based interviews more frequently in the future. Although most of the surveyed organizations currently use behaviour-based interviews to some extent, many plan to use them more frequently in the future. This type of structured interview is applicable to most positions and can be used to validly predict future behaviour in competencies critical to success on the job. In addition, this type of interview can have a positive affect on candidatesï¿½ attitudes toward an organization. It has been found consistently that the more job-related questions candidates are asked during the interview, the more they are attracted to an organization (Dipboye, 1992). And behavior-based interviews focus on behaviors that are relevant to the target job. Thus, this interviewing technique not only predicts future performance, but is also well received by applicants.
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Finding 10: Technology will play a greater role in resume screening and interviewing selection methods.
In the next three years, nearly half of the organizations surveyed will increase their use of computerized resume screening. New technology allows thousands of resumes to be screened in a fraction of the time it takes to screen them manually. Organizations can now receive, store, and review resumes via the computer. Large resume databases can be maintained, and qualified candidates can be identified for specified positions with minimal time and effort. Figure 3 shows that 28 percent more organizations will use computerized resume screening in the next three years. Additionally, 12 percent will make greater use of computer-assisted interviewing. Computerized selection systems can be used to administer tests and manage data from interviews or other selection tools, thereby streamlining and standardizing the process for collecting information.
Finding 11: In the next three years, organizations will make greater use of testing methods for selection.
Organizations expect to increase their use of various testing and assessment tools in their selection systems. Testing and assessment are structured approaches to assess different skills, abilities, knowledge, or traits and can be used to screen or select applicants for many positions. Although interviews and background information from reference checks and applications tell us much about job candidates, testing methods can add significant value to the selection process. In the next three years, many organizations will increase their use of knowledge tests (22 percent), performance/work sample tests (17 percent), ability tests (14 percent), and motivational fit inventories (13 percent). Using standardized measures of skills, abilities, or knowledge can significantly reduce the candidate pool and eliminate those without the minimum qualifications for the job. Work sample tests and assessments are designed to provide candidates with activities that are representative of job tasks. Candidates generally accept these tools as face valid and appropriate for selection. Work sample tests and assessments also give candidates a realistic job preview and can help them determine if the job is right for them.
Best Selection Systems
Respondent organizations were asked to rate the effectiveness of their selection strategy using a 10- point scale (1 being not at all effective; 10 being extremely effective). Then we correlated system effectiveness with use of the various selection practices. The selection practices with significant correlations to overall system effectiveness can be considered best practices overall.
Finding 12: Four practices distinguished effective selection systems from less-effective systems.
Organizations with highly effective selection systems use four practices significantly more extensively than organizations with less-effective systems:
Practice 1: Behaviour-Based Interviews
Organizations with highly effective selection systems reported using behaviour-based interviews more often than those with less-effective systems. Behaviour based interviews enhance the effectiveness of the selection process by:
ï¿½ Focusing on job-related behaviours.
ï¿½ Obtaining accurate behavioural data.
ï¿½ Using past behaviour to predict future behaviour
Practice 2: Motivational Fit Inventories
During the selection process, many organizations focus only on assessing the skills necessary to perform the job. However, skill is only one factor related to job performance. Job motivation and organizational fit also must be taken into consideration (Byham, 1989). A candidate might have all the skills necessary to perform the job tasks, but not be motivated by the factors associated with the particular job or by the companyï¿½s values and way of doing things. Thus, assessment of these motivations can help identify candidates who not only have the ï¿½can doï¿½ aspect of the job, but also have the ï¿½will do.ï¿½
Practice 3: Computerized Resume Screening
As mentioned previously, computerized resume screening greatly reduces the time HR professionals must spend sifting through nonstandardized resumes. Now, HR can gather resume data in a standard, computerized format or use special software to scan and process resumes. Large banks of applicant data ensure that when new jobs arise, the database can be easily searched for potential matches.
Practice 4: Training/Experience Evaluations
The premise underlying training and experience (T&E) evaluations is that they assess job-relevant abilities, skills, and motivations. It is assumed that individuals who have successfully performed job relevant tasks requiring these skills and abilities in the past will also be successful in performing similar tasks in the future. T&E evaluations can be used as a screening device for positions in which previous experience and training are necessary for job performance.
Part IV: Barriers to Effective Recruitment
Respondents were asked to choose five factors that present the largest barriers to effectively recruiting and selecting candidates for employment (see Table 3).
Finding 14: Finding and competing for qualified applicants are the main barriers to effective recruiting and selection practices.
It appears that there are fewer qualified candidates available for organizations to choose from. First, as the baby boom generation approaches retirement, fewer applicants are in the job market; second, those who are available might lack the skills organizations are looking for. Thus, it is difficult for organizations to identify and eventually hire potential qualified candidates.
Finding 15: Most candidates who refuse job offers do so for reasons related to compensation.
Once an organization has identified a strong candidate and made a job offer, there is still no guarantee that the candidate will accept. When asked to indicate the most common reasons why candidates refuse offers, most respondents cited problems with compensation (Table 4). However, this does not mean that candidates are interested only in compensation.
Table 3. Top ten barriers to effective recruiting and selection of candidates
Barriers Response (%)
Hard to find candidates with specialized skill sets. 68.4%
Other organizations competing for the same applicants. 64.7%
Difficulty in finding and identifying applicants. 49.0%
Fewer qualified applicants available. 45.6%
Job roles are increasing in scope. 42.3%
Selection process is slow or cumbersome. 37.8%
Obtaining management buy-in for selection systems or tool 25.2%
Insufficient number of human resource staff. 23.3%
Developing or choosing valid selection tools . 22.6%
Other reason (miscellaneous). 12.9%
leave their positions often do so for reasons other than money (Bernthal & Wellins, 2001). However, oneï¿½s starting salary can have major implications for long-term earning potential, and candidates often use salary to help decide among similar competing offers.
Table 4. Why candidates refuse job offers.
Refusal Reasons Response (%)
Pay not competitive. 53.7%
Other offer made first. 33.0%
Relocation too disruptive. 23.8%
Poor cultural fit. 21.3%
Lack of growth opportunity. 18.0%
Byham, W. C. (1989). Targeted selection: A behavioral approach to improved hiring decisions (Monograph XIV). Pittsburgh, PA: Development Dimensions International.
Dipboye, R. L. (1992). Selection Interviews: Process Perspectives, p. 118. As cited in R. D. Gatewood & H. S. Field, Human Resource Selection (3rd Ed.). Orlando, FL: The Dryden Press.