Substantive Selection

If an applicant passes the initial screens, next are substantive selection methods. These are the heart of the selection process and include written tests, performance tests, and interviews.

Written Tests: Long popular as selection devices, written tests (paper and pencil tests – though most are now available online) suffered a decline in use between the late 1960s and mid 1980s, especially in the United States. They are frequently characterized as discriminatory, and many organizations had not validated them as job related. The past 20 years however, have been resurgence in their use. It has been estimated that today more than 60 percent of all US organizations and most of the Fortune 1000 use some type of employment test. Managers have come to recognize that there are valid tests available and they can be helpful in predicting who will be successful on the job. Applicants however, tend to view written tests as less and fair than interview or performance tests.

Typical written tests include: (1) intelligence or cognitive ability tests, (2) personality tests, (3) integrity tests, and (4) interest inventories.

Tests of intellectual ability, spatial and mechanical ability, perceptual accuracy, and motor ability have proven to be valid predictors for many skilled, semiskilled and unskilled operative jobs in industrial organizations. Intelligence tests have proven to be particularly good predictors for jobs that include cognitively complex tasks. Many experts argue that intelligence tests are the single best selection measure across jobs. A recent review of the literature suggested that intelligence tests are at least as valid in European Economic Community (EEC) nations as in the United States.

Even the NFL uses intelligence tests in making draft decisions. Eli Manning the first player picked in the 2004 draft (now playing quarter back for the N Y Gnats), scored very high on the cognitive ability test (close to genius kevel) whereas Ben Roethlisberger, the 11th player picked (playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers), scored only slightly above average. (Offensive tackles typically have the highest average scores on the intelligence tests the NFL uses).

The use of personality tests has grown in the past decade, Japanese automakers, when staffing plants in the United States have relied heavily on written tests to identify candidates who will be high performers. Getting a job with Toyota can take up to three days of testing and interviewing. Organizations use numerous measures of the big Five traits in selection decisions. The traits that best predict job performance are conscientiousness and positive self concept. This makes sense in that conscientious people tend to be motivated and dependable and positive people are can-do oriented and persistent. Personality tests are relatively inexpensive and simple to use and administer.

As ethical problems have increased in organizations, integrity tests have gained in popularity. These are paper-and-pencil tests that measure factors such as dependability, carefulness, responsibility and honesty. The evidence is impressive that these tests are powerful in predicting supervisory ratings of job performance and counterproductive employee behavior on the job, such as theft discipline problems and excessive absenteeism.

You may wonder why applicants would respond truthfully to personality and integrity tests. After all, who would answer strongly and disagree to the question “I always show up on time even if they were generally late”? Research shows that although applicants can fake good if they are motivated to do so. It doesn’t appear that this fakery undermines the validity of personality and integrity tests. Why? One speculation is that if faking does exist, those who fake good on selection tests also probably continue to present enslaves in a desirable light once on the job. Thus, this sort of impression management not only helps get people hired it helps them perform better on the job, at least unless taken to pathological degrees.

Performance-Simulation Tests: What better way to find out whether applicants can do a job successfully than by having them do it? That’s precisely the logic of performance-simulation tests.

Although they are more complicated to develop and more difficult to administer than written tests performance simulation tests have increased in popularity during the past several decades. This appears to be due to the fact that they have higher face validity than do most written tests.