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3 Most Effective Personnel Selection Methods For Hiring

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Of the many challenges facing organisations, few are considered more prescient than finding (and retaining) great employees. Personnel selection is perhaps the only challenge which is ubiquitous among all employers regardless of industry, sector, company size, or maturity, as all organisations endeavour to hire the best employees possible. However, this is easier said than done, as human potential is a particularly difficult and elusive construct to measure or predict. Moreover, a plethora of personnel selection tools exist on the market today, making it exceedingly difficult to decide which to incorporate into selection processes.

Fortunately, a tremendous body of academic research is available to answer this question, and highlight the most effective selection tools available to organisations today. To summarise these findings, here are the three most effective personnel selection methods for hiring:

1. Cognitive Ability Tests

When it comes to predicting overall job performance, cognitive ability is king. Research clearly shows that ability tests are the strongest predictors of performance in complex professional, technical, and managerial roles, especially when it comes to “Task Performance” (as opposed to Contextual Performance). The reasons behind their effectiveness are easy to understand. Cognitive ability allows people to learn effectively, solve problems, and make decisions, greatly aiding task performance in any form of knowledge work.

test partnership inductive test screenshot

Ability tests themselves usually measure specific aspects of cognitive ability, such as numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, or inductive (logical) reasoning, and when used as a battery, form an overall measure of general cognitive ability. These assessments are usually completed online, making them highly scalable and convenient for HR teams to utilise. You simply invite your candidates to complete them online, wait for the results, and then screen out the low performers, progressing the successful candidates to the next stage. This makes cognitive ability tests the perfect short-listing tool, especially for volume recruitment processes.

test partnership inductive test screenshot

2. Personality Questionnaires

Personality questionnaires allow you to measure the key behavioural indicators which predict contextual performance, role-fit, culture-fit, and engagement in the workplace. Few personnel selection methods are as versatile as personality questionnaires, allowing organisations to measure the key aspects of human character which are make or break in occupational settings. These assessments are also usually completed online, meaning they rank among the most convenient and scalable personnel selection tools available to organisations today.

test partnership personality test screenshot

3. (Structured) Interviews

The traditional employment interview is perhaps the most commonly utilised late-stage selection method, with almost all organisations using interviews at some stage. Although the academic research does suggest that interviews are incredibly useful tools to predict performance, it also reveals that only structured interviews display this level of predictive validity. This makes intuitive sense, as unstructured interviews inevitably produce unreliable results, as candidates may be asked different questions, some being easier than others.

Although interviews are powerful predictors of performance, unlike ability tests and personality questionnaires they are not scalable selection tools. For example, if each interview requires three hours of preparation, planning, conducting, and then providing feedback, interviewing 1,000 candidates will require 3,000 hours of work. However, with psychometric assessments, inviting 1,000 candidates isn’t much more work than inviting 10, as the process is largely automated online. Because of this, structured interviews are highly effective late-stage selection tools, but make for very ineffective short-listing tools.

"For example, if each interview requires three hours of preparation, planning, conducting, and then providing feedback, interviewing 1,000 candidates will require 3,000 hours of work." - Ben Schwencke

Conclusion

Despite the proliferation of employee selection tools on the market today, these three personnel selection methods represent the pinnacle of effectiveness at predicting performance. All other selection tools should be considered mere supplements to these three methods, and are likely to offer only modest benefits over and above what ability tests, personality questionnaires, and interviews can offer. However, due to the high-stakes nature of employee selection, even modest benefits yield commercially significant results, and organisations are well advised to experiment with personnel selection tools in hopes of maximising the quality of hire.

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Article by

Ben Schwencke

Ben is responsible for client delivery work at Test Partnership and usually serves as the main client of contact. He holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and is a registered test user of ability and personality testing.

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