Human Resource Management

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Employee Selection

Based on Human Resource Management (4th Edition) by Alan Price - published by Cengage

The purpose of this section is to:
  • Evaluate the screening or preselection stage of employee resourcing.
  • Introduce the concepts of validity and reliability in relation to different selection methods.
  • Provide a critical overview of selection methods.
  • Investigate the frequency of use of different selection methods.
In free market countries, the personnel profession has adopted a 'best practice' model which fits the prevailing business ideology. This model prescribes a quest for the 'right (best) person for the job'. To achieve this goal, criteria are used to rate prospective applicants by means of selection techniques, including biographical data, interviews, psychometric tests, group exercises, simulated work samples and even handwriting analysis. The most definitive form of selection is likely to take place within the context of assessment centres, which involve several assessors and a variety of selection techniques. The 'best-person' or psychometric model has achieved the status of orthodoxy in free market countries. Elsewhere different models of resourcing apply. For example, in Japan there is a greater concern with personality and background than presumed ability. Recruits are sought who will 'fit in' with the culture of the corporation; who will be content to build a career within the organization; who will absorb the goals of the organization.
Resourcing decisions

After pre-selection screening, surviving applicants meet the formal decision-making procedure termed ‘selection’. Biased selection processes can result in hiring unsuitable people (false positives); or may lead to a failure to hire applicants who would have been suitable for the job (false negatives).

Sophisticated selection methods are not common in small companies, most of which continue to depend on informal methods for selection decisions - typically references and one or two interviews - although more sophisticated methods such as work samples can be effective (Wyatt et al., 2010). In contrast, large organizations have adopted a range of methods to aid decision-making.

Practicality and Sensitivity

Selection methods must be practical within the timeframe, budget and circumstances prevailing. They must also be able to distinguish between candidates on the basis of suitability - and, perhaps, potential and trainability.

Reliability and Validity

Methods must be consistent over time, consistent between selectors (inter-rater reliability) and show consistency between items/questions intended to evaluate the same criterion. Validity takes three forms:

  • Face validity - does the method evaluate what it is supposed to evaluate?
  • Construct validity - does it evaluate a construct such as 'commitment'?
  • Predictive validity - does it predict the suitability of a particular candidate?

The chapters on employee selection in Human Resource Management and Fundamentals of Human Resource Management (Price, 2011) go into further detail and compare validities of different selection methods.


Fairness is a further requirement: specifically, candidates’ perceptions of the equity of the process. Good candidates are more likely to accept an offer if they consider that the procedure has been fair, effective and considerate while rejected applicants will continue to have a positive view of an organization’s employer brand if they feel they have been fairly treated.

Researching Candidates   >  Interviewing


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