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Three Useless Recruitment and Selection Criteria

Editorial Team
29/08/2019 3:59 PM

Last week we focused on why the
interview is the worst selection tool due to its low reliability and validity.
This week we will focus on other job selection criteria that are close to
useless but employers still use them regardless of ample scientific evidence
showing little to no relationship with actual job performance.

A cursory look at most job
adverts will show that employers, especially in Zimbabwe, still use age as a
criterion when hiring. Research shows that there is no relationship between age
and performance. If you find that, there is any relationship between age and
job performance it points to a faulty performance assessment tool that is
overrating people based on their age instead of performance. In a seminal
article in 2016 {The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in
Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of
Research Findings
Schmidt found no relationship between age and performance.  What does it mean therefore if employers
continue to put age restrictions when hiring? It means employers and more
specifically managers are looking for opportunities to influence who is
selected. In the process, they exclude very capable people who may not fit the
age range preferred.  The only time it
will be reasonable to use age as a criterion is when you want to omit people
who are over the retirement age and children who are below the employment age
range. Any other reason is wasteful expeditious fishing by poorly informed
managers or just outright corruption.

Another factor often used in job
selection is experience in a similar role or such other experience stated in
the job advert. In the same study above Schmidt found the correlation between
job experience and performance is significant but very weak{r=0.16}. What it
means is that you should not put too much weight on it when recruiting. If you
do you may lose good and capable candidates who may not have the requisite
experience but have the right cognitive capacity for the role. In an article by
Alison Beard {Harvard Business Review}, she reports on a study by  Chad H. Van Iddekinge {et al}  of Florida University, they reviewed 81
studies to investigate the connection between an Individual’s prior work
experience and performance in a new organisation.  The results are revealing; they found no
significant relationship. What is even more worrying is that even in cases
where people had worked in exactly the same role in other organisations, they
found no significant relationship.  What
this means is that scientific research shows that candidates who have more
experience do not perform better than those with less experience in a job.  What this means for employers is that do not
overemphasize years of experience when hiring as that has no relationship with
actual job performance. Most employers prefer to put arbitrary experience
requirements that are not backed by research. This makes the selection process
based on this criterion more unstandardized leading to the selection of the
wrong people for the job.

The third factor often preferred
by employers is the years of education. This is often reflected in the higher
qualifications demanded by employers. In the study by Schmidt cited above he
found that the relationship between years of education and actual job
performance was significant but very weak{r= 0.1}. Look at how employers demand
Masters Degrees and some such other higher qualifications. The approach alone
is a sure way to exclude highly capable people from jobs. This means many organisations
could be losing many skilled people by using these exclusion requirements.  While years of education has  a weak relationship with actual job
performance, job knowledge has a strong significant relationship with job
performance{r=0.48}. Possessing a qualification does not guarantee that an
individual has acquired enough knowledge to do the job well. I am sure you know
people who possess required qualifications but fail to deliver on the job.

The only way to get the right
people for any job is to assess them for cognitive ability as it the biggest
predictor of job performance in any job. 
Despite all the scientific evidence, organisations still prefer the
unscientific, unsubstantiated selection tools and criterion {experience, age,
and years of education as reflected in demands for higher qualifications}. A
recruitment and selection tool that does not include the assessment of
cognitive ability, personality and managerial/leadership competencies through
validated selection tools will always get you the wrong people.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com  or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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