Saturday, September 30, 2006

EEOC sues Outback Steakhouse

The EEOC is having a very busy Fall. On Thursday (9/28) the government agency filed a lawsuit against Outback Steakhouse and its parent company, OSI Restaurant Partners, claiming that since at least 2000 they have failed to hire or promote women into management positions, have offered them less training and advancement opportunities, and given them worse job assignments. The suit seeks reinstatement for all female employees who have faced the claimed discrimination, back pay with interest, and compensatory damages.

Another tough break for Outback, who in addition to facing some financial challenges is no stranger to
gender discrimination lawsuits .

The suit is similar to others that have been filed against grocery stores. Management positions in both types of stores typically require experience in certain parts of the store. In grocery stores this is often stock clerk. At Outback, apparently kitchen management is a prerequisite.

Wonder if Outback has any criterion-related validity evidence showing a relationship between kitchen management experience and performance as a restaurant manager...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Webinar on background screening

K, I don't usually pimp products or services here but I do make exceptions.

On November 9th, Lester Rosen is going to be presenting a
webinar on pre-employment background screening, including the use of criminal records, privacy concerns, and negligent hiring lawsuits.

Having recently read Mr. Rosen's
Safe Hiring Manual I can tell you he knows his stuff and has a talent for writing in a clear, understandable manner.

End endorsement.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

IPMA-HR Recruitment and Selection Benchmarking Survey

IPMA-HR has released the results of its 2006 Recruitment and Selection Benchmarking Survey. Results are available here for a small fee. The report includes an analysis of responses from 236 individuals representing all levels of government.

- 58.4% of respondents report accepting applications via the Internet, which seems low, but I'm guessing it's been more difficult for smaller organizations, and there's probably folks in the process of developing this capability.

- The agency/jurisdiction's website generated the most applicants, followed by newspaper ads and internet job boards. The same pattern held for where the most diverse hires came from.

- Mean number of days to hire for all jobs (from vacancy posting to start date) was 49 days. Shortest was labor/maintenance positions, slowest (not surprisingly) was public safety positions.

- The top three testing methods were (in order): Criminal record checks, pre-employment drug testing, and written job knowledge tests. Use of these tests varied by type of position (e.g., written tests most common for public safety, T&E most common for professional positions).

- Compared to 2000, the use of criminal record checks and drug testing has gone up dramatically.

- Applicants had the easiest time passing MQs for office/clerical jobs and the most difficult time for IT positions.

Lots of good stuff in here. I was alarmed that more organizations aren't doing more to prepare for the upcoming retirement boom and that more aren't using computerized skills testing, but heartened that written tests are still widely used.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jim Stroud: Sourcing passive candidates

Great mini-tutorial going on right now by Jim Stroud (on part 3 of 5 as of this post).

As all good recruiters know, most your high quality candidates are "passive"--meaning they're not actively looking for a job but could potentially be tempted by your wiley charms. How you go about finding these folks is part art, part science, and part proprietary super secret. Jim helps us out by showing how we can use news searches (so far MSN) to locate these diamonds in the rough.

Accountemps survey

Okay, I wasn't going to post about this, but since it seems to have created quite the flutter, let's talk for a minute about a recent survey that Accountemps did.

The survey asked 150 senior executive from the nation's 1,000 largest companies about the most common mistake people make during an interview (most common, mind you, not most important). By far, the most common response (47%) was that interviewees didn't know enough about the company.

Now some folks out there in the HR community have argued that this is a reminder that the job seekers have a responsibility to do some leg work before an interview. No argument here. But I do think we need to take a look in the mirror.

In general, organizations do a TERRIBLE job of providing sufficient information to candidates about the job they're applying for. It's particularly bad in the public sector, where you're lucky if you see a
good job description before you interview.

Providing applicants with detailed information about (1) the most frequent and essential duties of the job, (2) the most important KSAs/competencies needed day one, (3) culture of the organization, and (4) day-in-the-life information (e.g., cubicle or office?) is probably the most effective (and certainly one of the cheapest) ways of ensuring a good person-job fit. To rhap Rumsfeldian for a moment, Will unqualified applicants still apply? Sure. Will this solve all your problems? No. Will qualified applicants appreciate it? You bet.

And let's think about going a step further. How about a very clean, easy to read description of the job with a variety of links taking people to details--"For more about where you would be working, CLICK HERE", "For more about who you would be working with, CLICK HERE." That way people can read what's important to them and we don't have to balance information overload with platitudes like "Works as part of an innovative, diverse work team."

Should people find out as much as possible about the job and the organization before applying? Yes. Should we do as much as we can to make this job easy for them? I think we owe it to them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fall EASI Newsletter

Some good stuff in EASI's Fall newsletter . One article is about the importance of conducting reference checks. Reference checks should always be conducted--even if you don't get any "useful" information. Why? Because it will help you defend against negligent hiring (tort) lawsuits. Dr. Harris also points out that the validity for reference checks, according to a recent study (see page 4) is a respectable .29 (corrected).

Also in there is an article on the "ABCs of Internet Recruiting"--a great overview for those of you that need a basic overview of the tools out there.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Issues of Merit

The Merit Systems Protection Board has put out a new issue of Issues of Merit, its periodic newsletter. Now since I just posted about this (see below), and we all know that correlation means causation, I can only assume that I caused this new issue to be published.

Some good stuff in here, including:
- The value of intern programs. A lot of us have a tendency to focus on "the most qualified", meaning the most experienced. For a lot of jobs it's not how much experience someone has, it's how capable they are. And since internships give us the ultimate assessment opportunity (i.e., on-the-job) and typically an easier termination process, they're an often overlooked gold mine. In addition, many times it is to the organization's benefit to TRAIN people rather than hire them pre-prepared. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps the most compelling is that many job-related competencies can be trained (e.g., procedures) but the key success factors cannot (e.g., learning ability, personality).

- The (in)ability of a college degree to open doors. One of the articles points out that many of the most-recruited for jobs in the federal government require specialized degree or experience and a generic liberal arts degree won't be the passport some assume.

- Benchmark information for the occurrence of prohibited personnel practices. Some good data in here for those of you looking for baseline measures of incumbent satisfaction with recruitment and assessment activities.

- The importance of a periodic audit of your selection process. Does your organization do this? If not, why not? Like pre-testing, an audit can uncover invaluable information about how to improve the selection process and avoid costly mistakes.

Pre-employment drug testing

Good, brief article on BLR regarding drug testing.

Many jobs require drug testing by law (e.g., truck drivers) and there is an active market for tricks and products to fake out the drug testers, which this article touches on. Courts have in general been very supportive of employers giving drug tests, particularly pre-employment (i.e., compared to incumbents). Key aspects: make sure everyone gets one, and make sure you have either a legal requirement or job-related reason for doing so.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


One of the most common forms of screening down candidates is a college degree requirement. I've heard more than one hiring manager say, when faced with a mountain of applications, "let's just see who has a degree."

This is a classic example of what I call "lazy assessment." Yes, in some cases a specialized degree is required (e.g., nursing, attorney). But let's focus for a moment at the vast majority of situations where a college degree isn't really required, it's just a quick and dirty way of funneling down candidates.

What might be some issues?

1) You could inadvertently be leaving out sizable numbers of folks from different backgrounds. For example, looking at
national statistics , requiring even a high school diploma is likely to have adverse impact against people of Hispanic descent, and requiring a bachelor's degree is likely to have adverse impact against African Americans. This will of course vary depending on the job and the relevant labor market, which is why it's so important to track your applicant flow statistics.

2) If you do end up having adverse impact in your process, and someone calls you on it (read: lawsuit), can you defend this decision? Do you have data showing a significant link between the degree requirement and job performance? Do you even want to go there?

3) Education, in general, does not predict job performance very well. In the most rigorous study of this issue to date,
Schmidt & Hunter (1998) found a correlation of .10 between years of education and job performance (see sidebar for neutered version of this article). This was exactly the same value they found for how well measures of interest predicted job performance. This means asking people how interested in a job they are is about as good as choosing people based on how much education they have--and neither is very good.

4) Education is a very blunt measure of competencies. Many times hiring managers assume if someone has a degree, they must have decent writing skills, analytical skills, etc. Wrong. All it means is someone sat their duff in a chair long enough to be awarded a degree. Without knowing the school attended, GPA, and courses, you know almost nothing about what someone got out of their degree.

5) Falsifying degrees is common. So you may leave out the person who hasn't had a chance to get a degree, or is in the process, in favor of someone who happens to know where to get a fake degree. Nicely done.

What about substitutions (e.g., college degree or X years of relevant experience)? Two points: (1) according to the same study, years of experience in general does not predict performance well either--again, blunt measure of competencies here folks; and (2) make sure you have a rationale for the number of years. Don't go with 2 years because that sounds about right--get subject matter expert input.

So what do we do in situations where there are large numbers of applicants and we need some way to screen down? First, make sure your job description is very clear about required KSAs/competencies and what you expect them to show you day one--this, along with realistic job previews, is probably the most cost effective way you can ensure truly qualified and motivated people are applying. Two, written tests (job knowledge, biodata, etc.) are easy to administer to large groups and have a good track record. Three, on-line tests are even easier to administer; if unproctored, just re-test folks when they show up so you know it was really that person taking the test. Four, if you're using an on-line application process, allow folks to easily select what qualifications they have (e.g., checkboxes) and use this to quickly cut your numbers down.

Those are just some ideas. The point is don't just automatically throw a degree requirement out there without thinking about unintended consequences and injecting a little creativity into things. We can, and should, do better.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

MSPB Studies

One of the great unsung resources for selection is the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB). Periodically they put out studies on a variety of topics related to HR, and they've issued some doozies on assessment. Although they typically have a federal government focus, many recommendations are applicable across all organizations.

Here are some of the latest & greatest:

Reforming Federal Hiring: Beyond Faster and Cheaper

Reference Checking in Federal Hiring: Making the Call

Identifying Talent Through Technology

Managing Federal Recruitment

They also have a newsletter called "Issues of Merit" that often has very good articles related to assessment, and it's easy to sign up for .

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cheezhead presents

Joel Cheesman presented at Onrec on blogs, .jobs, Monster, Google, you name it. Good stuff, check it out .

Some particular points that I nodded to: Blogs are great avenues for sourcing passive candidates, and giving an employee blog responsibility is a wonderful retention tool.

My new career goal: make a professional presentation wearing a t-shirt.

When politics trump merit

One of the things I always tell audiences when I do presentations on legal aspects of selection is this: How would you like to see your name in the paper? Because it can, and does, happen when bad hiring decisions get made.

For a startling and vivid illustration of this, look no further than
this article in the Washington Post. Regardless of your political bent, this provides an illustration of what can happen when hiring decisions are made with the most essential competencies firmly not in mind.

Section 1981 case

The second circuit has decided, in Ofori-Tenkorang v. AIG , that Section 1981 claims cannot succeed in cases where the conduct occurred outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Although other circuits had made similar determinations, none had been published.

What is Section 1981? Section 1981 refers to a section of the U.S. Code that prohibits discrimination in "making and enforcing contracts", which for our purposes applies to hiring and promotion decisions. The law has traditionally been used in race discrimination cases against private sector entities.

Why do we care? How about this: The statute of limitation is four years, compared to 300 days for laws administered by the
EEOC and typically 1-2 years for state laws. There is no administrative requirement, meaning someone can file directly in federal court without going through the EEOC or similar agency. And the kicker? Unlimited compensatory and punitive damages (whereas remedies under federal, and some state, laws are capped).

What now? Although this is good news of a sort for employers with personnel in other countries, there may be other laws that apply in these situations, Congress can always modify the law, you really want to go to court? So make sure your supervisors are trained in how to avoid discriminatory hiring procedures as well as retaliatory treatment.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Choosing assessments

Good post up on ERE from
Charles Handler ,who always has very clearheaded advice to offer. This one's about how to select assessment tools. Some gems:

- The more time you spend matching the assessment tools to the desired outcome, the better the results. One of my mantras is that there is a direct relationship between the amount of time spent on assessment and the outcome. If you think of a way to short-circuit this, let me know and we'll make millions.

- Assessments can be broken down into three basic categories: What people have done (resume, background checks), what they can do (ability tests, personality inventories), and what they want to do. Looking at tests this way helps us understand that different types of tests are appropriate for different levels; for example, "what can you do" tests are generally more appropriate for entry-level jobs than "what have you done" tests.

- Ideally, different types of tests should be woven together depending on job requirements. I like that phrasing because it helps us envision selection as a work of art that may look different each time we do it.

- Test vendors should provide thorough information regarding how the test was developed and any validation evidence. Good developers will not hesitate to provide you with this information. Also, make use of independent resources like
Buros to check underneath the hood. If you're not versed in the technical details, seek assistance.

- Consider simulation-based assessments. Amen. Simulations, or work sample tests, should be on every hiring expert's toolbelt. They're proven predictors of job performance and generally go over quite well with candidates. Plus, they can be a great job preview.

I would add a couple other things to consider when selecting an assessment:

- As much as possible, tailor the tests to your particular job and organization (as opposed to using a single off-the-shelf instrument). This helps make it defensible and feel more relevant to candidates.

- Consider the reputation of test vendors. Some vendors have been around a long time and offer substantial support. Others are essentially vaporware. Ask friends and experts what they know about a vendor before you plunk down your cash.

With some upfront planning and background checking of your own on the assessments, you can rest easier knowing the results are sound and the process is defensible.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Friends at work

Tom Rath, who heads Gallup's Workplace Research and Leadership Consulting, has a new book out called Vital Friends .

The book is about how friendships play a vital role in our productivity and satisfaction. It includes data from thousands of surveys of managers and leaders.

I hear you: "That's great, but what does it have to do with recruitment and selection?"

Here are some of the findings:
. People who have a best friend at work were seven times more likely to be engaged on the job.
. Close friendships at work boosted employee satisfaction nearly 50%.
. People with a best friend at work were significantly more likely to engage customers, get more done in less time, have fun on the job, have fewer accidents, and be more innovative.
. People with at least three close friends at work were 96% more likely to be extremely satisfied at work.
. When asked if people would rather have a best friend at work or a 10% pay raise, having a friend won handily.

Yes, this is survey data. No, we can't draw causal relationships. But what we have here is some pretty compelling descriptive data, and that last point is particularly relevant. Obviously having friends at work is very, very important to many people.

Implications? Help people determine if they would be a good fit with your current employees.
Profile your high performers in your recruitment material. Highlight interests and accomplishments of likely co-workers. If your organization puts resources into helping people with like interests connect, spotlight this (and kudos, BTW). Assess your bench strength, and be creative about it--don't just measure competencies, find out what your people are into. Then think about where you're likely to find similar folks. And when you have people at your workplace, whether it's for a tour or an interview, let them meet their future co-workers.

The other big implication? Think twice about cracking down on office friendships. It may have unintended consequences that dwarf whatever benefit was hoped for.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sourcing Myspace

Great post on cheezhead today--a video of the presentation that Steven Rothberg, president of, gave at the Onrec conference.

A great primer for those of you not familiar with social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook. He also brings up some great points about the benefits and pitfalls of using these types of websites for recruitment and selection. His suggestion, which I agree with, is to use them to find folks--not to select them out.

I would love to see more of these types of videos posted online, particularly from the IPMAAC and SIOP conferences.

BLR founder on testing

Interesting post from BLR's founder Bob Brady on whether or not employment testing works.

The article is interesting for (at least) two reasons. First, he gives a bit of background about the
Wonderlic , one of the oldest and well known (some might say infamous for its role in the Griggs case) measures of cognitive ability. For those of you that didn't know (like me), the test was developed by gathering criterion-related information over time to verify the utility of the test rather than being theory-based.

Second, I found the posts following the article to be fascinating and an indication of the variety of views on the subject. Several comments pointed out that tests can never predict performance perfectly--and I don't think you'll find a testing expert who would say that. This strikes me as a dismissive argument, akin to saying we shouldn't wear seat belts because we could still be injured. The point has always been that good tests increase the likelihood of finding the right person; after all, hiring is in essence a game of chance.

Another post relayed a story about how even though a (presumably well developed) performance test was given, the person who scored the worst was given the nod to continue in the process. Why? Because they were an internal candidate and played the squeeky wheel card. This kind of stuff happens all the time, much to the anguish of many selection professionals who hold the concept of merit close to their hearts. In those cases, it really is who you know. More than likely the person is being set up for failure, the decision will reflect very poorly on the manager, and many people in the organization will be scratching their heads, thinking, "Why did that happen? How could we better ensure we have the right person?"

It's the tests, stupid.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Recruiting trends

So many surveys, so little time...

According to the annual EDGE
survey of hiring managers conducted by Robert Half and, the majority of respondents feel finding qualified applicants is getting more and more difficult.

In another indication of a tightening market, a survey by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers are planning on hiring 17.4% more college graduates in '06-'07 than they did in '05-'06.

What tends to happen when talent is in short supply? Employers cut corners. They shortchange reference checks. They don't spend enough time defining the job or using job-related selection instruments. They're so desparate to get a body in the door that they take statements by candidates at face value.

Stay on your guard, employers! Labor market fluctuations don't change the need for us to be vigilent about good selection. The time and grief that results in a bad hire far outweighs any short-term gains in making a "quick and dirty" hire.

Typos tank applicants

According to a study of 150 senior executives conducted by OfficeTeam, 47% said a single resume typo is enough to remove someone from consideration.

Waddya think? Seems a little rough to me, although I suppose it would depend on the job--and on the typo. If they spelled my name wrong, I would probably overlook it (since approximately 47% of people that send me e-mails make that mistake). But if I was hiring a secretary and the resume misspelled "business" or something similar, it would raise my eyebrow. Still, I would give the person a chance if their qualifications looked stellar.

New IPMA-HR website

IPMA-HR has updated its website With apologies to Stephen Colbert,

Tip 'o the hat: The new format is much simpler and cleaner. Navigation is very easy, and the overall style is much more attractive.

Wag of the finger: Still no RSS or atom feed; SIOP's website also has this problem and I'm told they have no plans to implement this. We can do better. Also, and I know this is nitpicky, but testing products are described as "validated." Do I need to quote U.S. v. Georgia Power (474 F.2d 912)? Yes? Okay:

"...a test is not valid or invalid per se, but must be evaluated in the setting in which it is used."

Or how about
Griggs :"...any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract."

Okay, end soapbox. It really is a very nice website...honest! Happy Friday !!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mean v. median

There's a great article by Mike Aamodt in the August Assessment Council News (page 3) on the differences between the mean and the median.

Basic stuff, right? Maybe so, but I'll bet you'll be happy you read through it. I think we all have a tendency (probably because it's so popular) to over-rely on the mean when the median is really what we want. For example, if you're trying to describe the AVERAGE or TYPICAL response, which is better--mean or median? Read the article to find out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Journal of Applied Psych issue

There's a new issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology out. The very last article is a study by Lievens and Sackett, investigating video-based vs. paper-based situational judgment tests.

Here's the low-down: 1159 students completed video version, 1750 completed paper version. Video version scores correlated less with cognitive ability (consistent with previous research, presumably resulting from the test having lower cognitive load) but had higher predictive and incremental validity in predicting interpersonal-related criteria than did scores on the written version. No significant difference in face validity between the two versions.

Don't know which scores correlated better with other criteria, and I won't know until I take a trip over to my local university to get a copy. (The articles are $12 on-line).

Bottom line? Another example of video-based tests successfully predicting job-related criteria, and another reminder that when we talk about predicting job performance we should ask, "what TYPE of job performance?" (BTW, this is often called the "criterion problem")

Monday, September 11, 2006

Goodyear gets tagged

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed suit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber, alleging violations of Executive Order 11246, which prevents discriminatory hiring practices among certain federal contractors. Specifically, the OFCCP is claiming these processes discriminated against female applicants for entry-level positions and is asking that these individuals be hired and provided with full relief (money and benefits).

This is a good reminder that it's more than just Title VII that employers need to be concerned with when it comes to the legal aspect of hiring. It's also an opportunity to remind everyone that if your organization is covered by 11246 you must comply with the OFCCP's
new recordkeeping rule regarding internet applicants.

Cover with flare!

Just read an interesting post on Craigslist about how to write a cover letter and it got me thinking about the validity of cover letters for selection.

While Mike Aamodt has written some really good stuff on the
validity of recommendations and references (see page 4) , I'm not aware of any similar research on cover letters. I'll agree with the poster on Craigslist that there are ways to word cover letters so they are more eye-catching and make you stand out from the crowd. But does this change in style of presentation have implications for the utility of this type of information in predicting performance/fit/etc.?

Let's take a look some potential issues:

1) First and foremost, we have the same problem with cover letters regardless of how they're written. Namely, who wrote it? This is a form of self-presentation, open to all of the biases and flaws inherent in all of these types of information (resumes are the same; one reason why I recommend standard applications). If I happen to have a friend who's an English major, I've got a leg up on everybody else, even if my qualifications aren't any better.

2) Assuming the sender actually wrote the letter, does this really tell you anything more job-related about the person? Really all you know is that the person was motivated to write a "creative" cover letter, which isn't really telling you anything at all.

3) Reviewers of cover letters already have plenty of
built-in biases . Do we really need to add "attraction to flare"?

4) Last and not least, if everyone starts writing their letters this way, this would become the "standard way" and pundits will start telling everyone that now they have to embed video, make their resumes scratch and sniff, whatever. This is the old game of staying one step ahead of everybody else.

All that said, if getting people to think about different ways of presenting themselves makes them think more about WHAT to present that's related to what the organization is looking for, and represents their personal style better, that could end up being meaningful. Still, I can't help but think this whole dance would be a heck of a lot easier (and more valid) if attraction and selection decisions were consistently based on the results of well-designed assessment tools.

Thanks to for the link to the original article.

Friday, September 08, 2006

War for talent?

There's been a lot of talk the last several years about whether or not we really are facing a "war for talent"--meaning the number of skilled applicants will be insufficient to meet employer needs. This article courtesy of Electronic Recruiting News makes several good points, including the one I always come back to--it's not about body count, is about the skills and potential of folks applying for jobs. But the article goes beyond that to look at things from a big-picture perspective, I recommend giving it a read. It may make you think differently about how your organization is approaching the issue.

BTW, one of my favorite articles about this topic is
this one by Jeffrey Pfeffer, an OB professor at Stanford, prolific author, and regular contributor to Business 2.0 where he appropriately points out that fighting for the "superstars" may miss the point entirely. Halleluja.

How not to give a deposition

According to this article not only was Costco asking for trouble by not internally publicizing management positions, when their CEO Jim Sinegal was deposed he uttered this gem: "Our experience is that the women have a tendency to be the caretakers and have the responsibility for the children and the family."

Mine as well just call the EEOC and ask them how they want their press release worded.

AARP - Best employers for 50+

AARP has released a list of the Best Employers for Workers over 50. According to the press release many of these organizations are offering very flexible work arrangements, which presumably results in better recruitment and retention.

My guess is that many of these factors would be attractive to a variety of ages, not just those over 50. However, this IS a good example of how organizations can use things other than money to entice and keep good employees. A couple other good examples can be found in Business Week's August 21st issue,
here and here which give examples of GE and Patagonia, respectively, and how they use growth potential and a strong vision to their advantage.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Inc. Magazine article

Dr. Michael Harris, over at EASI Blog in his blog post here here brings our attention to the August issue of Inc Magazine and their focus on hiring.

I gotta say, these are some of the best mass-media articles I've seen on hiring. It looks like they actually did their homework--e.g., they caution use of the Myers-Briggs and recommend some very well-researched tests, such as the Watson-Glaser, Wonderlic, NEO, and HPI.

In addition, they raise some wonderfully refreshingly old ideas about good selection, including using structured interviewing (gasp!), standardized testing (eek!), and simulation/performance/work sample tests (horrors!). Those of you that believe good selection should occur in under 30 minutes may need to take a deep breath before reading. They suggest that spending 4 weeks on assessment is worth it.

Listen, folks, the reality is there is a direct relationship between the amount of time you spend planning and undergoing selection and the job performance of the person you hire. There are no shortcuts, at least none that I've seen--if you find a shortcut, let me know and we'll make millions. (And please don't say self-rating T&Es)

Nice to see sensible articles written about selection, and thanks to Michael for drawing our attention to it.

Dept. of Education Study

And yet another study! For those of you that like government reports, rejoice! The National Center for Education Statistics (part of the Department of Education) has released a study of 2003 data on computer and internet use by K-12'rs.

There's been a lot of debate on the "digital divide"--meaning the different access and usage of computer technologies by various demographic and socioeconomic groups. This study adds a new dimension but by no means solves the riddle.

The study, titled
Computers and Internet Use by Students in 2003 presents data that does indicate some differences. Namely, computer usage among White children is higher than that of Black or Hispanic children, as is usage among children with more highly educated parents and higher family income. Note that this is USE, not ACCESS. Note also that on page 58 of the study it covers some data on adult internet usage that indicates similar trends.

Implications for recruitment and selection? Understand that throwing all your outreach and selection processes into the internet basket may result in some adverse impact...and keep watching those applicant flow statistics!

DOL Study - America's Dynamic Workforce

Another day, another study. This one is from the U.S. Department of Labor and if you can get past the optimistic spin placed on it, there is some valuable information here.

The study, titled
America's Dynamic Workforce: 2006 covers a variety of summary statistics such as U.S. output, unemployment rates, and labor force participation rate.

So what's relevent in here for us?

- Figure 1-7 indicates annual hires rose substantially from 2003-2005
- Figure 1-11: Most recent growth has been in "higher paying" jobs (although the single greatest growth occurred in jobs paying an average of $14.57 an hour)
- Figure 3-5: From 2001-2005 there was dramatic job growth in the area of employment services
- Figure 4-7: Nearly 2/3 of new jobs created will require at least some college education
- Figures 5-1 and 5-2: While job tenure has dropped for men over the last 20 years, it has remained nearly identical for women

Lots of stuff here that we've seen before elsewhere, but if you want a macro view of our current and future labor market, check it out.

Monday, September 04, 2006

AEI Study

There's a New American Enterprise Institute study out now, The State of the American Worker, 2006 and it has some very relevant information for recruiting. For example:

1) Median amount of money it would take to make people happier: $10K/year

2) Most preferred aspect of a job (by far): feeling of accomplishment

3) % satisfied with amount of work expected and vacation time decreased from 2004-2005

4) Over 1/3 are somewhat or completely dissatisfied with the amount of job stress

5) Only 50% are completely satisfied with their boss

6) More and more people see work as something they have to do in order to enjoy their leisure time

7) Nearly a third of workers have telecommuted

8) Workers feel they have much more loyalty to their organizations than visa-versa

Check it out.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Research time

Some interesting studies out there...

This study in Personnel Psychology (which I get) found evidence that "opportunity to perform" (essentially, were you allowed to strut your stuff in the selection process) is strongly related to fairness perceptions--which as we know is correlated with a bunch of important things, include acceptance intentions, likelihood to sue, etc.

Lots of good stuff in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment.
This one reinforces the "be careful what you ask for" rule when developing interviews. Peeters and Lievens found that behavioral descriptions ("tell us about a time when...") triggered responses that differed in focus from situational questions ("what would you do if..."). BTW, Lievens, a professor at Ghent University in Belgium, is not only prolific but generous with his publications.

Another one in IJSA goes into detail about how to score situational judgment tests (SJTs). (For those of you new to this stuff, SJTs are items that ask the applicant to respond to "What would you do if..." from a set of preestablished answers)

What about Journal of Applied Psychology?
This one reminds us that unfortunately things (in this case, apparent gender bias) get in the way of accurate performance evaluations (and, by extension, reference checks).

Here's one that we should all read. It's a meta-analysis (essentially, a study of studies) looking at person-organization (P-O) fit measures. Looks like pretty low predictive validity.

This one looks at the relationship between media richness and credibility, and the correspondence between how job seekers view an organization's image and the image the organization is trying to project. Can't say just from looking at the abstract what the practical suggestions are.

Last but not least,
this study of black-white score differences on Raven's Progressive Matrices (a type of cognitive ability test) reminds us how important instructions are.

Have a great labor day!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

IPMAAC presentations

Many of the 2006 IPMAAC Conference presentations are now available online. Sample sessions include:

"Going online with existing tests: Blessing or curse?"

"The next generation in firefighter selection: A new model for a new generation"

"Attracting and selecting the right stuff"

NILG Presentations

Many presentations from the 2006 Industry Liaison Group's National Conference are now available, and there's some real gems in here. Examples:

"The Mantel-Haenszel and Breslow-Day defined: Combining adverse impact analyses across multiple events"

"Responding to EEOC Charges and Conducting Internal Investigations"

"Testing the Tests: OFCCP Review of Contractors Selection Practices"

New Hogan Book

So I got an ad in the mail yesterday for Robert Hogan's new book, "Personality and the fate of organizations." And, ya know, it was only $22.50 (paperback) after the 10% discount, so of course I had to buy it. The HPI (Hogan Personality Inventory) is IMHO one of the best personality tests around and the guy's a hoot to read, so looking forward to diving in.*

* Chances of book remaining on bedside for >1 month: 50%

And away we go...

Welcome friends and strangers to, a blog devoted exclusively to employment testing and personnel selection. Well, and maybe a little on recruiting. Okay, fine, just a little bit of I/O Psychology thrown into the mix. Aaaaaaaand maybe other things that catch my eye at 4:00am. But everything is tied to Human Resources--both from the employer's point of view and job applicants.

Here goes...