Sunday, September 22, 2013

Research update: September, 2013

Okay, it's mega research update time!

First off, the September IJSA; lots of good stuff, including:

- a constructed response multimedia test for entry-level police resulted in minor ethnic group differences

- panel interviews once again prove their superiority (also: more on interview reliability)

- further analysis of the Hogan Personality Inventory with a Spanish sample

- how to applicants form impressions of person-organization fit?  This study suggests contextual factors may be more important than interview content

- circumplex traits (combinations of personality factors) may predict counterproductive work behaviors better than simple FFM scores

- speaking of CWBs, conditional reasoning tests may not be the best predictor of them

- last but not least, what looks to be a good overview of competency modeling

Next up, the September JAP:

- an interesting, large study of the impact of candidate reactions on test scores, organizational perception, and criterion-related validity

- a study of the dynamics of the job search process and the impact of efficacy and focus

- highlighting certain factors during an interview may reduce discrimination toward pregnant applicants

Next, the Autumn 2013 Personnel Psychology:

- first, an important study of self-efficacy that suggests it is a product of past performance and not necessarily a predictor of future performance (free right now!)

- second, a study indirectly on selection that suggests that age diversity in work groups leads to more emotion regulation

Let's move on to the September JASP:

- okay, this may be a bit of a stretch, but if you're considering interviewing for a position as a dentist or a lawyer, make sure you suit up

- knowledge of service encounters predicts service effectiveness (and is related to conscientiousness)

- can use of biodata instruments result in adverse impact?  This study suggests so, but also suggests that removal of problematic items has no impact on validity

Starting to wrap up, let's move to the October JOB:

- perceptions of the fairness of promotion practices is one of those "bubbling beneath the surface" issues in most organizations.  This study found that perceptions are impacted by having been promoted in the past, organizational commitment, and ego defensiveness.  Good stuff.

- do more creative sales agents produce higher sales?  Perhaps only when there is a high quality of leader-member exchange.

- is validity generalization overgeneralized? (say that five times fast)  These folks seem to think so.

In the home stretch, from the September Psychological Science:

older employees may have lower average cognitive performance, but it's more consistent

- spatial ability has a valuable role to play in the development of creativity, and can predict things like patents and publications

Second to last, for you stats geeks out there, a study that suggests that t-tests can be used reliably with small samples, thank you very much

Finally, something that has nothing to do with selection but is a nominee for the 2013 HR Tests Coolest Study Award, and something we all are very familiar with: time bandits (no, not the movie).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hiring interviews: You're probably doing them wrong

I'll have a research update for you as soon as I get enough content, but today I wanted to give you a preview of a talk I'll be giving in San Francisco on September 23rd titled "Hiring interviews: You're probably doing them wrong.  A motivational talk."  The topic was inspired somewhat by Google's semi-recent announcement regarding their internal research on the issue.

The sad truth is that even though interviews are one of the most popular forms of personnel assessment, they are often done wrong.  Not necessarily through any ill intent, but because of two main factors:

(a) they're harder to develop than many people think


(b) most people think they're great interviewers

On the first point, interviews are deceptively simple.  Many people assume that if they can talk to other people, they can interview someone.

Wrong and wrong.

Interviewing isn't talking to people.  Well, okay, I suppose literally it is.  But interviewing really is about MEASURING people.

If I asked you to use a set of measuring spoons to give me 1 tsp of sugar, you would have no problem, right?

But what if I asked you to use a Halloway P36 spectrometer* to measure photon radiation?  You might need some help.  It's all about what you're measuring.

On the second point, research has well established that people are generally very bad at accurately reporting their skill levels--across a wide variety of disciplines.

To make matters worse, research has also established that interviewers tend to get addicted to bad interviews: when things turn out poorly, they tend to blame outside factors rather than the interview format.

But there is good news.

Specifically, we know how to do interviews the right way.  Namely by structuring them.  What does this mean?  There are several key features.  Here are a few:

1.  Use high quality question formats.  This means behavioral, hypotheticals, knowledge-based, and background questions.  Not puzzle questions or gimme questions.

2.  Be consistent.  Each candidate should be asked the same questions in the same order (with limited variations for follow-up if needed).

3.  Use a detailed rating scale.  When there is no criteria to compare answers to, scoring tends to be inconsistent, reducing the utility of the whole process.

4.  Base the questions on an analysis of the job.  I probably should have made this #1.  Everything you do in your selection process, including interviews, should be driven by the key knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required for good job performance.

5.  Train the interviewers.  Because of the wide variety of biases that plague interviewers, it's critical that they be aware of these tendencies and guard against them.

These are just some of the ways we can avoid bad interviews.  Of course another strategy to increase your success is to look beyond interviews at things like tests that more accurately mirror the job (i.e., performance tests).  But even following these guidelines can radically improve your results.

In other words, there is hope.

* I made this up.  If this is a real instrument I'm better than I thought!