Development Cooperation Handbook/How do we manage the human resources of programmes and projects?/Managing the recruitment and selection processes

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Swiss sknife.png Steps and Tools See also Manage contracts with employees and assign tasks


This module focuses on the process of selecting the most qualified candidate for the position and accurately predicting on-the-job performance. Techniques for interviewing and testing and selecting the most qualified candidates to fit job requirements without violating laws will be presented.


Many organizations conduct job analyses as part of Human Resource Planning. A job analysis is the process of identifying and describing the aspects of a job. Human Resource departments then can use job analyses to communicate a job’s tasks, duties and responsibilities and to screen job candidates.


Sources of Recruiting[edit]

The goal of recruitment is to attract qualified job candidates. Identifying the sources most likely to contain qualified candidates saves time and money.

Current employees: Some organizations post job openings internally before seeking applicants from outside. This process allows current employees the chance to move up in the organization or into jobs they would enjoy more.

Referrals from employees: Research has found that employees hired through referrals from existing employees tend to be more loyal and more satisfied. But an organization may become too homogenous if employees only refer people like them.

Former employees: Organizations sometimes rehire employees who were laid-off or worked for the organization temporarily and demonstrated potential. Many organizations use temporary workers hired through temporary help agencies to meet labor needs as project/programme purpose ebbs and flows and eventually hire some of them full-time.

Print advertisements: Newspaper and trade magazines are used by employers to advertise positions locally, nationally or internationally.

Internet advertising and career web sites: The Internet allows organizations to advertise jobs globally through relatively inexpensive online advertisements. Many organizations also post positions on their own Web sites and job-search sites.

Employment agencies: Many organizations use employment agencies – often nicknamed headhunters – to recruit and screen candidates for a job.

College recruiting: Many organizations have recruiting programs that target specific colleges or certain degrees, both undergraduate and graduate. Recruiting employees at colleges and universities is equally effective for undergraduates and graduates. However, graduate project/programme purpose schools represent an almost ideal recruiting environment. MBAs are an elite pool of experienced talent, trained in general management and specific functional areas.


Internal Recruiting[edit]

Internal recruitment refers to individuals who already work in the organization but are given the opportunity to apply for a vacant job within the organization. When positions become available, organizations need to decide whether it will fill the position internally. Employers also should decide whether only employees who work in the specific group will be considered or whether cross-functional mobility will be considered (such as from finance to marketing departments).

In some cases, organizations choose to promote from within because of their familiarity with people in the organization; also familiarity with procedures and policies gives them an edge. Other times, organizations opt to transfer employees – without promoting them – as a way of providing a broader range of experience. For management trainees, job rotation exposes these up-and-coming employees to various parts of their organization. Job rotation also can be used to provide employees in high-stress jobs with a change of pace and prevent burnout. In addition, recalling or rehiring employees who have retired will become more common as global demographics change.


External Recruiting[edit]

Recruitment of outside talent occurs when the organization goes into the external labor market to fill a vacancy. External recruitment may occur at any levels, from entry-level to senior-level positions. Every project/programme purpose will find it necessary to engage in external recruitment. Even organizations that boast of opportunities for internal promotion find it necessary to recruit from the outside to replenish voluntary attrition and retirements. At minimum, these organizations recruit externally to fill lower-levels job ladders as incumbents move into higher-level positions.

Organizations that seek the best person typically look both internally and externally for job candidates. Several multinational organizations have chosen CEOs who not only are from outside of their organizations but also outside of their industries. For example, IBM selected Louis Gerstner Jr., former CEO of RJR Nabisco. Sometimes it is more economical for organizations to hire specialists from outside rather than incur the expense of training current employees for positions that require new skills. effective organizations seek individuals who perform at high levels almost immediately after joining.


Nontraditional Recruiting[edit]

organizations should not rely on only one source of potential candidates. For some vacancies, the strategy will be to hire from the available labor supply in the immediate vicinity and traditional recruiting methods work well. Most clerical and semi-skilled jobs are filled locally. For other positions, the strategy often involves looking nationally or internationally – especially if the position is very specialized. Organizations will need new methods for recruiting as the 21st century progresses. In many countries, the labor force is shrinking and employment patterns are changing because of declining birth rates and increasing life expectancies. For example, the workforce will decrease by 2% annually in Italy and by .3% annually in Japan, making older workers a vital resource. Women today represent more than 40% of the global workforce. Executives should look at nontraditional recruiting as a way of tapping the varied perspectives offered by members of different groups and a way of meeting labor needs. Diversity among decision-makers also helps organizations identify new niches, improve beneficiary service and reflect beneficiaries. Nontraditional labor pools include welfare recipients who are transitioning to work, retirees who seek second careers and workers from foreign countries. Some members of these groups may require training, but organizations may be able to partner with the government or nonprofit organizations if the organization doesn’t want to or can’t provide training. Organizations can recruit well-trained but underrepresented groups at conferences for women, minorities and retired executives. In the United States, for example, the National Black MBA Conference provides new opportunities for organizations to connect with highly-motivated and experienced graduate project/programme purpose students.

Timing of Recruitment[edit]

Well-managed organizations not only forecast the numbers and types of job vacancies in the future, but they also estimate approximately when they will occur. In situations such as college recruiting, which occurs in well-defined cycles, organizations also have the option of either being an early or late entrant into the recruiting process. Most undergraduate and graduate school students consider job offers as they are received, so organizations improve their chances of attracting high-potential students by entering the recruitment process early.

HR departments can review time-lapse data, which shows how much time on average elapses between decision points in the recruitment process. Historical data from the organization’s recruitment process may show résumés begin arriving 10 project/programme purpose days after an advertisement appears. On average, it may take the organization three days to invite applicants in for interviews, eight days to arrange interviews, five days for the organization to choose someone 14 days for the potential employee to decide whether to accept the job, and 30 days for the new employee to begin working. In this example, the data indicates that vacancies should be advertised 70 days before the position is expected to be filled, if the organization wants to avoid downtime caused by having no one in a position.

Looking at time-lapse data and yield rations, mentioned earlier, an organization can create more accurate charts that show when specific numbers must be achieved such as the number of résumés received and when decision should be made. It also helps organization to adjust the recruitment process if they realize that they are behind schedule in filling positions by changing the geographic scope of their recruitment effort.


The Message[edit]

Expectancy theory says people tend to do those things that are rewarded. It suggests that job applicants will pursue jobs whose rewards they perceive as having personal or professional value. Organizations usually first communicate to potential employees through messages that appear in postings and advertisements. Employers need to use clear messages about the job requirements, responsibilities and rewards so they attract appropriate applicants and not unqualified applicants.

Many organizations use a “shotgun” approach to communicating the attributes of a job to potential managerial and professional applicants because they are unsure what job attributes are the most attractive to potential candidates. After all, job attributes play a significant role in whether potential employees pursue and accept jobs, according to research. Blue-collar employees value job security, for example. In contrast, managerial and professional employees value opportunities for promotion. The content of the message should contain information about whatever job attributes most likely appeal to the level of applicants sought.

Employers often have assumed that it is to their benefit only to tell a job applicant about the positive aspects of the organization and job. This sugarcoating is controversial. Numerous studies have found that employers should not sugarcoat jobs. Instead organizations should provide what is known as realistic job previews – positive and negative information that is accurate. Realistic job previews increases the number of recruits and reduces turnover by reducing overly optimistic expectations, according to research. Realistic job previews also tend to increase organizational commitment, job satisfaction and performance.

The Applicant’s Perspective[edit]

To attract applicants, employers should understand what factors influence job candidates and how they decide whether to accept a job offer.

Self-esteem affects how individuals undertake job searches. Applicants with high self-esteem have a stronger belief in their own competency. Individuals with a strong need for achievement usually undertake more intensive job searches than other applicants do. Similarly, job seekers with high self-esteem apply for more jobs than originally had planned and more than job seekers with low self-esteem.

By young adulthood, most job applicants have narrowed their choice of occupations to one or two options. Economic factors, psychological factors such as needs, interests and abilities, and sociological factors all influence people’s decision-making when selecting an occupation. Individuals ultimately choose an occupation when they find a job that most closely and clearly meet these needs.

After people identify an occupation that meets their needs, they begin looking for an organization that hires people for that occupation. In general, job seekers do not identify all their options and simultaneously evaluate them. Instead, they are far less systematic and evaluate opportunities sequentially. If a job meets an individual’s minimum criteria, the person accepts the offer. If not, the person rejects it. New college graduates are the exception because they often receive multiple offers simultaneously. One key criterion for all applicants is their non-compensatory reservation wage, the minimum pay necessary to make the offer acceptable. After the reservation wage is met, individuals switch to a compensatory approach, evaluating tradeoffs between different job attributes.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Recruitment Sources Employers can evaluate the effectiveness of different recruitment sources by tracking how long employees recruited from each source stay with the organization.

Recruiting costs can be analyzed in many ways. An organization should determine the most cost-effective recruiting method for each situation. For example, organizations incur different expenses when they pay cash awards to employees who refer successful applicants than when they buy advertisements. One useful measure is calculating the average cost per employee hired. A more sophisticated way is a utility analysis, which compares recruitment-related expenses to the economic benefits accrued to the organization through an improved recruitment process, better employee retention and higher levels of performance.

Line managers can increase the HR department’s effectiveness by providing feedback on the quality of applicants from different recruitment sources. Line managers can create spreadsheets to accumulate data that can be analyzed by the HR department.


Recruitment: How to Attract Knowledge Workers[edit]

External recruitment places a significant role in locating knowledge workers and may occur at any level. The goal of recruitment is to attract the most qualified job candidates. The organization can be reactive in its recruiting and wait for resumes to arrive, or it can have a strategy to identify a pool from which it will select knowledge workers with the potential for creativity and innovation desired by the organization.

Identifying the sources most likely to contain qualified knowledge workers saves time and reduces expenses. Research has found that employees hired through referrals from existing employees tend to be more loyal and more satisfied. However, an organization may become too homogenous if employees only refer people like themselves. Many organizations also hire for permanent positions gifted employees who initially worked for the organization temporarily. For example, some new economy organizations hire knowledge workers as consultants or on a free-lance basis and then offer full-time jobs to the most dazzling.

In recruiting high-potential knowledge workers for lower-level positions, one common practice is for organizations to support research programs at key universities in hopes of having an “inside track” for identifying promising students working with well-known research professors. This relationship frequently leads to summer internships for such students and long-term employment if the student proves to be a good fit with the organization. Another technique is to have well-regarded knowledge workers visit their alma maters periodically to create a pipeline that keeps the organization visible within engineering, management and science departments at key universities.

Our research suggests that three factors significantly affect the success in attracting knowledge workers. First, the salary must adequately compensate them for their abilities. Not recognizing their individual value will drive them away. In fact, some scholars have argued that in the future knowledge workers such as exceptional software engineers may have agents who negotiate their employment packages just as basketball players today do. Second, individually tailored compensation packages affect the organization's ability to both attract and retain knowledge workers and provide long-term incentives for sustained contribution to the organization. Finally, knowledge workers often seek autonomy and freedom at work.


Job Analysis and Selection[edit]

In essence, a job is collection of tasks assigned to one person. A job analysis is the process used to gather information about jobs to identify the ability requirements necessary to perform the job. A job analysis can be “task-oriented,” meaning it focuses on the tasks needed to produce an output, or it can be “person-oriented,” focusing on the knowledge necessary to complete tasks.

Human Resource Planning facilitates an organization’s selection decisions by estimating when and how many hiring decisions will occur. Combing human resource planning with job analyses helps organization identify the qualifications necessary for these upcoming jobs. A job analysis allows organizations to develop accurate job descriptions and job specifications. After they know what the essential qualifications are, organization can develop selection procedures that are valid predictors of job performance.

Organizations can conduct a job analysis several ways. In an observationally based analysis, trained specialists study employees performing a job and collect information on the behaviors that they observe. This technique is most appropriate for production jobs. In other cases, specialists interview the several people who hold similar jobs and ask questions about their jobs. Similarly, questionnaires and checklists can be used to gather information. Through work samples, specialists record the job activities of several jobholders. Finally, management-position description questionnaires contain task-oriented items that elicit different responses from different functions, elicit different responses from different management levels, and are relevant for more than one function. The responses of a specific manager can be aggregated into a job description.

Applications and Resumes[edit]

Most organizations use application forms as screening devices to determine whether someone meets the minimum requirements. In general, application blanks seek information about an applicant’s background and present employment status. However – and this will vary from country to country – some questions are considered to be “red flags” of possible discrimination and should be avoided. The following are examples from the United States that need to be kept in mind.

A more recent addition is the biodata form, which asks questions about an applicant’s background, experience and preferences. For example, candidates might be asked whether they are willing to travel often, if they prefer to work alone or in teams. They appear to be good predictors of success and have a less adverse effect on minorities than many standard tests.

On applications and résumés, potential exists for job seekers to provide inaccurate information. Research indicates that distortions occur frequently, especially on information that is difficult to con organization. By all means, avoid doing this. When employers discover distortions, they often refuse to hire the applicant or fire already-hired employees.

Employment Interviews[edit]

The employment interview is the most common selection tool, but research shows it suffers from significant reliability and validity problems. In this context, reliability refers to consistency of measurement across judges. Numerous studies have found that interviewers do not agree with one another on the assessment of candidates. Interviewers also may be biased or make snap judgements based on the first few minutes of an interview. Interviewers also may not use the same questions from one interview to another or may not ask the questions in the same order, causing reliability problems.

To avoid problems caused by the traditional job interview, an increasing number of organizations have adopted an approach called the structured interview. As its name suggests, the structured interview is based on a thorough job analysis, applying job-related questions with predetermined answers consistent across all interviews for a particular job. In general, employers interview all candidates within two days.

Structured interviews have been proven to be quite valid predictors of job performance, and organizations should use three types of questions. Situational questions ask job candidates to describe how they would handle particular work situations. Job-knowledge questions determine whether candidates have the basic knowledge needed for the job. Worker-requirement questions assess the willingness of the applicant to perform under the current work conditions. Structured interviews also help identify the “fit” between applicants and the organization. Structured interviews conducted by multiple independent interviewers, including future co-workers, generally yield good results.



Tools[edit]

Templates[edit]

Swiss sknife.png Applicant employee evaluation form
Swiss sknife.png Staff Activity Forecast and Report
Swiss sknife.png Interpersonal skill assessment
Swiss sknife.png Employee Performance Review – Peer Review
Swiss sknife.png Performance appraisal forms
Swiss sknife.png Interview Questions for NGO Programme Job Positions

Guidelines[edit]

Swiss sknife.png Key Questions for Establishing the Team Organization
Swiss sknife.png How to reach an agreement on the Employee Performance Objectives
Swiss sknife.png How to manage motivated and effective teams
Swiss sknife.png How to recognize if Team Building is successful
Swiss sknife.png How to check the level of togetherness in a team
Swiss sknife.png Measures to make teams more performing
Swiss sknife.png The 5 steps of team creation
Swiss sknife.png Checklist for Identifying Performance Problems

Swiss sknife.png Why do organisations need to plan and manage their communication?
Swiss sknife.png How team members can improve overall project communication
Swiss sknife.png Measures to make teams more performing
Swiss sknife.png Required characteristics of the project manager
Swiss sknife.png The 10 Project Management Guiding Principles

See also[edit]

In other sections of this handbook
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Managing the Human Resources of a project team

Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Manage the Team performance
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Review employee performance
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Improve employee performance
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Recognize and Success and Reward Superior Performance
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Discipline Minimal Performers

Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg The employee empowering organization
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Team Conflict Management
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Decision Making in Groups
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Leading and Managing
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Team Conflict Management
Ezra Cornell's first book.jpg Decision Making in Groups