When organizations are hiring, they may use various tests to help predict a candidate’s on-the-job performance. One of the biggest challenges within the field of personnel selection is to identify the types of tests that will accurately predict performance and also steer clear of bias against protected groups. Recently, researchers conducted a study to update the recommendations regarding the predictors that are best for organizations to use.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
The current study (Sackett et al., 2022) was based on a re-analysis of a previous study (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998) that itself combined many past studies. The current study demonstrated that the original study used incorrect methodology, and that a re-analysis of the data could offer more accurate results.
By applying their widely accepted statistical correction to the original estimates, the researchers found that some predictors (i.e., cognitive tests) were not as high in predictive validity as once believed, although other predictors, such as structured interviews and job knowledge tests, still had high levels of validity.
In other words, this study found that some predictors that were once believed to be high in their predictive power did not turn out to be as valid as initially reported – including cognitive ability tests, conscientiousness scores, and work sample tests. This is especially notable because some of these common predictors, such as general mental ability and work samples, had notable differences in scores across black and white candidates.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
In updating these estimates, the researchers have provided important guidelines for organizations and managers going through the hiring process:
- Utilize structured interviews. Structured interviews consistently demonstrate the highest levels of predictive validity while maintaining relatively low racial differences.
- Lower the emphasis on personality variables. Using personality variables are relatively low stakes (racial differences are minimal), but they are also not very predictive when used as stand-alone tool. To save time, cost, and not overwhelm candidates, personality tests should be used carefully in the hiring process.
- Avoid making decisions based on cognitive ability alone. Across studies, cognitive ability tests and general mental ability have been shown to have the greatest between-group racial differences. While these tests offer some predictive power, decisions should not be based on these scores alone, which will help avoid bias and adverse impact.
- Use a combination of predictors in the hiring process. No one predictor is perfect. To minimize any bias and increase the predictive power of the decision-making process, organizations and hiring managers should use a combination of valid predictors, including structured interviews, biodata, and job knowledge tests.
Sackett, P. R., Zhang, C., Berry, C. M., & Lievens, F. (2022). Revisiting meta-analytic estimates of validity in personnel selection: Addressing systematic overcorrection for restriction of range. Journal of Applied Psychology, 107(11), 2040-2068.
Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 262-274.
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