On diagnostics in personnel selection

David Creelman will soon publish an article on the use of diagnostics in personnel decisions. In it, he points at some problems with formal diagnostic tools. He argues that organizations should always use formal tools in combination with informal tools. I'll link to the article when it's online. Meanwhile, David asked me for my views on the use of diagnostics in personnel management and here is what I said:

"For years, I have worked as an industrial and organizational psychologist doing tests and assessments. Had you asked me then, I would have said that using objective assements techniques are the way to improve the utility of personnel decisions. Over the years, my views have changed quite a bit. I still am in favor of systematic approaches to personnel decisions but I am no longer a great fan of standardized tests. Usually, they encourage and are based on a fixed mindset with respect to human capabilities. They also encourage labeling of people and encourage a (too) personalistic view of performance. Finally, they give managers a misplaced sense of certainty. They produce ‘hard’ scores but test dimensions may reflect the work demands and context only poorly.

What I’d use in personnel selection and promotion is a systematic approach to assesing views, interests, values, beliefs, knowledge, skills and person-job/organization fit. I’d use biographic information and use situational questions. I’d be sure to involve multipple assesors from the work environment itself and I’d be reluctant to use external assessors."


Alan Kay said…
I think this aligns with the work of John Briggs & Gale Miller at the Solutions Behavioural Health Group Milwaukee. They did some research on the interview process. Their findings were that the traditional pre-employment interview is unreliable in terms of deselecting bad employees and selecting good employees.

They went on to note that hiring creates a change. Plus, you can’t ever replace or replicate the current situation. Choosing a person creates a new situation. Different kinds of people will create different situation / direction. So, should we choose a person, or a future situation based on the future we (and they) want? The conclusion - think in terms of ‘emergence’.