Heneman, H. H., Judge, T. A., Kammeyer-Mueller, J. (2011). Staffing Organizations (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Chapters 8 & 9 – These chapters will be used for modules 7, 8 and 9.
Ryan, A. M., & Lasek, M. (1991). Negligent hiring and defamation: Areas of liability related to pre-employment inquiries.Personnel Psychology, 44, 293-319.
**Judge, T.A. & Higgins, C.A. (1998). Affective disposition and the letter of reference. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process, 76, 207-221.
**Fritzsche, B.A., & Brannick, M.T. (2002). The importance of representative design in judgment tasks: The case of resume screening. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75, 163-169.
**Chapman, D.S., Uggerslev, K.L., & Webster, J. (2003). Applicant reactions to face-to-face and technology-mediated interviews: A field investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 944-953.
This module focuses on several selection methods that are, essentially, screening tools. That is, these are often used to screen peopleout rather than select people in.
Biographical information inventories (biodata), background checks, reference checks, resumes, and letters of recommendation (LOR) are all methods of gaining insight into the past behaviors and life or work experiences of an applicant. The underlying assumption of these methods is that, what an applicant has done or experienced in the past may predict what he or she will do (or how he or she will perform) in the future. Although each of these methods focuses on past behaviors or experiences, there are differences between them.
Letters of recommendation are exactly that: a recommendation by a third party on behalf of the applicant, and are typically considered a form of reference check. LORs can be structured (the recommending party completes a standard form or answers specific questions) or unstructured in nature (the recommending party submits what they wish on behalf of the applicant). While most often subjectively scored, objective scoring methods are available for LORs (for example, Peres and Garcia’s,  adjective scoring method). An adjective scoring method involves obtaining ratings and sorting adjectives from a large number of LORs submitted for a particular job. The categories of items can then be examined for their relation to a criterion, and thus, subsequent LORs can evaluated based on the type and number of adjectives used.
Reference and background checks evaluate the applicant by gathering information from individuals or organizations that have had contact with the applicant. The information solicited in a reference check is used to either verify information provided by the applicant, predict job success (“how would the applicant perform in a specific environment?”), or to uncover additional background information not provided by the applicant. Background checks, instead, focus on the criminal record of an applicant. Checking references is one of the most common methods for screening applicants. Both reference and background checks are used as a screen-out selection method.
Biodata is also an assessment designed to predict a criterion (most commonly a measure of turnover) from the experiences or past behaviors of an applicant. Although there is disagreement in the literature as to what constitutes biodata, this information is usually obtained through questions concerning the personal backgrounds and life experiences of applicants. Examples of biodata questions include, “Did you graduate from college?” “How much did you like school?” “Which of the following hobbies do you enjoy?” “Have you ever repaired a broken appliance so that it later worked?”
Scoring techniques of biodata are much more complicated than those used for LORs. Empirical keying of biodata instruments involves the assignment of “optimal” weights to items or responses in an effort to predict performance (Dean, Russell, & Muchinsky, 1999). The “optimal” weights are obtained from either of two methods: (1) by establishing a relationship between the item or response option and the criterion or (2) by establishing a relationship between the item or response option and other items or response options.
Method or Construct?
Biodata, background and reference checks and LORs are all methods of collecting information about an applicant’s past. Narrowing what construct these methods measure is more difficult. These methods all attempt to measure past behavior or experiences, with the underlying assumption that past behavior or experience predicts future behavior. Whether it is biodata, background or reference checks or LORs, each of these focuses on what has occurred. Background and reference checks (including LORs) typically investigate relationships of the applicant with a third party, and that third party’s evaluation of the applicant. Biodata looks at the behavior or experiences of a person, with the expectation that those behaviors or experiences have lead to the development of relevant KSAOs.
One of the central criticisms of these methods, most specifically, biodata, is that they are “atheoretical,” the result of “dustbowl empiricism,” (Dean, et al., 1999; Gatewood & Feild, 1998). However, advocates of these methods argue that other selection technologies, such as cognitive ability tests and work samples, also lack a theoretical basis (Dean, et al., 1999). In defense of biodata, Mumford, Stokes and Owens (1992) present a rationale for biodata based on the ecology model (as cited in Dean, et al., 1999). The ecology model suggests that it is not only experiences that shape the person, but also the choices that lead a person to gain certain experiences. This model proposes an iterative process of choice, development, and adaptation (Dean et al., 1999).
Please answer all of the following questions. This assignment is worth 15 points.
Please submit your answers as a Word document attachment.
Structure your answer in any format. That is, as long as you address each of the questions below, your answer can be in any format you choose (e.g., paragraph form, bullets, combination, etc.).
1.What are the possible legal implications for resumes, cover letters, biodata, and reference checks for the employer? Provide concrete examples. Hint: Refer to legal materials/readings earlier in the semester and provide citations and explanations for your answer. (5 pts)
2.What recommendations would you provide to an organization on the use of these selection methods? (4 pts)
3.What constructs are measured by each of these methods? (3 pts)
4.Do you think the organization should use these selection/screening methods? (3 pts)