Organizational Efficiency and Personnel Selection

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 12
Words: 3312
Reading time:
12 min
Study level: PhD


Organizational efficiency is a broad concept that serves as a synonym for organizational performance, effectiveness and in other cases competitiveness. The term ‘efficiency’, however, in this context refers to the use of available resources to optimize the production of goods or services. In an organization, these resources may include time, facilities, finances and human resources. In order to achieve organizational efficiency, all the different departments of the organization should work autonomously or in unity with others to achieve the organizational goals. Human resources departments are no exception in that they play the most critical roles in facilitating the overall efficiency of the organizations. Only Personnel selection systems that contribute towards the overall attainment of efficiency find their way in organizations that are results-oriented (Evers et al., 2005, p.145). One can define personnel selection as the careful process of hiring new workers as well as promoting existing ones who show considerable promise for the success of the organization. Organizations have employed a number of selection systems in an effort to identify human qualities that they believe to be beneficial to the success of a given organization. These qualities include the following: Cognitive ability, practical intelligence, emotional intelligence, job experience, honesty, academic qualification among others. This paper examines some well-researched and proven predictors of the subsequent job performance of a given candidate as well as the general efficiency of the organization that proven selection systems use. The paper also analyzes some selection systems that organizations consider as the best in identifying the predictors in an effort to explain how these personnel selection systems contribute to organizational efficiency.

Important predictors targeted in personnel selection

Different systems and methods have been in use throughout the history of human resource management. These systems vary in their effectiveness in identifying the key qualities that also serve as predictors of a candidate’s success in the job as well as the overall achievement of the organizational goals. In order to understand and get a glimpse of the validity of a given selection system or method, it is indispensable also to check the validity of these predictors in consideration of the research that exists in the area. This assists in understanding how these influential predictors, which are personal qualities, contribute to the attainment of organizational efficiency.

Cognitive abilities

Cognitive abilities also referred to as cognition are brain-based skills that a person needs to execute tasks ranging from the simplest to the most complex. They generally have to do with how a person understands and acts upon a challenging situation. As revealed after considering the earliest research conducted on personnel selection, cognitive ability has been a substantial criterion used in distinguishing between candidates and predicting the job performance of the chosen people. People conducted a number of meta-analytic studies to determine the validity of this criterion in the 1980s turned conclusive (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998, p. 145). These studies prove that cognitive ability tests turn out to be fair when selecting workers from diverse ethnicities. It is evident through the studies that cognitive ability tests can effectively predict the performance of the person hired or promoted. Researchers have also conclusively proved that the core dimension in testing cognitive ability, which happens to be general mental ability, is a key component used to predict the subsequent performance of the individual, as well as the efficiency of the organization.

Practical ability

Practical ability is an area of interest in the selection systems that has a close relationship with cognition. For Goleman (1996, p. 67), the practical ability is entirely different from the kind of intelligence that is associated with academic prowess. Practical abilities have a direct relationship with the qualities that people develop in the pursuit of their personal goals in day-to-day life. However, few studies have turned out conclusive in providing proof that practical ability can effectively predict subsequent job performance and the overall organizational performance. Selection methods and systems employed in hiring and promoting people in organizations aim at discovering these skills in individuals.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ways in which a person perceives, acts upon and manages emotions. Goleman (1996, p.45) points out that quality is widely sought after by hiring agencies and organizations since it is the core to predicting subsequent job performance and organizational performance. Emotional intelligence is a key predictor of how a potential candidate will bond with other workers in an organization. Although it may prove to difficult to measure or guess at the rate of a person’s emotional intelligence in a first meeting, the selection process gives employers and managers the time to study their candidates carefully to ensure that they rate the person’s emotional intelligence from a point of information.


One can refer to a person’s personality as the combination of the person’s emotional, behavioral, and attitude-based response patterns of the person. Until recent years, employers and human resource managers did not consider this an important criterion in personnel selection. It was also not easy to review the validity of personality assessment tests as there was little research done in the area. It is, in fact, from the 1990s that personality assessment was regarded as a key step in the selection process (Salgado, 1998, p. 23). Studies were since then conducted to determine the validity of personality. It is from the 1990s that skepticism concerning how personality can contribute to the efficiency of an organization started paving the way for more confidence in the use of personality.

Job Knowledge and Experience

It is only when a job is performed as required that organizational efficiency is achieved. It follows straightforward logic, therefore, that the best candidate for a particular job position is the person whose knowledge of the job as well as experience in the field will enable him/her to tackle the responsibilities required of him/her. Selection systems that can be termed as effective are the ones that once employed enable the employers and the hiring managers in determining how a person is conversant with the challenges that may arise in a given position. By creating job descriptions, hiring managers and employers define what to look after in a given candidate as far as the job knowledge and experience are concerned.

Academic abilities

In order to perform well when offered a certain job or promoted to a given position, the ideal candidate must have that desired academic qualifications that are suitable for that particular position. Academic qualifications assist in creating confidence that a particular candidate is capable of effectively handling the duties that a given position may offer. Research conducted to validate this criterion provides proof that academic ability is necessary for an effort to predict subsequent job performance as well as the overall efficiency of the organization’s staff members. On the part of the candidate, academic ability instills confidence, which is necessary for any organization, which aims at achieving efficiency. The organization, on the other hand, boasts of having globally competitive personnel.

Social Competence

This compound variable consists of a person’s social insight, social appropriateness, openness, influence, warmth as well as extraversion (Schneider et al 1996 p345). There have been numerous studies seeking to justify the quality as necessary when applying a selection system. Among these are reports conducted by Gough (1968, p. 267) and Hogan (1998, p. 121) on social insight and empathy respectively. These studies aim at validating that social competence can effectively provide accurate predictions on subsequent job performance as well as organizational efficiency. The variables subsumed under this might also be pivotal in predicting the person’s interpersonal effectiveness once offered the job or promoted to a given position.


This is the quality of being extremely careful or even acting upon the dictates of one’s conscience. Many scholars claim that conscientiousness is a valid predictor of efficiency not only in organizations but also in jobs and situations (Salgado 1998 p 98). According to Gough (1968, p.21), the manner in which conscientiousness predicts the productivity and efficiency of a candidate is determined by how it is defined and employed by a given organization. For instance, Hogan (1998, p. 78) argues that in terms when conscientiousness is defined as “conformity and socially prescribed impulse control”, conscientiousness would likely not predict performance across organizations, jobs, or situations in which creativity or innovation is critical.

Core self Evaluation

Goleman (1996 p 31) defines this as a compound variable that includes a person’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control, as well as the emotional stability of the person. Selection systems target this predictor, which is essential in determining an organization’s performance and efficiency. A meta-analytical study carried out by Stajkovic and Luthans (1998) to test the effectiveness of core self-evaluation in predicting subsequent job performance and overall performance of the organization rated it at 0.30. Self-efficacy, which is a facet of core self-evaluation, was proven by another study to correlate more with subsequent job performance than core self-evaluation does as a whole. It rated at 0.38 compared to the initial 0.3 (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998, p. 87).

The selection system

Organizations employ selection systems and methods that they are most confident will help them either to get the best candidates for hiring or to get promotions. Different assessment methods come in handy in different stages of the recruitment process or even in the process of choosing the best workers to promote. The effectiveness of a given assessment method is gauged with regards to how the method will help the employer or the people in charge of the hiring process identify the above predictors in the candidates. Effective utilization of a given method ensures that the ideal candidate ends up qualifying for the position or the promotion. This study will examine how various selection or assessment methods effectively contribute to the efficiency of the organization. The assessment methods that will be targeted in this study are interviews, Assessment Centers (ACs), and Biodata.

Assessment methods


Interviews are among proven assessment methods that when well-conducted lead the employer or the human resource manager to the right candidate who will contribute to the efficiency of the organization. The effectiveness of this assessment method is dependent on whether the interviews are structured or unstructured. Campion et al (1997, p. 154) contest that structured employed interviews seem to define the content more explicitly compared to unstructured interviews. Hogan (1998, p. 56), however, holds the view that whether an interview will perform best in structured or unstructured form depends solely on the nature of the responsibilities or the job description of a given job. In areas that require open-mindedness and creativity, Hogan (1998, p. 57) argues that unstructured interviews may give the best results compared to structured interviews. In another case, in a field like medicine where there are definite facts, structured interviews tend to deliver the best results compared to unstructured interviews. People consider structured interviews as fairer compared to unstructured interviews considering that applicants or candidates receive treatments in a consistent manner in structured interviews than in unstructured interviews. In terms of reliability, however, meta-analysis reports were conducted to prove that structured interviews tend to have higher inter-rater reliability when compared to unstructured interviews. According to Gough (1968, p 34), the average inter-rater reliabilities for structured interviews is 0.67 compared to that of unstructured interviews, which at most times is 0.34.

Another significant factor that determines whether an interview succeeds an assessment method employed in the selection process is whether the interview is standardized or not. Gough (1968, p.78) posits that standardized interviews tend to burden the instrument rather than rely upon the assessment skills of the interviewer. Campion et al (1997) argue that highly standardized situational interviews that require applicants to respond to hypothetical critical work incidents prove to be less susceptible to biases when it comes to rating. Campion (1997, p. 167) continues to argue that with the interviewer’s experience and skills growing, the interview becomes further standardized.

Physical interviews enable the interviewee to examine closely the interpersonal and non-verbal behavior of an applicant more than interviews conducted remotely such as online interviews and phone interviews. Physical traits that have a link with the capacity of the candidate to handle a given assignment can be evident in physical interviews. One can determine the decision to conduct a physical or a remote interview by the nature of the given job. When conducting interviews for a TV presenter, physical interviews prove to be the convenient path to go for employers (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998, p. 76).

Assessment Centers

Goleman (1996, p. 45) defines an assessment center as “a variety of testing techniques designed to allow candidates to demonstrate, under standardized conditions, the skills and abilities that are most essential for success in a given job”. Assessment centers are inclusive of some defined variety of exercises. These are comprised of in-basket exercises that are in one way or the other similar to those for the job under offer. Examples of these exercises include oral exercises such as presentations, counseling simulations, role-play exercises, report analysis exercises and others. Campion et al (1997, p. 90) state, “assessment centers (ACs) have long been haunted by evidence of content- and criterion-valid ratings lacking construct validity”. There is always confusion in determining the constructs that measured as well as rating errors and the types and forms of procedures, which can be evident, by the participant inconsistencies that are experienced. In order to improve the effectiveness of assessment centers, Campion et al (1999, p. 93) suggest that need to adopt a number of features in constructing them. These include including only a small number of conceptually distinct constructs, including only the specific job-related construct definitions and employing cross-exercise assessment.

Despite the fact that people consider assessment centers as expensive and are overtly prone to cost-related assessments, they provide the best method that an employer can rely upon to determine whether a particular candidate is best suited to handle a particular responsibility. They provide a natural environment to measure the predictors of organizational success and subsequent job performance. Goleman (1996, p.45) argues that assessment centers (ACs) rate highly in terms of validity compared to other methods when used in predicting subsequent managerial performance.


This assessment method relies on the use of biographical information when selecting, hiring and promoting workers. These include records such as the Federal government’s Individual Achievement Record. These records can be of use when measuring a candidate’s social competence and cognitive abilities. Personality-related records come in handy mostly in predicting leadership skills (Goleman, 1996, p. 33). Several researchers have conducted studies that have proved the validity of Biodata theory as used in the personnel selection systems.

The Biodata theory relies tremendously on the principle that an analysis of a person’s past behavior can provide the best predictor of how well the person will handle a particular assignment. This is what people refer to as the consistency principle. In order to rate the experience of a given application in the job field, records of the person’s employment history can be the best tool to determine this. Goleman 1996 p34 argues that failure or what can be termed as negative life experiences provide unquestionable proof as to why Biodata can be effective in predicting the subsequent job performance of a person. Courage or ego-resiliency can moderate the extent to which failures or negative life experiences can affect job performance. According to Goleman, the reliability, validity and the factor structure of Biodata keys have proven to be stable across “the United States and the United Kingdom for a long period” (1996, p. 45). Meta-analytical studies conducted found that the task level specificity and job experience of candidates correlated with the subsequent job performance of the person.

Schmidt & Hunter (1998, p. 56), however, argue, “Rational Biodata scales may produce inadequate levels of validity for separate racial/ethnic groups, but empirical item analysis can be used to produce a scale valid across groups”.

Methods of evaluating selection systems

Effective selection methods save the organization a vast deal when it comes to time and finances. People can use and re-use a selection method endlessly if it bears fruits. A number of methods can serve to evaluate selection methods to determine whether they are effective in ensuring that they contribute to organizational efficiency.


Utility amounts to the extent to which a given selection system achieves in contributes to the overall performance or efficiency of an organization. Recently, a number of studies have emerged aiming at explaining how utility information communicates the effectiveness or lack of a selection process. Latham and Whyte (1994, p. 224) posit that communicating positive utility information can actually influence a manager’s intention to use a given selection system. Goleman (1987, p. 45), however, argues that utility information on a given selection system can prove to be of use only if used as supplementary information. Latham and Whyte (1994, p. 226) contest this argument stating that if communicated in terms of multiple outcomes such as the profits gained, the job performance and organizational efficiency, a selection method that had been used may gain the favor of different stakeholders.

Applicant Reactions

Applicant reactions can determine whether a selection system works and is capable of contributing to organizational efficiency. Latham and Whyte (1994, p. 246) argue that positive reactions from applicants ensure that the chances of an organization hiring the best candidates for other upcoming opportunities are raised. Positive applicant reactions can also facilitate an organization’s ability to recruit effectively and minimize the chances of costly litigation, therefore, contributing to the betterment of the organizations’ image. Selection systems can in this way be viewed as mechanisms of socialization that assist to impart job-related information to applicants, therefore, affecting their attitudes and behaviors that are related to the job (Evers et al., 2005, p. 138).

Managing the reactions of applicants does not necessarily imply the act of making the organization appear attractive and appealing to all people. This is because accurate perceptions might even lead to the withdrawal of some applicants. People have conducted a number of research studies to investigate the invasiveness of some personnel selection measures. Because of this, they have proven that certain verifiable, impersonal and valid Biodata items are less invasive mostly to people who understand the nature of Biodata. Various ways help in getting potentially invasive information without in any way interfering with the privacy of the applicants. These include explaining the job relevance of the item (Latham & Whyte, 1994, p. 250).


Based on the expositions made herein, there is the need by organizations to come up with a working selection system if at all it has to succeed in terms of the quality of its outputs. One can only rate the effectiveness of a selection system if it resulted from thorough research before implementation. The key predictors of subsequent job performance and organizational efficiency are of considerable use when seeking to determine whether the selection system will contribute towards the attainment of organizational efficiency. Selection systems can only contribute to organizational efficiency by ensuring the promotion or hiring of only the best candidates or applicants by the organization. These systems put in place mechanisms such as the most effective assessment methods that make this possible throughout the process (Evers et al., 2005, p. 136). The use of the right mechanism to select a person to occupy a certain position enhances individual performance. Selection systems discourage vices such as canvassing and corruption which can have catastrophic implications not only in terms of losses but on the image of the organizations (Evers et al., 2005, p. 121). Organizations that do not employ the right selection systems in the right manner end up losing in times of time and monetary resources as the wrong people who benefit to get jobs usually find themselves overwhelmed by the demands that a certain position has. Organizations save a lot in terms of resources such as time and finances when selection systems are effective.

Reference List

Campion, M., Palmer, D., & Campion, J. (1997). A review of structure in the selection interview. Pers. Psychol, 50(1), 655–702.

Evers, A., Anderson, N., & Olga, S. (2005). The Blackwell Handbook of Personnel Selection. New York: Wiley- Blackwell.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence. London: Bloomsbury.

Gough, H. (1968). The Chapin Social Insight Test Manual. Palo Alto, CA: Consult. Psychol Press.

Hogan, J., & Rybicki, S. (1998). Performance Improvement Characteristics Job Analysis. Tulsa, OK: Hogan Assessment Systems.

Latham, G., & Whyte, G. (1994). The futility of utility analysis. Pers. Psychol, 47(1), 31–46.

Salgado, J. (1998). Big Five personality dimensions and job performance in the army and civil occupations: a European perspective. Hum. Perform, 11(1), 271–88.

Schmidt, F., & Hunter, J. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of r research findings. London: Bloomsbury.

Schneider, J., Ackerman, L., & Kanfer R. (1996). To act wisely in human relations: exploring the dimensions of social competence. Pers. Individ. Differ, 21(3), 469–81.

Stajkovic, A., Luthans, F. (1998). Self-efficacy and work-related performance: a Meta-analysis. Psychol. Bull. 124(80, 240–61.