Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Practice guidelines for personnel selection?

I was listening to a piece on NPR this afternoon that got me thinking about best practices in personnel selection and assessment.

The news story was about the apparent undue influence that drug manufacturer Eli Lilly had on the creation of what are called
"practice guidelines" that are essentially best practices for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

This started the wheels turning...why aren't there any guidelines for personnel selection?

Yes, I know about the
Uniform Guidelines . But (1) they're very much out of date, (2) they're not concise, and (3) they're not written for the lay HR person. This may be somewhat unfair criticism, as they were not meant to be "personnel selection for dummies", but them's the facts.

Yes, I also know about
SIOP Principles . But many of the criticisms leveled about the Uniform Guidelines can also be made in reference to this document: It's not easy to read and it doesn't serve as pracical guidance for your average HR person. Not was it meant to.

So where does that leave us? With a lot of books in the business section on how to hire, hiring the best, etc. etc. Most of these books are quite lengthy and cover way too much.

What I want is something people can (1) easily understand, and (2) point to as THE current, professionally agreed upon set of standards for planning, developing, and administering good assessment instruments. And there are two documents that come close to my vision.

The first is the Department of Labor's
guide on testing and assessment . It's easy to read, very well organized, and relatively brief. And it accurately summarizes best practices and even manages to weave in a little research. Very nice.

The second is SIOP's
FYI on testing . Also well organized, easy to read, but perhaps a bit lengthy.

Now neither of these documents is required reading. No one is going to check to see if you're testing in accordance with them. But we should be. We should be holding selection processes to a standard, and one that pretty much the entire profession agrees upon. We should put something out there that says: don't use a three point un-anchored rating scale when rating an interview response. Do a job analysis--don't argue, just do it--and here's how it needs to be done. And here's how you write a good multiple choice test.

Where is this document? Where is this help for the lone HR person trying to figure out if they're doing things the right way? And why haven't we put something together by now?

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