Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New blog: Criteria

Let's welcome a new blog in town. The new entrant is a corporate blog from Criteria, an employment testing firm based in LA.

They start off with a bang, taking a clever look at the relationship between Wonderlic scores (a measure of cognitive ability) and performance in the NFL.

Good stuff, check it out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Have teens lost the ability to write?

Have teenagers lost the ability to form a coherent sentence? It's something I've been hearing off and on the last few years from hiring managers and teachers. Generally I chalk it up to the normal generational differences, but given results from a recent survey I may have to change my tune.

The survey results come from a new study out by the Pew Internet and American Life Project--"Writing, Technology, and Teens." The researchers conducted focus groups and a national telephone survey of 700 parent-child pairs in the fall of 2007.

Here are some of the results:
  • "85% of teens ages 12-17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending email or instant messages, or posting comments on social networking sites." [They were twice as likely to send text messages as they were e-mail]
  • "60% of teens do not think of these electronic texts as “writing.”"
  • "50% of teens say they sometimes use informal writing styles instead of proper capitalization and punctuation in their school assignments"
  • "38% say they have used text shortcuts in school work such as “LOL”"
  • "25% have used emoticons (symbols like smiley faces ☺) in school work"
Wow. Color me wrong. I had no idea the practice was so rampant. But there may be a silver lining to this survey:
  • "86% of teens believe good writing is important to success in life"
and they may know how to improve things:
  • "82% of teens feel that additional in-class writing time would improve their writing abilities and 78% feel the same way about their teachers using computer-based writing tools"
So is this a big deal for recruitment and assessment? Potentially, if the work that needs to be done requires traditional, formal writing skill. But what if it doesn't? And what happens when this generation becomes managers--will they care if their subordinates use shortcuts and emoticons?

If one thing is made clear by this survey, it's not that teens don't think writing is important. It's that we may be in for a slight evolution in our written language. We may need to re-think the answer to this question: What is good writing?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Web 2.0 Presentation

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at WRIPAC's April meeting in beautiful Napa, CA.

The topic was "Recruiting in the Age of Web 2.0" and I covered topics such as wikis, social networking, and blogs (which, coincidentally, I'm sure they're talking about right now just over the hills in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Expo).

For those of you that weren't able to attend but are interested, you can view the slideshow below or here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What does your selection process say about your culture?

Organizational culture is important. The typical ways of making decisions, of communicating, and responding to events, say things about "the way things are done."

So what does your selection process say about your culture? Scott Adams makes a good point that things like trust and respect are frequently claimed, but what happens when your actions don't necessarily match your words?

Solution: communicate, communicate, communicate. Let applicants know why you put them through what you do.

Oh, and while we're at it, be careful who you ask to do your selection.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rocket-hire releases 5th annual survey results

I don't usually link to a single article, but this is an exception. Every year, Rocket-Hire and our friend Dr. Charles Handler release the results of an annual survey on the usage of online screening and assessment tools. This year marks the fifth survey and it's got some interesting results based on responses from 141 recruiting and hiring professionals:

1. Many, if not most, organizations are using an ATS. For large organizations (5,000+ employees), usage was 100%.

2. Surprisingly, many organizations are not using online qualification prescreening. Only 47% ask about basic qualifications while only 24% ask about technical skills or certifications. Why surprising? Because it's one thing ATSs tend to be decent at.

3. Use of personality measures as an assessment tool jumped in the last five years from 21% to 59% (which certainly matches the interest I'm seeing). In fact, they were the most popular assessment tool reported, followed closely by skills/knowledge tests. Least used? Simulations and online interviews. I see lots of potential in the former as our technology improves.

4. Assessment tools in general are more widely used than they were five years ago. "Fit" measures went from 29% to 40%, cognitive ability tests from 26% to 41%, and skills/knowledge tests leaped from 12% to 56%. This is good news indeed (assuming the tests are good!).

5. Unfortunately only 27% of users of prescreening tools and 36% of assessment users collect metrics to measure their success. Those that did were much more likely to find these measures effective. Hey, you can't know if you don't measure!

There's a lot more in the article (e.g., take a look at biodata usage). By the way, full results and analysis will be in the May issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Are the Uniform Guidelines obsolete?

It must be Uniform Guidelines week.

In my last post I talked about how the EEOC doesn't appear to have any intentions of changing them anytime soon.

Now, in the April '08 issue of TIP Dan Biddle makes an argument in favor of their continued relevance.

Biddle provides a useful mini-history of the Guidelines and sums up nicely why we care about them:

"This document has since been used in thousands of government enforcement and judicial settings where employers have been required to demonstrate that their selection procedures causing adverse impact are sufficiently “job related” by addressing the Guidelines requirements."

He also briefly reviews the differences between the Guidelines and the other "biggies" for employers, the SIOP Principles and the APA Standards. While the two latter documents are newer and generally more thorough in their treatment of issues such as validity, when it comes to legal challenges Biddle points out that the Guidelines have been referenced in hundreds of Title VII cases while the Principles and Standards have been collectively cited less than 40 times.

Biddle ends the article with an extended treatment of validity generalization and how the topic is treated by the Guidelines and courts (not well) compared to psychologists (better). He comes down in favor of the continued relevance of the Guidelines and questions whether they need to be updated at all.

Here's my favorite quote:

"If the first burden in Title VII settings (proving adverse impact) cannot be carried using evidence solely from external locations, it seems to follow that the second burden (proving validity) should likewise not be provable using only external evidence. One can only imagine the outcry of defense attorneys if government enforcement agencies or plaintiff attorneys were permitted to transport or generalize adverse impact into a local employer based on adverse impact that occurred “at some other location.”"

Good point. And good article.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Uniform Guidelines to get 3-yr extension; no clarity on "applicant"

Hurry up and wait.

That's how many employers are likely going to feel after finding out that the U.S. EEOC has proposed extending the federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures for another three years with no changes.

Importantly, the EEOC has stated its intention not to finalize the five additional Q&As that they floated back in 2004 to try to clarify what is meant by "applicant." This clarity is greatly sought after by employers, particularly in the wake of the OFCCP's Internet Applicant rule.

Here's part of what the EEOC writes in the Federal Register:

"In light of the EEOC’s unique enforcement responsibilities and priorities monitoring employment practices and detecting employment discrimination, it will determine, after further study, how and if it should issue further guidance or regulations clarifying Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding when employers and job seekers use the Internet and related technologies."

Looks like they got cold feet. At this point they're looking for additional commentary regarding whether collection of this data is even necessary and, if so, how exactly it should be done.

Hat tip.

Friday, April 04, 2008

2008 PTC-NC Conference, Day 2

In my previous post I talked about the first day of the 2008 PTC-NC Conference. Today I'll give you a rundown of the second day.

The day started off with a bang due to a keynote address by noted personality researcher Robert Hogan. Dr. Hogan never disappoints, and his presentation was a mini-history of personality testing combined with executive assessment and organizational performance--all in 75 minutes. Major themes included the importance of leadership personality, how reputation is much more important (from a measurement perspective) than identity, why leadership effectiveness should be defined by team performance, and the characteristics of great leaders (e.g., integrity, decisiveness, competence, vision). You can get some of the same flavor in a recent American Psychologist article he co-authored.

The first breakout featured Jim Higgins (Cal DOJ) discussing an internet-based applicant self-assessment career tool and Greg Beatty (IRS) describing how the IRS has modernized using a competency-based approach. I attended Greg's (since I work within throwing distance of Jim), and he provided a great overview of some of the innovative things the IRS is doing both for incumbents and applicants, including job simulations, online assessment tools, and a career management center. "IRS...really?" you say? Yup. Don't believe me? Check out the simplicity and ease of use of their career site.

The last sessions of the conference included one on how to use MS Excel to automate selection by Dan Kuang (Biddle) and another on the leadership developmental assessment center (LDAC) by Matt Gruver (CPS). I attended Matt's, where he provided a great overview of how to develop an LDAC, including the importance of competency definition, how top management involvement is key, and how participants often are very appreciative of the (unusually rare) honest feedback they receive. Can't wait to put one together!

Overall, a great program and kudos to the organizers! Looking forward to next year.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

2008 PTC-NC Conference, Day 1

On March 20th and 21st I was lucky enough to attend (and present) at the 2008 PTC-NC Conference. There were several great presentations and I'm going to break the summary up into two days for ya.

The conference started off with Michael Harris, professor of International Business at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with an update on what the courts have been saying in the area of adverse impact and employment testing. Some major points:

- Although criterion-related validity has been discussed a lot lately, Dr. Harris predicted that a content validation strategy will continue to be the most popular choice of employers.

- They're not perfect, but courts will continue to rely on the Uniform Guidelines when judging employers' efforts to validate their tests.

- Employers should be prepared to answer what alternative tests they considered before choosing the ones they did (the third prong of this type of case).

The next session was a breakout, with Chris Wright and Louis Xavier (SF State) presenting on stereotype threat while I went over the results of a demographic analysis I conducted on applicants to an on-line T&E system. Bottom line of my presentation: there were some clear demographic differences in the jobs applied for but actual instances of adverse impact (using 4/5ths rule) were rare.

Next up was another breakout, with Jim Kuthy (Biddle) presenting on AutoGOJA while Shelley Langan (CPS) presented on succession planning. I attended Shelley's, which focused on the importance of workforce planning given current demographics and provided some practical tips on how to put together a successful plan. Some key takeaways: limit succession planning to certain positions, consider inviting everyone to apply, and conduct a future-oriented job analysis as part of your planning process.

The last breakout featured an introduction to competency modeling by Nathan Ainspan (independent consultant) and a presentation on using personality testing by Shelley Langan and Howard Fortson (CPS). I attended the latter, where we had a spirited discussion of the state of personality testing and how to introduce personality testing to your selection process (hint: rhymes with job analysis). Example business measures they mentioned included the CPI, HPI, NEO, and 16-PF. They also mentioned an upcoming article by Hough & Oswald where the authors list all of the various outcomes that personality tests have been able to successfully predict.

Last but not least that day was an outstanding keynote address by James Outtz, president of Outtz and Associates and international expert on employment testing and discrimination. Dr. Outtz went over a wide range of issues related to those subjects, including the balance between validity and adverse impact (so well covered in the most recent issue of Personnel Psychology). He introduced some fascinating research that showed that while multiple choice formats showed adverse impact against African Americans and Hispanics (favoring Caucasians and Asians), the opposite was the case for multiple list (divergent) items. Perhaps most interesting was his description of a questionnaire he developed called the Job Perception Index that served as both a realistic job preview and a selection device for firefighter positions. Some great stuff from a fabulous speaker.

That's it for now--those of you that attended, feel free to comment or add! Tomorrow: Day 2.