Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SIOP Name Change: Will They or Won't They?

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is considering a name change. For those that don't know, SIOP is a division of the American Psychological Association and has thousands of members devoted to research into a variety of phenomena, including recruitment and assessment.

SIOP was established in 1982 and a significant number of members have been asking on and off for years whether the name continues to accurately describe what they do. The problem is mainly with the "Industrial" part--it's just not a word that gets as much attention as it used to (remember when everything was "industrial strength"?).

The name change is something they've tossed around for years, but beginning in October they're going to survey their members and ask them to consider three alternatives:

1. The Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) - name's okay but continues implication that focus is on cleaning our offices; acronym sounds like a rapper; oh, and URL is taken.

2. Society for Work Psychology (SWP) - a little bland but definitely simpler; how do you say the acronym? Is it like "swap"? Or maybe "swip"? Oh, and restricts the field to "work", which is a little narrow.

3. Society for Work and Organizational Psychology (SWOP) - the most complete name in terms of description; acronym easy to use but has some interesting brethren. Too bad we couldn't come up with SWOT (ya know, as in strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Oh, and URL is taken. Sort of.

The winner between these will take on SIOP for the final determination.

My bet? Members will split among the three, none will receive a passionate endorsement and it will lose against SIOP.

Any takers?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Screening on personality: Legal loophole or pothole?

In a recent post over at ERE, the author mentions a website that provides employers with the ability to screen candidates based on a measure of personality that applicants complete online.

My reading of this article prompted the following internal debate:

Me #1: Boy oh boy, is that ever a bad idea. The Uniform Guidelines clearly state (Q&A #75) that a measure of a trait or construct cannot be validated based on content validity, which is what most employers are likely to rely on in this situation.

Me #2: Ah yes, but because personality tests typically result in much less adverse impact than traditional cognitive tests, are the Uniform Guidelines even likely to come into play?

Me #1: Maybe not, but you never know until you go through a selection process, so why take the risk?

Me #2: What about in cases where the numbers being screened are so small that adverse impact analysis is likely to be wonky? (that's a technical term)

Me #1: Well that may well be different, but you're missing the point.

Me #2: What is the point?

Me #1: That employers should use caution before screening based on constructs such as personality. They need to take validation seriously.

Me #2: But isn't it good that they're using an instrument that's at least based on an evidence-based theory of personality (the Big 5)?

Me #1: Absolutely, and props to them. But it is still incumbent on employers to realize the legal risks as well as the implications of using a self-report personality screen as a first hurdle.

Me #2: Fine, but aren't you being a little hypocritical? Haven't you said one of your goals is a giant database where applicant information can be matched with employer needs?

Me #1: True, but I was thinking more along the lines of verifiable skills testing, not self-report inventories.

Me #2: Actually in that post you specifically refer to Big 5 assessments.

Me #1: Hey! This isn't about me. This is about warning employers to make sure they know what they're doing when they screen based on personality measures.

Me #2: Aren't you making an awful lot of assumptions about the website's process without having actually used it or talked to the owners?

Me #1: Well, yes, but I'm a blogger. That's what we do.

Me #2: Ugh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 IPMA/IPAC Conference Material

Just got back from Nashville after having attended the 2009 IPMA-HR/IPAC conference. Great information, great people, and really enjoyed Nashville.

For me, the conference was largely about one thing: leadership. Makes sense in times like these, people are focusing on how leaders can help guide organizations through rough waters. People like Bob Hogan made great arguments for the importance of leadership and how far we have to go in doing a good job selecting them.

If you weren't able to attend, you can see many of the presentations here. Here's a sampling of topics:

- The selection interview

- Assessment centers for supervisors and managers

- Employee engagement

- Online testing

Can't wait for next year's IPAC conference in Newport Beach!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Considering employee testimonials? Go video.

In the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, one study stood out: the authors studied employee testimonials shown on recruitment websites. Results strongly suggest that:

(1) Including some type of testimonials increases your attractiveness as an employer; and

(2) Using more complex multimedia (video with audio) is clearly superior to simply pictures and text in terms of both attractiveness and credibility. This also helps mitigate any perceptual differences that occur when you increase the number of testimonials from minorities.

This is great validation for organizations that have put the time and effort into putting quality videos on their site.

Check out these other studies while you're at it:

Does recruitment method impact turnover? (short answer: yes, in the short run)

Interested in P-E fit? Check out this review and model development.

Like vocational interest inventories and statistics? You'll like this.

Monday, September 07, 2009

R&A Software Failures Hurt Taxpayers, Too

We tend to think of successes and failures of applicant tracking systems and other recruitment- and assessment-related technologies as impacting businesses--much of what's written is about large organizations such as Microsoft and Google and what software they decide to adopt.

But public sector organizations are using these technologies as well. And when they fail, it hurts not only the organization but taxpayers as well.

Case in point: the state of Washington recently decided to abandon their efforts to implement SAP E-Recruiting after nearly three years and millions of dollars. The state will now go with a hosted solution which is estimated to be $700-800,000 a year cheaper (and hopefully much easier) to maintain.

Having been ringside for some of this, I can tell you the problem was not with motivation or energy, or even IT knowledge. I suspect that a lion's share of the problem was related to the complexity of the program. This would match reports I've read that a significant number of organizations are moving away from single-vendor HR solutions and going with simpler, targeted products. It's also possible that businesses find it easier to implement these programs because resources (particularly internal experts) are easier to move around and buy-off is easier to obtain.

I wish them luck on their next purchase, and hope they do due diligence in their research (you can often find others who have had problems). Some type of audit may help them determine exactly what went wrong and how to prevent it the next time around. It's not just a matter of time, energy, and expense on the part of the organization, these failures impact applicants, hiring supervisors, HR staff, and ultimately taxpayers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

SNWs for R&A professionals

In the August 2009 issue of IPAC's Assessment Council News I write about how recruitment and assessment professionals can take advantage of social networking websites (SNWs) such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Ning, and offer some cautionary notes about using them.

The article covers what will be familiar ground to many of you, but I tried to also talk about how we can use these sites for professional development, not just for sourcing or selection.

The article ends with a very Web 1.0 idea--a solicitation of letters to the editor. I'll make the same request here: what do YOU think about these websites--flash in the pan or here to stay? Approach with kid gloves or jump right in?