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Validity of interview and personality assessment

The management of human resources has become one of the major challenges of companies. The choice of appropriate selection methods is crucial, mainly as errors in the recruitment process are costly to the companies. The only way to be effective in managing human resources is to use selection methods whose reliability has been proven scientifically. It is not enough to feel a selection method is appropriate for her to be in reality. Certainly, we can consider this insight as a first indication, but not give it great importance, and be especially careful not to turn it into a true belief. In this perspective, the experimental verification of any assessment method is the only rational way that can confirm or deny the validity of an evaluation method. Given the impressive amount of selection methods, each of which claims to be the most effective it is not easy to make a choice. This is especially true; in general, HR professionals do not know the most relevant selection method that they can use. Must we choose, for example, an evaluation method based on its reputation or frequency of use? In this perspective, is a selection method which is known or widely used relevant? What are they really able to predict and to what extent? The purpose of this research is to advise on the effectiveness of selection interviews and personality assessment in decisions related to prediction of job performance.

The main purpose of the selection process is to select the best applicant from the applicant pool that will perform well in the job. Thus predictability of job performance of the applicant is an essential component of selection thus various measurement tools are used to assess the possibilities of successful candidates, selection interviews, and personality assessment are amongst the widely used. But to safely use a performance predictor method, it is essential that it should have specific scientific references to guarantee maximum efficiency. These benchmarks will verify if the method used measures what it purports to measure. Also it is worthy to note that for selection interviews and personality assessment to be effective job performance predictors they should posses certain essential qualities, and should be used in respect of certain rules and under certain conditions.

As aforementioned it for selection any selection method to play its role of job performance predictor, there should be certain scientific benchmarks that verify if the measure actually measures what it purports to and the measure should be used under certain conditions following a given procedure.

• Essential qualities of job performance predictors
The first criterion concerns the psychometric qualities which are three in number namely; reliability, utility or variability and validity.

Reliability is the first of the qualities any job performance predictor should posses. Reliability is obtained when a procedure applied twice to the same subjects gives practically equivalent results.There are three methods to evaluate the reliability of a test, all three based on a correlation study. The first is the method of test-retest, the second is called the uniformity and the third is the method of equivalence
The utility or variability of a method of assessment is an essential quality which will help to classify subjects thus discriminating. In other words, the method used should allow drawing a clear cut distinction between subjects that take the assessment on the measure it purports to measure. It is essential that the procedure is neither too difficult nor too easy and it is especially adapted to the population in question.

Finally, validity is the last quality that must possess an assessment method. This will be valid if it really brings the expected information necessary for decision making.

There are three types of validity:
– Content validity; which raises the question of whether, the content of the assessment method is the content area of this method is suppose to measure.
-Construct validity that will legitimize the value of the tool, it will check if the tool actually develops measures for the phenomenon it is supposed to measure.
– Predictive validity assesses whether the test can predict behaviour in a work situation.
The second criterion is sampling and calibration.

Sampling is to determine a population sample on which the assessment method will be calibrated. This is in accordance with the objective of the test and candidates to which it will be applied, the selected sample will be representative of the population as a whole or a specified portion of the population according to age, sex, level of education or function.
Benchmarking, meanwhile, is a process to have standards against which to compare issues between them. On the other hand, a reliable method of assessment which can be used by professional safely must necessarily provide reliable reference standards that can allow a single subject to be compared to a group.
It is essential that the calibration groups are sufficiently important and most representative. Indeed, the validity of an interpretation depends exclusively on the quality of sampling and representativeness of standards.
If these various requirements are not met, it is likely that the valuation method used does not have any guarantee for its user.
• Terms of use and conditions of administration of job performance predictors

The relevance of a job performance predictor requires that we focus on the conditions of use and administration. With these conditions, two concepts are fundamental. The first concerns the standardization and the second concerns the actors who are responsible for their implementation.

The standardization of a situation must allow comparison between subjects respecting a number of parameters such as:
– The psychological conditions of the candidates (reassure the candidates);
– Compliance level instructions (the transmission must be the same for each candidate);
-Compliance with environmental conditions (the environment must be the same and most appropriate for each candidate), the full standardization of a situation does not exist and the only ambition is to approach it.
It is not enough that the tools meet scientific requirements, nor that there exist standardized situations. It also requires that the assessment methods are chosen carefully and used in conditions where professionalism and ethics should prevail.

This section is devoted to the level of validity of the main methods of assessment used in a context of professional prognosis. These data are derived from a synthesis of scientific literature on the subject.
• The selection interview

The interview as a job performance predictor has always occupied the first place. But according to numerous studies, it is not a technique as reliable as one might think. However, the interview as a job performance predictor tool is absolutely essential but it might be wiser to give it less weight in decision making.
The majority of work indicates that the traditional interview (unstructured, semi-structured interview and direct interviews) has low reliability, poor validity and unlike structured and situational interviews, which are conceived after propal job analysis have stronger reliability and validity.
The low relevance of the traditional interview is simple to understand and, for a number of reasons.
On the one hand, the lack of interview guide contributes to increase the difficulty of asking the same questions to each candidate.
On the other hand, the situations are not standardized and therefore it is quite possible that the change of environment in which each candidate takes the interview, may distort the content of the interview.
In addition, to the contrast effect do not forget that in reality, consultants or hiring managers rarely perform interviews in a single day. According to multiple studies, it appears that there is a contrast effect that indicates at least part of the assessment of the interviewee would be due to the quality of interviewees who immediately proceeded.
What may seem surprising is the preponderance of traditional interview as a job performance predictor and selection method while its reliability is low.
Despite this finding, the aim is not to abandon maintenance on the contrary, but make sure to increase its reliability and validity.
By conducting a job analysis of the position in order to develop a guide that might help to ask only questions related to the position vacant. The reliability of the interview will be even better.
The validity can be improved by training the interviewers through seminars, on interview techniques. Knowing the shortcomings of an interview, but also be able to better combat them.

• Personality assessment

Personality assessment includes all tests using the cognitive and affective aspects of personality. There are two types of personality assessments used in selection: the personality questionnaires and projective tests.

While personality tests and projective techniques assess personality, these two methods are fundamentally different. Thus, if the projective tests part of a comprehensive approach to personality, personality tests are part of a much more analytical approach, which decomposes the personality traits such as Extraversion, Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience which is a five factor model widely accepted taxonomy of personality(Rothstein &Goffin,2006).
Murphy (2000) has provided an analysis of the key issues to consider justifying making inferences from meta-analyses for research or personnel selection. These issues are (a) the quality of the data base and the quality of the primary studies it contains; (b) whether the studies included in the meta-analysis are representative of the population of potential applications of the predictor; (c) whether a particular test being considered for use is a member of the population of instruments examined in the meta-analysis; and (d) whether the situation intended for use is similar to the situations sampled in the meta-analysis

Barrick and Mount found that the estimated true correlation between FFM dimensions of personality and performance across both occupational groups and criterion types ranged from .04 for Openness to Experience to .22 for Conscientiousness. Although correlations in this range may seem relatively modest, nevertheless these results provided a more optimistic view of the potential of personality for predicting job performance and this study had an enormous impact on researchers and practitioners (Mount &Barrick,1998; Murphy,1997, 2000).
In addition, there is a continuing debate on whether or not such “broad” personality dimensions are more or less effective than narrow (i.e., specific traits) personality measures for predicting job performance (see below for a review of this ongoing debate). Once again, it is not possible to review in this context all the controversies and debate surrounding how well the FFM represents the structure of personality. However, for researchers and practitioners interested in the use of personality measures in personnel selection, it is important to recognize that there is more to personality than the FFM. The choice of personality measure to use in a selection context should consider a number of factors, not the least of which is the development of a predictive hypothesis on the relations expected between the personality measure and the performance criterion of interest (Rothstein & Jelley, 2003).
Two other issues made salient by the contribution of meta-analytic studies to understanding personality–job performance research concern the importance of acknowledging the bidirectional nature of much more potential personality – job performance relations, and appreciating the potential role of moderators between personality and performance criteria.

The projective methods based on the notion of perceptual mechanism and consist of a set of tests that will help from a more or less structured material an emotional release, a projection of the personality of the subject in the test. These techniques allow a holistic evaluation i.e. the overall personality, which is regarded as a dynamic evolving. Mastery of these methods requires a long training which usually lasts several years after a complete course in psychology

In summary, despite the controversy surrounding the meta-analysis and the FFM, the weight of the meta-analysis evidence clearly leads to the conclusion that the measures of personality may be a significant contributor to the prediction of job performance. The impact of these meta-analysis has opposed the earlier findings of Guion and Gottier (1965) and put the personality back into research and practice. In the decade or more since these meta-analysis began to be published research of personality and job performance has continued, creating a wealth of understanding and implications for the use of personality measures in personnel selection. We review the important future trends in this research, with particular emphasis on implications for research and practice in human resource management.

Although criticism of the FFM continues, many researchers have accepted it as a
reasonable taxonomy of personality characteristics and moved beyond the basic question of whether personality predicts job performance to examine more specific applications (Rothstein & Jelley, 2003).

Simmering, Colquitt, Noe, and Porter (2003) determined that Conscientiousness was positively related to employee development, but only when employees felt that the degree of autonomy in their jobs did not fit their needs. The importance of a confirmatory research strategy was reinforced by Nikolaou (2003) who reported that although FFM dimensions were not generally related to overall job performance, Agreeableness were related to performance involving interpersonal skills.

Hochwarter, Witt, and Kacmar (2000) determined that Conscientiousness was related to performance when employees perceived high levels of organizational politics, but no relations were found among employees perceiving low levels of organizational politics.

Witt, 2002), Extraversion was related to job performance when employees were also high in Conscientiousness, but with employees low in Conscientiousness, Extraversion was negatively related to performance.

As Rothstein and Jelly (2003) have argued, personality measures are relatively more situationally specific, compared with a measure of general mental ability. This makes the use of validity generalization principles to justify the use of a personality measure in selection more challenging because there may be numerous situational moderators as the above research illustrates. For human resource researchers and practitioners in personnel selection, the key is careful alignment of personality and performance criteria as well as consideration of other potential contextual factors related to the job or organization.

Another potential interpretation of the relatively low correlations typically found between personality measures and job performance criteria, in addition to unknown or unmeasured moderator effects, is that personality may only have indirect effects on performance and that there may be stronger relations with mediator variables that in turn are more strongly related to job performance (Rothstein & Jelley, 2003). The logic of this proposition is based on the generally accepted definition of personality as a predisposition to certain types of behavior. Accordingly, if this behavior could be measured directly, such measures may mediate relations between personality and job performance. Only a small number of research studies have been conducted over the past decade, but results support the existence of mediator effects.

Collectively these studies illustrate once again that a confirmatory research strategy provides valuable insights to the nature of personality–job performance relations. Such strategies contribute to more comprehensive predictive models and better understanding of how personality affects job performance directly and indirectly. Although relatively few studies of mediator effects have been reported in the literature thus far, existing research indicates that both research and practice in personnel selection would benefit from such studies. Discovering indirect effects of personality on job performance through mediator variables may also help to understand why so many personality–job performance relations are situationally specific which in turn would lead to more effective personnel selection practices.

Although repeated meta-analyses have supported the conclusion that personality predicts job performance (Barrick & Mount,2003), from the perspective of human resource researchers and practitioners an important question remaining is to what degree is this prediction incremental in validity and value over other personnel selection techniques.

Judge, Bono, Ilies, and Gerhardt (2002) determined that Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness were all related to leadership criteria (leader emergence and leader effectiveness) with Extraversion being the most consistent predictor across studies.