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15dots® Selection Process Shortcuts: Danger Ahead

15dots® Selection Process Shortcuts: Danger Ahead

Once an organization implements the 15dots Selection Process, it is tempting to take shortcuts. If you think about efficiency and effectiveness, the notion of shortcuts stems from the desire for efficiency. Sure, an organization can take shortcuts, but at what cost in terms of effectiveness? Think about this: One would not even ponder taking shortcuts on a tried-and-true manufacturing process, so why would they take shortcuts on a tried-and-true employee selection process?


The 15dots® Selection Process

The 15dots Selection Process has eight basic parts, and each of these parts has been professionally developed to be technically sound:

  1. Applicant Pool Formation (also known as recruitment)
  2. Candidate Screening
  3. Ability Testing
  4. Candidate Briefing
  5. A Realistic Job Preview
  6. A Structured Board Interview
  7. A Computation of the Data
  8. A Final Hiring Decision

Let’s look at each of these components, followed by the dangers of typical shortcuts. We’ll look at topics 1–4 in this blog and 5-8 in the next one.

Applicant Pool Formation

The objective of an applicant pool formation strategy is to achieve a large and diverse pool of candidates. Moving applicant pool formation strategies from passive (e.g., relying on one’s reputation as a large local employer) to active (e.g., frequently marketing and advertising to prospective candidates in creative, impactful ways) requires work.

Organizations may perceive themselves as a premier employer, but that only leads to attracting more applicants, rather than better ones. Active recruitment efforts ensure a robust applicant pool with viable candidates. However, it’s still necessary to use rigorous selection techniques to identify those viable candidates. Shortcuts in applicant pool formation reduce the number of viable candidates available for selection. This also affects the fundamental principle of a desired normal distribution of applicants. 

Lesson #1 — Fishing in the Wrong Pond

Situation & Behavior: We worked with a manufacturing facility on the West Coast that insisted on securing all their applicants from the state employment service to control applicant flow. The manufacturer was a premier employer, and the mill was a great place to work.

Shortcut Impact: It turns out that the applicants from the state scored, as a group, one standard deviation below the expected means on the ability test battery. This was analogous to “fishing in the wrong pond.” There were fewer “keepers” in the pool they were drawing from. We pointed out this finding, encouraged them to “fish” in more and varied areas, and the facility changed that bad habit. The mill then became more active in its applicant pool formation by using other sources.

Candidate Screening

The 15dots screening process considers a pre-determined selection ratio and a distribution of candidates. Traditionally, HR personnel screen applications and resumes and often use years of experience, education, and work history as decision criteria. However, research shows that it’s virtually impossible to control bias with this type of screening, and viable candidates are often missed with this approach.

Lesson #2 – Being too Zealous with Screening

Situation & Behavior: We were working with a client to re-staff their operation. The HR manager handed us a stack of resumes in three piles, those who were a definite yes to take to the next stage, those who were a definite no, and those who were a “maybe” because they did not fit the criteria for experience, education, or work history. We suggested that the manager should leave all the “maybe” candidates in the selection process even though some did not seem to be a good fit.

One of the “maybe” candidates was a former chef who was initially excluded because she lacked manufacturing experience.

Impact: Leaving that former chef in the selection process was a plus. She did well on the interview and the tests, was hired, and ultimately became one of the plant’s best operators. Had the client looked only at the candidates who looked good on paper, they would have missed a strong performer.

In our work, we see organizations use screening data that is extremely low in validity, such as years of experience, required industrial experience, years of formal education, grade point averages, and geographical areas. (Watch for a future blog on how to reduce bias in screening.) When in doubt, leave a candidate in the process and allow the power of ability tests and a board interview to do their work.

Ability & Aptitude Testing

Testing in the 15dots Selection Process involves a battery of five ability or special aptitude tests that have been identified with a bona-fide job analysis system. The test battery has a gender-balanced impact where two tests favor females as a group, two favor males, and one is neutral. All tests receive the same weight.

Lesson #3 – Using Selection Tests Without Supporting Science

Situation & Behavior: We have seen shortcuts where some tests have been eliminated, the pre-determined testing sequence is altered, homemade tests are used, etc. All these shortcuts may or may not reduce the time for testing, but all certainly affect the effectiveness of the test battery and may increase the risk of adverse impact claims.

Shortcut Impact: In the 80’s I became aware of a homemade test that was being used to screen applicants for a maintenance apprenticeship program in a mill in the South. The face validity of the test was evident, but the test created adverse, discriminatory impact and no other evidence of validity existed. The result of a government challenge was a cease-and-desist order that followed a fine of $1 million.

Candidate Briefing

Briefing the candidates is essential to give applicants an opportunity to learn about the organization, including the job site and working conditions in terms of pay, fringe benefits, schedules, overtime, etc. A standard candidate briefing also should include a question/answer forum.

The candidate briefing may appear to be a recruiting attempt, but it also impacts selection. At every stage in a selection process, candidates are gathering information and preparing to make decisions about whether or not they want to work for a particular company. Candidates who are not briefed about the work environment miss out on important information that may impact job satisfaction and a decision to join or leave a company. Cutting this briefing short or omitting it altogether is problematic.

Lesson #4 – Failing to Remember That Selection Goes Both Ways

Situation & Behavior: We have a client that uses a combination of hazardous chemicals (acids and gases) in its manufacturing process. They maintained that it would be unsafe to provide job candidates with a tour of the facility as part of the candidate briefing. We replied, “But then you want to tell them on the first day on the job that they will be working around hazardous chemicals?”

After reflection, they developed a tour route that used a bus, an operator, and supporting visuals to get candidates as close as possible to the work in a safe manner so that job information could be shared and questions answered.

Impact: This openness aided their selection efforts and ensured that candidates knew what to expect if offered a job at the plant. Since 1 of 3 new hires in the current era leave their jobs within a 3-month period, a pre-boarding briefing is an important recruitment and retention insurance policy.

Tried-and-True Employee Selection System

When organizations take shortcuts with the 15dots Selection Process, they are trying to minimize the time and financial resources it takes to hire employees. Yet we believe the 15dots Selection Process is worth the time and effort. What if 9 out of 10 of your hires met the standard of your industry’s best performers? Organizations that cut corners won’t achieve these results. Employers who use the 15dots Selection Process tell us they experience a noticeable uptick in employee performance and contributions. To be trained in a repeatable, scalable, and game-changing employee selection process, contact us today. 

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