[IPAC-List] Would you rather.....?

Reed, Elizabeth EReed1 at Columbus.gov
Tue Apr 7 12:40:32 EDT 2009

After someone has proven themselves by doing the job for 18 months then they established merit, but the problem I have with the example of contractors is I don't know how the contractor got selected in the first place. If that selection was not open and was not based upon merit, then it's ripe for cronyism and abuse. The value of the feedback from the managers who made the selections and who are evaluating their performance becomes suspect. The entire process is open to all kinds of problems.

Why not continue to have faith in both as part of the full selection process? There is the important issue of deciding who gets the coveted 8-month try out. If I have hundreds candidates for one job, it's not feasible to try them all out for 8 months. The idea of randomly selecting someone and trying them out seems costly if it doesn't work out.
So test using relevant and valid tools, predict who will likely be most successful, then properly use the probationary period, typically six months to a year, as the try out. While, it's still costly if it doesn't work out, at least you reduced the risk and the likelihood of the selection failing to perform at expected levels.

The idea of not using the probationary period is not as appealing either; we can't test everything. There may be a critical flaw in the candidate that just isn't observable prior to hiring, therefore having a probationary period in which we can terminate employment before they are difficult to terminate, due to union representation, etc. makes a great deal of sense.

Another way to use both options is a follows:
Over the years, we have hired temporary employees to help with test administration without the benefit of testing them first. In some cases those on the eligible list weren't interested in temporary intermittent work. Many of the selected employee have turned out to be excellent and we had the desire to make them regular part-time employees. To ensure merit, it's our policy that each would take the test for the appropriate classification and they would need to pass the exam to get hired as a regular part-time employees.


Elizabeth A. Reed
Police and Fire Assessment Supervisor
Columbus Civil Service Commission
750 Piedmont Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43224
Office: (614) 645-6032 Fax: (614) 645-0866
Email: Ereed1 at columbus.gov

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:56 AM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: [IPAC-List] Would you rather.....?

Select a candidate using a half dozen of the crème de la crème of relevant tools out there, or get to hire them as temps for 8 months and see what they can do before making a decision?

Where do you place your faith *more*, in well-developed tools or in what you think you see with your own eyes?

I add the following caveats:

1) This obviously assumes that the position *permits* this kind of choice to exist. I doubt many would want to "try out" people as temporary incumbents in public safety/protection or emergency positions.

2) This also assumes that performance is actually observable by the hiring manager. I understand that jobs, and work contexts, vary in the likelihood that 6, 8, or even 18 months provides adequate opportunity to get a clear and confident sense of whether the incumbent meets, and possibly exceeds, the requirements for the position.

3) In some respects, "good" tools serve as a proxy for on-the-job observation. I.E., "If I can't try them out for real, I can at least see what they do in a simulated situation, or what I can expect in such situations".

4) I have a definite bias towards a monitoring perspective. In other words, merit is great, but I have to be in a position to count it and argue its existence (or reduction) before legislators and senior officials. So, **common sense** says that if you hire someone permanently that you've had on contract for 18 months already, that 18 months probably predicts future performance at least as well, or perhaps better than, a handful of scores. But the monitoring imperative says that I cannot simply ask 2000 managers "Are you happy with the person you hired?", then turn around and present that to senior officials as "proof" of merit. Similarly, if you get someone on a casual/contract (and non-competitive) basis to fill a short-term need, is it reasonable and guided by merit to appoint them eventually because, after all, "they can do the job"? Or is there something missing?

5) People WILL use testing, and people WILL attempt to convert short-term contracts into long-term or permanent ones, simply because it is more expedient than running a competition. Can all of that (formal competitions, try-before-you-buy, "well, they're doing the job already", sham competitions, etc.) peacefully co-exist?

So that's the challenge: Do we absolutely NEED testing to be assured of merit, or are there dependable substitutes?

Mark Hammer
IPAC-List at ipacweb.org http://www.ipacweb.org/mailman/listinfo/ipac-list

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