[IPAC-List] Job Qualifications

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Wed May 12 16:37:18 EDT 2010

Fair points.

Having said that, it may be easier for managers to stay on top of the
KSAs for a job, than stay on top of what T&E is out there and likely to
substitute nicely for KSAs.

In our context, internal candidates who might be screened out on the
basis of T&E, early on, have the right to an explanation of why they
were eliminated from further consideration, and can be screened back in
if that discussion reveals an error in the assessment of T&E. I am
pleased to say that our surveys indicates a pleasing number (not too
high, not too low) indicate they are being screened back in as a result
of this mechanism. On the basis of that, I feel more comfortable about
adopting use of T&E and resumés.

At the same time, some work by a colleague indicates that you get no
adverse impact with T&E, largely because everybody BS's about T&E, so no
specific demographic groups looks bad.

Putting this altogether:

1)If there are assurances that the *right* T&E requirements have been
identified by the hiring manager and that they are consistently
identifiable by the people in HR going through the files, and
2) If people tell you the truth regarding their T&E, without poetic
license, and
3) If there is a mechanism to catch people whose T&E looked different
from what you were seeking, such that they can be assessed fairly and
don't slip through your fingers,

Then yes, all the validity Lorin touts is likely to be in evidence, and
suitable for selection purposes. I think it is fair to say, though,
that there are some jobs where the KSAs are much easier to identify and
assess than the T&E. Not all, but certainly some.

I think it is unwise to place all one's hopes for attracting and
retaining the right sorts of applicants, merely by doing everything you
can to expedite the hiring process. There is much to be said for simply
explaining to people what steps are involved in hiring, how long they
take and why, and giving them some feedback about what point they are at
in the process. You certainly do lose good candidates because another
offer came along before your offer was ready, but if these folks are
wallpapering the internet with their resumé, the odds are very good your
offer will NEVER be able to come in fast enough to avoid that scenario,
no matter what policies and resources you throw at it, unless you
completely forego merit and fairness. And if those two things are
important to you, AND they take time, people deserve to know that. If
it's something that is going to take a little longer, but give them
coworkers they enjoy working with and can trust, they deserve to know
that too.

Finally, there is a difference between using T&E as a min qual, and
using T&E as if it was biodata. My sense is that T&E has some validity
for each use, but that using T&E as biodata (or as Lorin puts it: "
insight into how people acquire KSAOs") requires a whole lot more
homework on the part of the hiring manager. And, as so many managers
tell me in their survey comments, they already have a full time job, and
do not wish to tale on a second one when it comes to staffing. If the
organization has the latitude and resources to make effective and valid
use of biodata, go for it. I'm a developmental psychologist by
training, so you don't have to work hard to persuade me about the
insight it can offer. But I'm not seeing it as something that will be
used by many organizations and hiring managers with ease....or

Mark Hammer

>>> "Mueller, Lorin" <LMueller at air.org> 5/12/2010 3:58 pm >>>

Some thoughts from 9 or so years of peering over the shoulders of
federal hiring managers.

1) Even is KSA statements are more valid than résumé -based decisions,
it doesn't matter much if they discourage applicants or if applicants
select-out before decisions can be made. The most common complaints
among my federal clients is that they get a certificate of eligibles,
start calling to arrange interviews, and everyone withdraws because they
have already found other jobs. And these are folks who filled out the
application in the first place.

2) I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that KSA statements are
more valid than point-based T&Es. I think the problem with point-based
T&Es is that we don't have a way to score them that is consistent with
reality. These things aren’t additive, they are configural. Early in
the federal hiring process, we just want to know whether someone has the
basic qualifications to perform the work successfully. That typically
requires one of many combinations of education and experience that we
believe confer KSAs. In our SIOP workshop, Steve Ferrara and I presented
(in brief) a potential method for matrix-based resume scoring that I
think is more reliable, valid, and legally defensible than other
approaches. It still may not be the equal to the validity of KSA
statements in a lab setting, but it lowers the time investment for
highly qualified applicants. In short, I think there are valid ways to
score résumés that are valid for making basic qualifications decisions,
but it’s not exactly a sexy research area (just try to do a lit review
on the topic).

3) All of the above presumes that KSA statements are completed by the
applicant. A common complaint among hiring managers is that they get
applicants who were obviously coached on what to write in their KSA
statements. Not surprisingly, this is a common complaint among
applicants as well - that KSA statements are coached or the questions
are slanted to a particular candidate.

I am not saying this is what I would have done (agencies who have
flirted with résumé based hiring have had their won problems), but it
does address some common complaints regarding the federal hiring
process. I see our role as I/O psychologists and HR professionals is to
propose and promote best practices to maximize the reliability,
validity, fairness, and legal defensibility of the new processes.

Lorin Mueller, PhD, SPHR
Principal Research Scientist
American Institutes for Research

From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On
Behalf Of Bryan Baldwin [Bryan.Baldwin at doj.ca.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:31 AM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org; Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Job Qualifications

Not to sound overly cynical, but why does it seem like when
organizations use a valid selection method (e.g, behavioral consistency
T&Es) but implement it poorly (e.g., using said instrument for thousands
of applicants), the solution is to replace it with something much less
valid (e.g., resumes/applications, point-based T&Es)? Or is this just
one more example of the rush to make the selection process as fast as
possible, regardless of the impact on utility (supported by their
suggested, highly suspect, metric of time-to-fill)?

On a related point, how exactly do they intend to get managers and
supervisors "more fully involved in the hiring process, including
planning current and future workforce requirements, identifying the
skills required for the job, and engaging actively in the recruitment
and, when applicable, the interviewing process"? I mean more power to
them, but I gotta think this is something many of have been struggling
with for years.

Kudos for trying to modernize the federal hiring system, but I wonder
if there is an appreciation for the enormity of what is being suggested
and the resources it will require.

End rant.

Bryan Baldwin
Staff Services Manager II
California Department of Justice
Division of Administrative Support
Personnel Programs
(916) 322-5446

>>> Mark Hammer <Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca> 05/12/10 6:16 AM >>>


Here is the link to the White House memorandum -
Makes for interesting reading.


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