[IPAC-List] More curiosities about managerial selection strategies

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Mon Aug 30 12:53:48 EDT 2010

I've posted a number of observations coming from our survey of managers
and candidates over the last couple of years. Here's another.

Under the Canadian Public Service Employment Act, managers can select
from among qualified candidates without being obliged to use top-down
(although some still like to, and the law permits it). To be
"qualified", the candidate must meet or exceed all of the "essential
qualifications" for the position. Above and beyond the essential
qualifications, the merit criteria can include:

asset qualifications: things that would be useful to the work unit or
aid in completion of the work but are not essential to the specific

organizational needs: this can include things like diversity
objectives, but extends well beyond them.

operational requirements: this can include things like willingness to
travel, able to work shifts.

Thinking about it while chatting with a colleague today, I reasoned
that managers wold be more likely to turn to these things when the
number of qualified candidates exceeds the number of positions
available. In other words, the more difficult the choice, the greater
the motivation to turn to factors beyond just those things coming from a
test, T&E screen, etc.

We asked managers how many positions they were trying to fill and how
many qualified candidates they had at the end of the process. So I
calculated the ratio of qualified candidates to positions, and looked at
the mean ratio by their scale ratings for the importance of each of the
non-essential criteria.


As the rated importance of asset qualifications went from "not at all"
to "to some extent" to "To a great extent", the ratio of qualified
candidates to available positions went from 2.45, to 3.15, to 3.30. The
relationship was not quite as linear for the other two factors, but in
each case the ratio of qualified people to positions was lowest when
managers said that factor didn't have any importance in their selection

So, as "making the pick" became harder (indexed by how big a
search-space they had), managers indicated turning to other factors
beyond the essentials for the job.

Of course, this may well be why some managers, even when they have the
latitude to do otherwise, still like to go top-down. It effectively
absolves them of the responsibility of having to, first, of all,
identify what else to consider (which not all managers may have
necessarily done in every case), and weight the importance of those
additional factors (which can be tricky).

Neat! I just loooooove data!

Today's tidbit brought to you by...

Mark Hammer


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