[IPAC-List] Mistakes in selection

Dennis Doverspike dennisdoverspike at gmail.com
Sun Aug 7 10:31:57 EDT 2011

And speaking of hiring mistakes. Of course the public relations problem for
the public sector is not only why were these individuals hired, but why cant
we get rid of them.

The whole article is at:


First few lines:

The MBTA has been forced to rehire seven drivers and other key employees
after they were fired for offenses ranging from dozing at the wheel due to
drug use, child rape, and assaulting and making bizarre threats of violence
against co-workers — after bureaucratic arbitrators overturned their
dismissals on technicalities, a Herald review has found.

If you are in the public sector, how do you explain this type of result at a
time when the public sector is under attack.

Dennis Doverspike

On Sat, Aug 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM, Mark Hammer <Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca>wrote:

> I was responding to a thread on another site, and it occurred to me that

> I've never seen any research on "mistakes" in selection that examnes

> such mistakes as subject matter. We discuss tests and other tools here

> under the presumption that mistakes in selection are more likely when

> suitable validated tools are not used or used properly, but I don't

> think we look at those mistakes themselves very closely.


> And by "mistake", I don't mean someone who is simply not as strong a

> performer as you'd hope for, but someone that makes you regret not

> hiring a different person. What sorts of clusters are there? (e.g.,

> nutbar/trouble? all hat no cattle? s**t disturber? not a team player?

> not really interested in THIS job?) Does category of hiring mistake

> made show any systematic relationship to kinds of tests/tools used, or

> *not* used? What role do interviews play in generating or catching

> mistakes? What role do referrals play? (a good friend received a strong

> reference for someone from a trusted source in a similar high-powered

> job to his, and the referral turned out to be a nightmare)


> How do managers come to the realization that they've made a hiring

> mistake? What How long does it take them to decide that, what tips

> them off, and how do they respond?


> Now, as fascinating as all that might be, and as excited as I am

> thinking about it, I'll be the first to admit that there are some

> serious confounds to untangle. Performance is easily confounded with

> disengagement, and disengagement can be precipitated by actions of the

> very manager who decides that hire was a mistake. There are also

> mistakes that are out of the manager's control for the most part. So a

> manager might be told "You must select from this recruitment pool", and

> find the validly-assessed people in the pool are a poor fit for the

> particular role and position they have to offer. I know my wife's

> micro-agency has but 46 or so positions, including the CEO and

> receptionist, so folks interested in upward mobility tend not to stick

> around very long. Obviously few policies would permit the hiring

> manager to ask point blank "Are you REALLY serious about sticking

> around, or are you basically passing through?"


> But, failing all those sticky issues, I think there is something to

> this. Has somebody already started looking at it?

> Finally, I have to once again thank Ilene Gast for introducing me to the

> phrase "30 year mistake" some time back (I believe it was SIOP 2000 in

> New Orleans). We've all seen them. I want to know how they got there,

> and how we recognize them.


> Mark Hammer

> Ottawa


> >

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Dennis Doverspike, PhD., ABPP
Licensed Psychologist, #3539 (OHIO)
Independent Consultant
Professor of Psychology, University of Akron
dennisdoverspike at gmail.com

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