[IPAC-List] Candidate Reduction Strategies

Lance Seberhagen sebe at erols.com
Mon Mar 12 15:43:22 EDT 2012

Hi Adele:

The best way to reduce the number of applicants to be tested is to use
random selection. For example, assume 3,000 people apply for the job,
and you want to administer the written test to a maximum of only 1,000
applicants. Here are the steps that I would recommend:

1. Screen the 3,000 applications for minimum qualifications to screen
out the obviously unfit applicants. (Most employers do this as part of
the online application process.) Let's say that 2,500 of the original
3,000 applicants pass this step.

2. Assign a unique code number in consecutive order (1-2,500) to each
of the remaining 2,500 applicants.

3. Use a random numbers generator (e.g., RANDBETWEEN in Excel) to list
the 2,500 numbers in random order.

4. Select the first 1,000 random numbers (applicants) to invite to the
written test. Place the remaining 1,500 random numbers (applicants) on
a waiting list, or discard them.

By definition, random selection gives each applicant the same
probability of being selected. Therefore, the method is objective,
fair, and nondiscriminatory, provided that you always assign code
numbers to applicants BEFORE you run the random numbers generator each
time. However, by definition, random selection also has zero validity
(or job-relatedness). Therefore, there could be an issue if Civil
Service Rules or an agency's Charter require all selection procedures to
be merit-based, but most agencies should be able justify random
selection for part of the selection process as long as the overall
process is based on merit.

Approximations of random selection (e.g., date of application, birth
date, Social Security Number, alphabetical order of last name) should
not be used because these methods have zero validity AND they may have
adverse impact due to hidden biases. Therefore, they could be
discriminatory. There is also the possibility of cronyism if applicants
are selected by date of application and "insiders" can give advance
notice of job opportunities to their friends and relatives.

Lance Seberhagen, Ph.D.
Seberhagen & Associates
9021 Trailridge Ct
Vienna, VA 22182
Tel 703-790-0796
www.seberhagen.com **

On 3/12/2012 11:16 AM, Demooy, Adele wrote:

> For economic reasons we are looking into ways to reduce the number of candidates who participate in exams. One option we are considering is accepting a predetermined number of applications based on statistics from previous exam administrations. I am interested in your feedback on this approach or learning about any other methods you are using.





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