Personnel Selection – Bernardin's Chapter – Review Notes

Human resource management revision article series

Organizations are interested in selecting employees who will be effective, efficient, work for them as long as the organization wants them and who will not engage in counterproductive behavior such as violence, substance abuse, avoidable accidents, and employee theft.
Application blanks, reference and background checks, various forms of standardized testing, and some form of interview is a standard practice. Selection involves the gathering and assessing information about candidates willing to work in the organization and making the employment decision. The same process is followed for entry level external recruitment, higher level external recruitment, internal promotions, transfers and even job retention decision in case of downsizing efforts.

Selection methods need to have reliability, validity, and utility.

Reliability concerns the consistency of measurement.

Validity refers to the relation between the performance in the test and the performance on the job.

Utility is gain from using the method.

Information about the Applicant – Through Various Application Forms or Blanks

Application blanks ask candidates for a job to fill details of education, employment history and experience details during the employment.

Biographical information blanks (BIB) ask for more personal information with questions about personal background and life experiences.

Accomplishment record asks candidates to write examples of their accomplishments. Bernardin quotes the example that in the case of search for a new business school dean, applicants were asked to cite a fund-raising project they had successfully organized.

Background Checks and References

Bernardin has noted that research indicates that 20 to 25 percent of job applicants include at least one major fabrication. Hence background checks is a good practice.
References may not yield significant information as there were lawsuits on former employers for defamation of character etc. But companies are also being sued for not giving adequate information about a former employee when requested. Background checks should include police records also.
Bernardin recommends companies to develop letter of reference as a performance appraisal form and use it for both internal and external candidates. He advises companies to do their utmost to obtain accurate reference information despite difficulties as the company can avoid negligent hiring lawsuits.

Personnel testing

  • Cognitive ability test
  • Tests of specific ability
  • Personality/motivational testing
  • What personality?
  • How do we measure personality
  • Validity of personality tests
Cognitive ability tests measure one’s mental capacity to acquire knowledge based on the accumulation of learning from all possible sources till that time. Achievement tests are different and they measure the effects of knowledge obtained till that time. A final examination in a subject is an example of achievement test. Knowledge based tests assess a candidate on a sample of what is required on the job.

What is personality?
Personality refers to an individual’s consistent pattern of behavior. The consistent pattern is comprised of traits. The five big traits which are used to describe the personality of a person are:

1. Introversion/extroversion
2. Emotional stability
3. Agreeableness/ likability
4. Conscientiousness
5. Openness to experience

About various psychometric tests including ability tests   )

How to Establish a Psychological Testing Program

1. Study the manuals provided by test publishers.
2. Check the review of the test in Mental Measurements Yearbook.
3. Find out from the test publishers the users and interact with them and find out their experience.
4. Go through the test items and evaluate them for ethical, legal and privacy ramifications.

Evaluate the test like you evaluate other products. Don’t simply believe the brochure.

Assessment Center

Assessment centers use trained observers and a variety of techniques to make judgments about behavior, from specially developed assessment simulations. Assessment center focus on job dimensions.


  • Types of interviews
  • Structured interviews
  • Group/panel interviews
  • Situational or behavioral interviews

Sun Microsystesm interviews job applicants several times by as many as 20 interviewers

Presentation slides


Chapter Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to

Understand the concepts of reliability, validity, and utility.

Understand the validity evidence for various selection methods.

Discuss approaches to the more effective use for application blanks, reference checks, biographical data, and the interview in order to increase the validity and legal defensibility of each.

Discuss the approaches available for drug testing.

Describe the validity of different approaches to interviewing.

Explain how the various types of candidate information should be integrated and evaluated.

Updated on 3 September 2019, 14 December 2011