Recruitment and Branding

An organization’s selection process is necessarily linked to its recruitment strategy and approach. Both recruitment and selection are about placing people in jobs. A good recruitment strategy not only focuses on attracting people to the organization (and who will subsequently be assessed), but also increases the probability that applicants will accept job offers when made (Chapman, Uggerslev, Carroll, Piasentin & Jones, 2005). A selection process must necessarily support both the attraction and acceptance elements of an organization’s recruitment strategy. In much the same way as recruitment factors, such as prompt follow-up and reactions to site visits, are positively related to whether the applicant stays in the recruitment pool and ultimately decides to accept a job offer, the specific assessments used in the process can have a large impact. It is here that simulations can play a significant role compared to traditional assessments.

Realistic job previews

Realistic job previews (RJPs) have long been an important part of many recruitment strategies (Wanous, 1992). In an RJP, the applicant is provided with information about both the positive and negative aspects of an organization and the specific position or role. The underlying idea is that by providing the applicant with a comprehensive picture of the job the dissonance that can occur as a result of differences between the applicant’s expectations and the actual job once employed is mitigated. For example, it is important that an applicant for an airline manufacturing position not only sees how the work results in a completed airline at the cutting edge of the aerospace industry, but also that the successful applicant will be required to climb into tight and confined fuel cells as a regular part of the job. RJPs have been shown to have some impact on important bottom-line organizational metrics, such as reductions in turnover and increases in job satisfaction, but the size of these effects is usually only small to moderate (Earnest, Allen & Landis, 2011; Meglino, Ravlin & DeNisi, 2000; Phillips, 1998; Wanous, Poland, Premack & Davis, 1992). Despite these results, it is largely accepted that it is important to provide applicants with a realistic picture of the job (Breaugh, 2008; Buckley, Fedor, Carraher, Frink & Marvin, 1997) and that this preview provides applicants with the information they need to make an informed decision to self-select into (or out of) the job opportunity, based on a real or perceived match of skills, abilities, interests and preferences.

There is an increasing understanding that RJPs should be included throughout the recruitment process rather than at one point in time, such as in a recruitment video (Rynes & Cable, 2003). This includes the assessments used to evaluate applicants for positions. In comparison to other selection methods (e.g., measures of cognitive ability and personality), simulations have the unique ability to contribute to the RJP, allow for self-selection and self-suitability assessment, and result in a better job fit (Downs, Farr & Colbeck, 1978; U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 2009). They offer the applicant the opportunity to engage in job activities, either behaviourally or verbally, that present real-life activities and challenges that may be encountered on the job. At the high end of the fidelity spectrum, simulations can be seen as job tryouts under structured testing conditions. Regardless of their fidelity, simulations present a unique opportunity for applicants to learn about the position, assess the person-job fit and better determine if they are well suited to the position because they mimic job requirements. Additionally, organizations are increasingly embedding traditional RJP content, such as videos about organizational values or employee testimonials, as part of the actual assessment process.

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