Increased competitive advantage and the rapidly changing global environment (Bach, 2005) are the two most important reasons for putting pressure on firms for their survival. It is these measures which make the organisation realise the need for strategic human resource planning.
Strategic human resource planning links human resource planning towards the strategic direction of the company (De Cenzo & Robbins, 1996) ensuring that the organisation’s continued growth is maintained by attracting and retaining people with high-calibre (Cooper, Robertson, & Tinline, 2003). This brings into the need for the right recruitment and selection policy and procedures to be in place.
But, ironically, it is still seen that many organisations still adopt wasteful approaches towards selections and most of the time vacancies get filled in an unplanned manner without a systematic job analysis keeping in mind whether specific jobs would be needed or not (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008). As poor selection decisions can have ruinous effects for the organisation ranging from cost factors to productivity, it is essential to recruit and select the right people.
These facts form the basis of my dissertation study exploring the recruitment and selection methods and problems within an organisation.
This proposal provides a brief outline about my intended research process. I begin by highlighting the significance of my research along with the objectives I tend to achieve. Secondly, I explain briefly about the literature review available on the recruitment and selection process. The methodology section will tell about the techniques I will adopt for the data collection and analysis. And the limitations that may be encountered during my study are covered in the final section.
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Rationale behind my study and its Significance
This research is informative and significant from the viewpoint that behavioural traits should be checked during the recruitment and selection process for the effectiveness of quality management making sure that both the technical and social systems so as to become difficult to imitate by competitors due to casual ambiguity and path dependency leading to sustaining organisational performance for a long time (Ahmad & Schroeder, 2002).
Also, an effective recruitment and selection strategy not only makes sure that the company achieves competitive advantage and success but it is also important because new recruits are a medium for amending organisational cultures as well as considered an opportunity for acquiring new skills by managers (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008).
In addition, a wrong selection can be expensive in relation to retrain poor performers and to recruit new employees in replacement of ones who quit and the ones who were wrongly selected. Also, this can lead to loss of potential clients along with redundancy packages. Therefore, lastly through this study the negative effects that wrong selection decisions can have will be brought into notice.
The research will be conducted in a multinational organisation whose “strategic goals are motivated by the desire to develop an efficient and integrated business on an international scale along and the group’s philosophy being to build well-defined, value-added businesses focusing on serving the needs of select market niches where it can compete effectively (About Us: Investec)”. All these point towards having a workforce which can effectively contribute in helping the company achieve its targets.
Therefore, the purpose of study is to explore the recruitment and selections methods adopted by the organisation to see the nature and the quality of people working in it and the efficiency of the current methods. The research basically addresses the following questions:
- Are the various recruitment and selection methods practiced by the organisations today as suggested by the literature really apt?
- Do the recruitment policies and procedures actually help in achieving the outcomes which are expected by the organisation?
- What are the factors (job and role specifications, recruitment media, selection techniques etc.) that affect the designing and implementation of the staffing process?
- Does cost, organisational resistance to change and national culture have an impact on the recruiting efforts?
- Can recommendations be suggested to improve the recruitment and selection process within an organisation?
Thought it may seem that recruitment and selection are similar terms due to their functions being complementary, this review discusses them separately along with the function of job analysis in the overall recruitment and selection process. Firstly, an overview of the process will be given considering its various stages, and discussing each stage separately with the pros and cons. In the end specific issues related to national culture and costs affecting recruiting efforts will be discussed.
2. Overview of the Recruitment and Selection Process
A recruitment and selection process is a method by which a company aims to satisfy its manpower needs at the minimum cost possible to ensure the effective continuing of the organisation’s operation. The main purpose of a recruitment and selection process is to study personality differences between individuals and the way it affects their ability to performance the subsequent job (Searle, 2003).
Defining requirements, attraction and recruitment, shortlisting and assessment or selection are the four stages of a recruitment and selection process (Armstrong, 2006).
Requirements mean preparation involving analysis of job to identify the needs along with what is involved already which results in job summary and person specifications as the outputs. Attraction is a medium to identify and evaluate sources of applicants keeping in mind that it is a two -way relationship with the firm deciding who to attract as well as the applicants decision making power whether to join the organisation (Taylor, 2005). Finally, the selection stage involves selecting the most suitable person(s) to fill the job from a pool of recruited good applicants (Cook, 2004).
2.1 Job Analysis
Job Analysis or Role analysis is the most important stage in recruitment and selection as it provides the information related to the job (work-oriented) along with the skills and traits a person (worker-oriented) should have to perform the job (Searle, 2003).
According to Pearn and Kandola (1993), Job analysis is simply defined as “…a systematic procedure for obtaining detailed and objective information about a job, task or role.” to provide job descriptions and data for recruitment, training needs, performance evaluation and management.
Job analysis can be done using a number of techniques ranging from focusing on the elements of work to being sensitive towards workers and their attributes. However, the main methods that are used are observation methods, interviews, and questionnaires and checklists.
Because of drawbacks associated with each method, it is argued that techniques be combined for a clear and proper person specification description (Cooper, Robertson, & Tinline, 2003). Also, there are issues of stability and accuracy concerned with job analysis, as a result of which there must be updating at all times. Also, job analysis is based on the assumption of one right way to perform the job instead of others, raising questions in regard of interrelationship between the worker and the organisation (Searle, 2003).
Job descriptions are the output of the job analysis concerned with a brief description about the job(s) to be taken up. Though they vary between organisations, generally the same categories are included: job title, location, responsible to whom and for what, main purpose of the job, principal job duties and any other duties.
A point worth noting is that, despite, these used widely, they are criticised for being irrelevant to modern times as they are lack flexibility and are just based on rules. The criticism being that workers see their task as being defined making them abide by the rules instead of encouraging them to perform and add value beyond those. As a result, job descriptions are seen to be replaced by accountability profiles which focus on outputs rather than the components of the process. Also, another strategy involves the use of role definitions and ‘key result area’ statements (KRAs) that refer to the measures for performance for the job (Armstrong and Marchington).
Selection Criteria/Person Specifications
This is the second documentation derived from job analysis. Person specifications are basically the human attributes required for filling up the role. Basically these specifications are based on certain heading following traditional seven point and five-point plans of Rodger (1952) and Fraser (1996) respectively. This forms the basis of selection criteria so as to reduce the number of applicants and in the end only have well-qualified candidates with the right requirements.
However, in today’s world competency frameworks relying on behaviour of applicants have replaced the earlier frameworks relying on personal judgement. This is because of the fact of reducing subjectivity in the recruitment and selection process and the tendency to judge personal qualities (Suff and Newell, 2006). Also, they can be related to performance outcome and stay clear of criteria that though may be easy to measure but may not relate to job effectiveness.
The next stage after job analysis is the recruitment stage. Recruitment refers to tapping potential candidates from a pool of candidates based on the right skills and qualifications after filtering through the job analysis technique.
It is important because it determines quality and quality of the applicants which in turn is necessary for the organisation’s overall financial performance and eventually its growth and success (Carlson, Connerley, & Mecham, 2002).
However, despite recruitment being the pre-requisite for selection to take place, it is still noteworthy that very little attention has been given to recruitment in theoretical underpinnings (Breaugh & Starke, 2000). Also, recruiting efforts might be faced with some constraints ranging from issues relating to whether to recruit or not, sources from where to recruit and at what cost to organisation’s image, attractiveness of the job, internal policies and legal influence.
Nevertheless, the different recruitment methods that can be adopted are advertising, use of employment agencies, internal recruitment, e-recruiting, on-campus recruiting and employee recommendations/referrals.
The effectiveness of each of these methods can be tested in terms of quantitative and qualitative analysis. The former takes into account various costs in relation to the number of applicants generated, neglecting the newcomer’s ability to perform. Whereas the latter is concerned with judging the best candidate testing the absenteeism, turnover, retention and attitude at work.
However, research has shown that informal methods (employee recommendations, internal search) are better and more effective that the formal methods of advertising and college placement.
It is seen that not all the persons have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience to perform a job. Hence, based on the criteria of Curriculum Vitae and Application forms applicants are reduced. This process of choosing candidates on the basis of their curriculum vitas (CVs)/application forms after the recruitment stage is known as ‘Shortlisting’.
The applicants fill up questionnaires about their personal details, education background, work experience, strengths and leisure activities. Judging upon these the HR specialists generate two categories of applicants: possible and rejected on the basis of having the required skills or not respectively, thereby, shortlisting the possible ones for the further stages of selection process serving as a path to the interview stage (Lewis, 1985).
However, this criteria of shortlisting suffers from drawbacks as poor application forms with limit space under headings can put off potential candidates due to they not being able to provide adequate information (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008) ultimately leading to artificial responses. Also, often applicants provide false information as seen by Poole and Warner (1998), “It was reported that 30 percent of applications contained false information.”
The final stage in the recruitment and selection process is that of selection. Selection is defined as a negative activity because of it choosing the best candidates and turning down others from a bunch to decide who is best-suited and fits the job most effectively.
The ‘classic trio’ comprising of application form, letter of reference and interview is the most prevalent selecting technique employed. This is due to it being straightforward and the least expensive of all the other methods. Also, other methods like assessment centres are not used due to them being the one with the highest validity which can deter the candidates from applying further.
The range of selection methods that can be used for filling the job position are interviews, references, assessment centres, psychometric tests, work samples and biodata.
However, no single selection method can predict with certainty that only a single individual will perform better in all situations. Hence, it is important to select the most appropriate technique. The Also, it is evident that most of the selection techniques have very low accuracy when it comes to effective selection decisions. Moreover, in order to know which tool to use, we need to know what is being measured and how well.
The above factors, therefore, bring into account the need for assessing the value of each method in terms of practicability, sensitivity, reliability and validity (Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008).
2.5 Specific issues: Costs and National Culture
There are certain specific issues (costs and national culture) which play an important role in determining which selection methods to be employed by an organisation for selection of the new personnel. The focus is on selection due to the lack of literature on these issues concerning recruitment techniques.
The choice of a selection method to be used depends a lot on its cost. An organisation’s HR managers aim to use selection methods scoring high on validity along with being cost-effective. However, a selection method generating employees of utmost importance can be still be practised even if it is costly owing to the fact that successful employee selection leading to better productivity and performance is the overall goal of the organisation which in turn can outweigh the cost effects.
National culture is basically defined as the values, customs, behaviour and attitudes a particular community, society or group tends to follow distinguishing them from other groups of different ethnicity.
Each organisation has a corporate culture which arises on the basis of values and rituals of the country in which it is operating. The employees working in the company are also influenced by society and hence it can be seen that the elements of national culture are to an extent embedded in the organisation culture (Sparrow & Hiltrop, 1994).
The selection method a company uses to select new candidates also depends a lot on the social environment as some methods may be acceptable in one country and not in the other due to cultural differences.
An outcome of a survey conducted by Ryan et al (1999) showed that uncertainty decision is the prime factor in influencing an organisation’s decisions in deciding which selection method to use. Therefore, it is seen that tests and interviews are the selecting methods used by countries which want less uncertainty, as these processes decrease uncertainty owing to the fixed questionnaire due to which the predictability of selecting the right person increases.
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This review showed a brief overview about the recruitment and selection process. However, the literature review on recruitment and selection methods were not discussed as they will be compared in my research with the methods being used in the organisation currently weighing each one’s pros and cons along with the problems faced by the organisation and recommendations will be given.
Designing the research
I will rely on the phenomenological qualitative methods for the collection and analysis of data taking into account the inductive approach, for my study (Saunders, Thornhill, & Lewis, 2006). This inductive approach will let me come out with the best possible answers for my research objectives due to it being able to explore better the behaviours and perceptions of people helping me get an overall insight into the research context in relation to an everyday life. Furthermore, as I am concerned only with a single organisation, I will be following the case-study approach. The reason behind my choosing a single firm is the fact that this will help me focus on my research leading to getting a deep understanding of the policy and procedures related to recruitment and selection with the firm.
Data collection method
Gathering of data will take place using semi-structured interviews along with open-ended questionnaires. The interviews would be held within the workplace with about 15 employees with most of them being the senior HR mangers as they are the ones responsible for the recruitment process taking the view concerned with the organisational decision-making in selection procedures. In contrast to this, if possible, I will also try and gain an insight into the candidates reactions to selection methods in order to take the applicant’s perspectives in the decision making process. This will be done through the use of questionnaires if not interviews with the applicants applying to the company.
The reason behind using semi-structured interviews is that they have a personal contact and will help the interviewees to express their feelings, concerns and opinions with ease of freedom without the fear of being cut in between letting them further frame their responses. This will ensure a collection of detailed and ampler data set.
All the interviews will be tape recorded so as to fill in any gaps which might have been left during the interview and transcribed for analysis. However to protect confidentiality, these will be recorded only after a written signatory permission from the respondents.
I plan to adopt the template analysis approach for my analysis in which a “researcher generates a list of codes or templates in order to represent themes identified in the textual data (King, 2004)”. This will basically provide a key summary of my findings along with a flexibility level to change themes with the course of analysis. Also, this approach will be very useful in comparing differences in the perspectives of different groups of staff.
Depending on the research objectives, an initial template will be created with the gathered data being coded into broad themes which will further be broken down into specific patterns as the analysis progresses. In the end, the final template will seek to explain all the research questions in addition to any new findings emerging out of the research.
There are a number of limitations the research might be subjected to. Firstly, since the research will take place in a single organisation, issues regarding reliability and validity of the data for suitability within other firms may arise. This raises the question about the generalisation of the research findings beyond the parent organisation. However, this should make the research less sound owing to evolving businesses and to the nature of all human beings to perceive things differently.
Secondly, time constraints might be another issue. The time available to do a thorough research isn’t enough as it requires a lot of travel too. Moreover, since I can just conduct my research in the organisation for a maximum of a month, this may result in collection of irrelevant or inadequate data at times due to a hurried collection process.
In addition to all these limitations other problems may arise as well. The employees of the organisation might be hesitant in giving interviews at workplace because of the fear of job-cuts due to recession. Hence, in this scenario I will try my best to conduct interviews be it in the form of telephonic interviews.
Moreover, it might be possible not to carry out face to face interviews at times as some of the managers might not be available. Also, there is no guarantee to finish all the interviews within the specified time period. Another possibility might be that due to sensitivity issues regarding me being an outsider, the company may be reluctant in providing all the required information for my research.
A final limitation might be about the arrangement for access into the organisation falling short. Though, I do not think that the multinational organisation would deny me access but, if such a thing happens, I have a back-up plan with an access to another organisation which will surely give me an access. This firm is an IT firm in India and has guaranteed to give me an access.
Despite these problems likely to arise during my course of research, I am sure I will be able to handle and tackle them effectively. I am also confident to be able to achieve answers to my research objectives completing my research successfully.
About Us: Investec. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2010, from Investec: http://www.investec.com/en_gb/#home.html
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