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When recruitment interview scores don’t add up

The accuracy of each candidate’s final result will depend on how you “weight” your selection criteria

Numerical rating scales are an effective way to score a candidate’s interview or other assessment performance and quickly calculate their standing against other candidates. But the accuracy of each candidate’s final result will depend on how you “weight” your selection criteria.

One way of arriving at accurate and objective recruitment decisions involves gauging a candidate’s capability or potential against a job’s selection criteria and applying a numerical rating to their interview or other assessment performance.

Whether you use a 1-5, 1-7 or 1-10 rating scale, the task of determining the highest ranked candidate becomes that much easier when you are able to add or average each candidate’s scores to obtain a picture of their overall performance.

Problems can occur when candidates scoring poorly on essential criteria but very well on less important criteria achieve a greater total score and end up being ranked above more suitable candidates.

This type of problem signifies that each selection criterion should have a different value depending on its relative importance in the execution of a job. It is the process of “weighting” selection criteria to reflect their relative value that allows rating scores to be added or averaged without distorting the final outcome.

Unfortunately, most decisions about the “weight” to apply to each selection criterion tend to be a matter of guesswork, which ultimately detracts from their accuracy and defensibility.

What to consider when weighting selection criteria

Research shows that there are four key areas to explore when determining the value of each selection criterion. These include:

Relative Importance – Decision-makers familiar with the inputs and outputs of a role, the environment in which it operates and its current context should be able to determine which selection criteria will contribute most to successful job performance. The highest priority or weight would naturally go to the most important criteria.

Consequence of Failure – Decision-makers may also determine how damaging failure from incompetent or delinquent behaviour would be in relation to each selection criterion. The consequences of failure may take into account such things as injury to people, damage to property or equipment, disruption to colleagues or other work areas, customer dissatisfaction, diminished brand perception, legal liability, and so on.

Time Spent in Performance – The time spent engaged in the activities associated with a particular selection criterion will also indicate its value. Of course, time spent in performance should be calculated as a function of a selection criterion’s Relative Importance and Consequence of Failure so that the time spent on critical tasks or demonstrating important behaviours is weighted more heavily.

Time to Achieve Competence – For some selection criteria there will be a period of orientation and gaining of job specific knowledge, skill and experience that contributes to a person’s eventual effectiveness in a role (e.g. familiarisation with culture, customers, products or services, technology, procedures, etc.).

Due to the organisation’s greater investment and exposure to risk, a selection criterion will be more important the longer it takes a typical person to become competent on-the-job. Once again, this figure should be calculated as a function of a selection criterion’s Relative Importance and Consequence of Failure so that time spent developing competence in important areas is given greater weight.

How to calculate selection criteria weights

Designed by organisational psychologists, a free online calculator located here will simplify the task of weighting your selection criteria.

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