Psychological Bulletin 1998, Vol. 124, No. 2, 262-274
Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0033-2909/98/S3.00
The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings Frank L. Schmidt University of Iowa
John E. Hunter Michigan State University
This article summarizes the practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research in personnel selection. On the basis of meta-analytic findings, this article presents the validity of 19 selection procedures for predicting job performance and training performance and the validity of paired combinations of general mental ability (GMA) and Ihe 18 other selection procedures. Overall, the 3 combinations with the highest multivariate validity and utility for job performance were GMA plus a work sample test (mean validity of .63), GMA plus an integrity test (mean validity of .65), and GMA plus a structured interview (mean validity of .63). A further advantage of the latter 2 combinations is that they can be used for both entry level selection and selection of experienced employees. The practical utility implications of these summary findings are substantial. The implications of these research findings for the development of theories of job performance are discussed.
From the point of view of practical value, the most important property of a personnel assessment method is predictive validity: the ability to predict future job performance, job-related learning (such as amount of learning in training and development programs), and other criteria. The predictive validity coefficient is directly proportional to the practical economic value (utility) of the assessment method (Brogden, 1949; Schmidt, Hunter, McKenzie, & Muldrow, 1979). Use of hiring methods with increased predictive validity leads to substantial increases in employee performance as measured in percentage increases in output, increased monetary value of output, and increased learning of job-related skills (Hunter, Schmidt, & Judiesch, 1990). Today, the validity of different personnel measures can be determined with the aid of 85 years of research. The most wellknown conclusion from this research is that for hiring employees without previous experience in the job the most valid predictor of future performance and learning is general mental ability ([GMA], i.e., intelligence or general cognitive ability; Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Ree & Earles, 1992). GMA can be measured using commercially available tests. However, many other measures can also contribute to the overall validity of the selection process. These include, for example, measures of
conscientiousness and personal integrity, structured employment interviews, and (for experienced workers) job knowledge and work sample tests. On the basis of meta-analytic findings, this article examines and summarizes what 85 years of research in personnel psychology has revealed about the validity of measures of 19 different selection methods that can be used in making decisions about hiring, training, and developmental assignments. In this sense, this article is an expansion and updating of Hunter and Hunter (1984). In addition, this article examines how well certain combinations of these methods work. These 19 procedures do not all work equally well; the research evidence indicates that some work very well and some work very poorly. Measures of GMA work very well, for example, and graphology does not work at all. The cumulative findings show that the research knowledge now available makes it possible for employers today to substantially increase the productivity, output, and learning ability of their workforces by using procedures that work well and by avoiding those that do not. Finally, we look at the implications of these research findings for the development of theories of job performance.
Determinants of Practical Value (Utility) of Selection Methods...
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