Designing Recruitment Processes & Personnel-Selection Systems

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  • 0:00 The Psychology of Recruitment
  • 1:29 Recruitment
  • 2:51 Selection
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

Picking the right employee can not be a guessing game. Industrial-organizational psychologists help organizations determine the best recruitment and selection processes. In this lesson we will discuss these systems.

The Psychology of Recruitment

Recruiting the best talent goes far beyond picking the best resume, or selecting the best interviewee. A candidate could have all the boxes checked but not meet key personality or psychology tests. How are you possibly supposed to pick the right person? It is the role of industrial-organizational psychologists to help understand the psychology of recruitment and guide procedures to get the right person in a company.

An industrial-organizational psychologist (I-O psychologist) is a professional who applies psychology to the workplace. An I-O psychologist wants to make sure that the workplace is the best it can be. You will find I-O psychologists in consulting firms, leadership groups, and even within companies and universities.

I-O psychologists employ evidence-based practice in their work. That is, they consult research and literature that demonstrates the effectiveness of a certain task.

For example, if a hiring manager insists that he knows the perfect candidate based solely on an unstructured interview, the I-O psychologist could refer him to a body of research that indicates the structured interview has the most success. We'll get more into how the evidence-based approach works in selection.

Now that we know who they are, we must ask what would an I-O do? An I-O psychologist can help guide two of the key phases of bringing talent into an organization: recruitment and selection.


Recruitment is really a broad set of actions that companies use to attract employees to their organization. These days, employees have many career options and many companies to choose from. Long gone are the days when employees beat a path to your door.

The following components are part of a recruitment strategy:

  • Generate job announcements on strategic websites.
  • Place targeted advertisements: Don't advertise a welding job in an IT journal!
  • Define the qualifications for the job.
  • Screen out unqualified folks right away.

It is the role of an I-O psychologist to help design and develop these materials. They should not only make sure they work, but they are attracting the right kinds of employees!

Research shows that recruitment materials must have the following features in order to appeal to potential talent:

  • Informative: Tell all you can about the organization/job
  • Distinct and vivid: Make them stand out!
  • Personalize content: Make a connection to the candidate as a person - e.g., Join our Team.

The last bullet is important, as I-O psychologists have shown us that potential employees react better to a personalized approach. You are not looking for specific qualifications of x, y, and z, but you want individuals to bring their game, experiences, and knowledge to the company.

Now that we see how the field of industrial and organizational psychology informs recruitment, let's see how it helps us in the next step: Selection.


We have a nice pool of candidates, but whom should we hire? The one with the flashiest resume? The most experience? The smoothest talker? Thankfully, I-O psychologists can guide us here as well. Common selection tools include interviews, ability and knowledge tests, collection of biographical data, and work samples.


If we look at the current best evidence, the structured interview is an effective tool to select candidates. Behavioral interviews are also used, because they ask the candidate to describe their past experience in solving problems.

Collection of Biographical Data

If you thought your Facebook feed was safe from prospective employers, think again. Everything you put into the public domain can be accessed by anyone, including I-O psychologists!

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