Challenges in recruitment and selection practices

Recruiting, selection and hiring of employees is the most important job of a Human Resource person. Cooper, et al, (2003) it cannot be blunder that the success of any firm depends on the quality of human resources and talents in the firm. The quality of the organization’s products and services will suffer if unsuitable people are employed. In the CIPD view point it believes that effective recruitment is central and crucial to the success of day -to-day functioning of any organization. The success of recruitment depends upon finding the people with the right skills, qualification and expertise to deliver organization objectives and the ability to make a positive contribution to the values and aims of the organization (CIPD, 2009).

According to Budhwar and Debrah (2004) multinational companies (MNCs) and some small firms in Nigeria face some challenges in the recruitment and selection practices. While the small firm resolves to fill the vacancies in their establishment with friends and relatives, the MNCs spend time and money screening large number of application in response to an advertisement in the media. Briggs, (2007) identified some of the problem affecting recruitment and selection in Nigeria federal civil service, such factors as, the increasing pressure for employment, utilization of informal sources of recruitment, federal character principle, , delegation of recruitment function, long military period of government. Briggs, (2007) these problems have resulted to inadequate use of job description and standard employee requirement in the process of recruitment. Budhwar and Debrah (2004) also the falling educational standard in Nigeria has caused companies to be fine-tuning, and some times over hauling their recruitment and selection procedures, conducting a variety of aptitude and psychometric tests during the selection process.

Budwar and Debrah (2004) in Nigeria, power and authority at the organizational level are significantly shaped by cultural respect for elderly persons as the elderly person is perceived more experienced than the younger person, and is preferred to be the boss, thus it becomes challenging in decision making for leadership in organizations if better qualified and highly motivated but young people are promoted to higher levels of responsibility. Palmer, (1997) argues that the government after establishing the necessary frame work for the management of strategic organization, violets the same rule it has made to regulate social relations at work sometimes through irregular employment, and also through political interference from political office holders, thus quota system as instrument of employment is questionable as it sometimes serve as a cynosure for the recruitment of unqualified persons from certain parts of the country. The incompetence of these individuals, to a large extent has led to the inability of Strategic Organizations to accomplish their mission.

Nigerianization Policy declares that Nigerian individuals must be considered first for employment and training in any project executed by any operator or project promoter in Nigeria. Companies operating in the petroleum sectors are obliged to employ only Nigerians in junior or transitional roles, or any other subsequent grades chosen by such companies. () though there is a premeditated effort to improve indigenous participation in the industry, there are no strict sanctions for non-compliance with the provision of this section. In the old dispensation, the understudy clause was never complied with. There was criminal and fraudulent collusion of the agencies responsible for approving expatriate quota in order to circumvent and abuse the expatriate quota process. Except there are clearly designed framework to check the abuse, we might just have returned to the starting block.

Despite the aim of Nigerianization policy, some people perceive it differently. Omeje (2008) argues that Nigerianization is a decoy for capital accumulation and that is why it remains top on the agenda of the indigenous dominant classes. Ozobia, MD NIGERDOCK , ‘Nigerianization has not paid us, it went into some hands that couldn’t manage properly, who did not have the resources’. Leave the companies in the hands of managers whether they are Americans, British, French, It is a global village. Statism in Nigeria does not allow the full practice of Nigerianization. Obadere, (2010) the discriminatory employment practices in some states where non indigene corps members are not absorbed into the workforce upon completion of their service in their state of service.

Legge (1995) argues that the integration and internal regularity of human resource systems is very significant for organizational success. Thus he says that the selection and recruitment processes are the primary part of finding and identifying potential candidates. Success in securing appropriate and skilled employees sets upper limits on potential organizational performance, however good the management and development of that workforce. Heneman and Judge (2006), suggest that although costs need to be considered in appraising assessment methods, more consideration should be given to the fact that valid selection measures pay off and will return many times their cost. Batt, (2002) firms that are less selective or hire lower-skilled employees are likely to experience significant effects on productivity, while hiring a mismatched employee can result in poor performance and higher turnover rates.

The recruitment and selection experience can also impact on the likelihood that a candidate will accept a job offer and on their subsequent commitment to remaining in the organization. Appointment decisions are the most important ones a manager has to make; they affect the manager’s ability to achieve targets, the quality of services or products delivered to the customer and the well-being of the whole team.

Recruitment Process

Armstrong, (2006), recruitment and selection process should be to obtain at the minimum cost the number and quality of employees required to satisfy the human resources needs of the organization. Thus he identified the stages that the exercise takes to achieve the aim. Defining requirement, preparing job descriptions and specifications; deciding terms and conditions of employment, attracting candidates, reviewing and evaluating alternative sources of applicants inside and outside the organization, advertising, using agencies and consultants, selecting candidates by sifting applications, interviewing, preparing contracts of employment, etc.

Job Analysis

The first step of recruitment is to put forward a job analysis. Job analysis is conducted for the intention of preparing job description and job specification which assists the organization to hire the right and quality workforce into the organization (CIPD, 2009). Pilbeam and Corbridge (2006) Job analysis process generates information which is converted into tangible outputs of a job description and a person specification, i.e. what has to be done and who does it before recruiting for a new or existing position, it is important to invest time in gathering information about the nature of the job. This means thinking not only about the content (such as the tasks) making up the job, but also the job’s purpose, the outputs required by the job holder and how it fits into the organization’s structure. It is also important to consider the skills and personal attributes needed to perform the role effectively. This analysis involves convincing detailed description of tasks, determining the relationship of the job and examining the knowledge, qualifications or employment standards and requirements (Jain and Saakshi, 2005). Job analysis is conducted in several ways by HR professionals, including; observation, interviews with incumbents and supervisors, critical incident investigations, questionnaires (structured, open ended, or both) and gathering background information such as duty statements or classifications (Cascio and Aguinis, 2005).

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Job description

Job description is described as a concise deception of job’s, duties and requirements (Mader-Clark, 2008), a written description of a job and the types of duties it includes (Bohlander and Snell, 2009). Cushway (200) a written statement of the content of any particular job and derived from the analysis of that job. It can take many forms, but they are typically in at least four parts;

A job summary: An overview of the position, with a brief description of the most important functions. Job summery is what the applicants will read first, it is great places to sell the job to the applicant you want to attract and possibly to weed out those that would not be able to meet up your expectations.

Job Specification is a portion of job description that gives the qualification needed to perform the job satisfactorily. It is typically stated as: knowledge, skills and ability; education and experience; physical requirements and/ or working conditions (Mathis and Jackson, 2007). Job description is beneficial to both the employee and the employer. For the employee, job description can be used to help them to learn their job and also serve as a reminder of the result they want to achieve. From the employer standpoint, it can serve as a basis for minimizing the understanding that occur between the managers and their subordinates concerning job requirements and also establish management’s right to take corrective action when the duties covered by job description are not performed as required (Bohlander and Snell, 2009)

Person specification

Person specification describes the requirements a job holder needs to be able to perform the job satisfactorily. These includes; education and qualification, training and experience and attributes and qualities. Person specification describes the person that needed to do the job and can therefore form the basis for the selection of the most suitable person to fill the job.

Sources of Recruitment

In every organization, there are basically two sources of recruitment where applicants can be drawn. The sources are classified as either internal or external. The use of these sources depends upon the specific environment of the organization as well as the philosophy of operations (Briggs, 2007). Organizations use external or internal recruitment methods to get the best possible candidate in order to achieve their goals and objectives. Legge (1995) argues that the integration and internal consistency of human resource systems is very important for organizational success. Thus he says that the selection and recruitment processes are the prime part of finding and identifying prospective candidates. Jones et al, (2000) when internal source of recruitment is in use, the organization turns to the existing employees to open positions. The employees recruited internally are either seeking lateral moves or promotions. It is used as part of job rotation program as result of job redundancies in other parts of the organization, or temporary acting position (Compton et al, 2009).

The internal recruitment approach is cost saving and less expensive as there will be no need involving a recruitment agency, rather a message is simply placed in a company news letter or on the staff notice board, also efficiency gain is made because internal recruit are typically able to take up new posts much more quickly than people being brought in from outside. Another advantage of internal recruitment is that the manager knows the real potential of the candidate and will not make the mistake of recruiting an external candidate who is not motivated to contribute to the success of the company. Internal recruitment can also be seen as a progression in one’s career as the candidate who got promoted is progressing within the organization. Leopold (2002) internal recruiting serves as avenue for developing the employee in the organization as promoting them to a new area gives them a wide knowledge of various job or promotes them to a higher level in the same area. The approach is generally accepted to constitute good practice and is widely used in the UK’s public services (Torrington et al,). Despite the internal sources of recruitment, many organizations still rely on external sources. Reasons may be that there is limited pool of candidate internally and the system may not have suitable internal candidates.

When recruitment is conducted externally, the organization looks outside for potential applicants. External recruitment consists of advertisements in newspapers, through recruitment agencies, job centers, referrals or candidates who might have applied before. When a candidate is recruited outside the organization it could be beneficial to the organization as the candidate may bring with him an important skill or even new, fresh ideas which the organization might need. External recruitment is likely to be used especially for lower entry jobs in periods of expansion, and for positions whose specific requirements cannot be met by present employees within the organization. Jones et al,( 2000), work-ins by job hunters External recruitment can be very time-consuming and expensive. The success of organization in attracting appropriate potential employees depends partially on its selection and use of suitable advertising media and third party recruitment bodies.


Organizations take series of regular steps to process and select applicants for jobs. The size of the company, the job characteristics, the number of people needed, the use of electronic technology, and other factors cause variations on the basic process (Mathis and Jackson).

Leopold, (2002) selection is a process of choosing the appropriate candidates both capable and willing to fill the vacancy. Several methods of selection are used to identify then reduce the pool and to find the candidate most suited for that particular vacancy. Selecting candidates involves two main processes: short listing and assessing applicants to decide who should be offered the job (CIPD, 2009)

The various methods of selection are; ‘interviews, tests, assessment centre, job stimulation, references and other methods’ (Beardwell 2007). Organizations usually make use of one or several of these methods. Selection decision is discrimination decision in that the employer discriminates between applicants on the bases of suitability and ability, which should be based on the requirements of the job. A good selection requires a methodical approach to the problem of finding the suitable person for the job.

Before any selection method is applied, Pilbeam and Corbridge (2006) suggests that concept of validity, reliability and popularity should be introduced. The concept provide dimension for probing the potential and the limitations of different selection method. According to Heneman and Judge (2006), validity refers to the accuracy of measurement and accuracy of prediction, as reflected by the scores obtained from a measure. That is the strength of the relationship between a predictor and job performance; the degree to which we are measuring what we think we are measuring.

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Predictive validity is the ability of a measure to predict future job performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). Schmidt and Hunter (1998) pointed out that the most important element of any personnel assessment method is predictive validity, which is the ability to predict future job performance, job-related learning and other criteria. Validation is in practice a complex process and would require studies involving a large number of candidates in order to allow a correlation coefficient to be calculated in testing. It is difficult as it usually takes long time to conduct validity studies and it is also relates to the particular environment in which performance is carried out and may have different values for different sexes and different ethnic groups (Bratton and Gold, 2007). Low validity refers to validity in the range of about 0.00 to 0.15. Moderate validity corresponds to validity in the range of about 0.16 to 0.30 and high validity is 0.31 and above (Heneman & Judge, 2006).

Schmidt & Hunter (1998) explains that the predictive validity coefficient is directly proportional to the practical economic value which is also called utility of the assessment method. The research on personnel psychology conducted within 85years revealed that the validity of measures of 19 different selection methods are used in decision making on hiring, training and development assignments. However, some of these procedures work well and some do not work well. It is important to use predictors that are an accurate representation of the knowledge, skills and other abilities (KSAOs) to be measured. In order to assess the various screening and selection methods we must first understand the key concepts of validity, reliability and utility Determinants of Practical Value (Utility) of Selection Methods. Validity of a hiring model and the variability of job performance are the determinants of its practical value which is the utility Schmidt and Hunter, (1998). Furthermore, it says that at one extreme, if the variability is zero, then all applicants would have the same level of job performance if hired, so in this case the practical value or the utility of all selection procedures would be zero. However, at another extreme, if the performance variability is very large then it is important to hire the best performing applicants.

In contrary Schmidt and Hunter, (1998) and Brown, (1981), argues that in utility analysis, even tests with low validity can have a major impact on productivity. The new development, Brown (1981), suggests that small differences in validity coefficients means major differences in productivity gains from the use of selection tools. Variations in recruitment and selection practice are bound by the law of the land. Assessments whether it is carried out with interviews, behavioural observations, physiological measures or tests had to be meaningful, reliable and valid. However, the fact that a test is intended to measure a particular attribute is in no way a guarantee that it does accomplish this goal.

Selection Method and Processes

Attracting Applicants

Organization having established the criteria for recruiting the kind of person the organization is looking for; the first stage is to generate interests from people (CIPD, 2009), finding someone who meets these criteria. Obviously it must be made known to people that a vacancy exists. It can be done externally or internally. There are varieties of methods of publicizing. Cooper et al (2003) the most frequent used method of attracting candidates has been advertising. These include placing advertisements in trade press, news papers, commercial job board, and on the organization’s websites. With the increase in the use of technology, organizations are looking at how they can build databases or pools of ‘ready’ candidates who they can draw on to slot into positions in the organization as they arise without re-advertising. Also some organizations have tapped into virtual world such as second life to engage candidates in a unique and powerful way, as found in the CIPD 2009 recruitment survey that 7% of respondents were using social networking sites as mechanism for targeting potential job seekers (CIPD, 2009).


Organizations usually use several different methods to assess job applicants. Applicants are usually asked to fill application form, send in copy of their resume and attend interview. One method that is becoming increasingly used is employee selection tests. These tests aim to provide a potential employer with an insight into whether you will be able to cope with the intellectual demands of the job and how well you work with other people. In this research work, selection interviews, test, assessment centers, reference and background analysis, job offer, physical examination, job offer and employment contracts, will be discussed.

The universally most common method of selection is interview which is described by Torrington (2002) as ‘a controlled conversation with a purpose’. Robertson and Smith (2001), interviews are the oldest. They consist of conservation with a purpose. It enables several important assessments to be made and can present information-gathering opportunity for both organization and applicants. As a frequently used selection technique; it is very unusual for people to be hired without an interview. Interviews may be either structured or unstructured (Roberts, 1997). An interview is designed to allow an interviewer or interviewing panel to use their own judgment to decide which of the applicants best fit the role.

Searle, (2003) discussed the two central theoretical perspectives that are taken regarding an interview: the objectivist psychometric and the subjectivist social-interactionist perspective. Each reveals the important but diverse component concerning the role of different parties, and considers the expectations and processes that comprise the interview in distinct ways. The objective psychometric one focuses on issues such as structure, reliability and validity, asks what qualities an interview can assess and how should the content and format of the interview be structured. It also asks what role reliability, validity and decision-making play in the interview format. The social perspective highlights the uniqueness of the exchange: it accentuates he process of interview and the patterns of the exchange. Attention is placed on the on the issue of impression management and asks questions about the power dynamics that take place during an interview.

Structured and Unstructured interview

Unstructured interviews are the most commonly used. It generally takes the form of free-ranging discussion with the interviewer a set of favourite questions but providing the interviewee with a free rein to answer in general way (Roberts, 1997). The interview has no pre-set topics. As such the interview can quickly degenerate into an uncontrolled, non-directive, often disorder process. It provides surrogate measurement of the candidate’s social skills at its best; more commonly it is a waste of time and effort by all the parties involved, and does not allow consistent means of comparing different candidates (Searle, 2003).

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Barclay (1997) would argue that interviews which are unstructured are poor predictors of employee performance or fit, with this author citing problems including, stereotyping of candidates; primacy effects; similarity effects; and negative information weighting bias. Given that unstructured interviews are not only the most common, but also reported as being far less effective than structured interviews, Roberts (2002) Edwards (1997) poses the question of whether to use ‘closed’ or ‘open’ questions when interviewing candidates, as the former can have limitations in terms of eliciting information, while the latter can be used to explore an issue from all angles.

Structured interview can cover a wide range of processes, found in focused interviews where the topics for discussion and potential answers are pre-set (Searle, 2003). Structured interview allows the interviewer to prepare job-related questions in advance and the complete the standardized interviewee evaluation form that provides documentation indicating why one applicant was selected over another (Mathis and Jackson, 2007). Roberts (2002) Structured interviews can be either ‘situational’ or ‘behavioral’. Situational interviews usually involve the candidate being asked to respond to hypothetical questioning involving work related issues. The response of the candidate is measured against the skills of the top performing employees in the organization, with skills such as communication skills, judgments, and emotional control being assessed. Huczynski and Buchanan (2007) in behavioral interviews, the interviewer uses the candidates past employment experiences as a guide to how they will perform in the future. The candidates are asked to describe a problem from work and how they overcame it, and assessed on their response.

Selection interviews for some reason are often viewed as a general measuring device. Gatewood, et al (2007) argue that some often- found deficiencies in the interview can be attributed to misconceptions about its use in selection, following their examination that indicates that it is not appropriate to use a significant portion of selection interview for attracting applicants providing detailed employment information and development the company image, this does not mean that the activities are not important, but saying that spending significant portion of time on the activities first and second round screening interview limits the effectiveness of the device in its primary purpose, evaluating the characteristics of applicants.

Selection Tests

Psychometric Test Psychometrics is the systematic testing, measurement and assessment of intelligence, aptitudes and personality. Candidates can be tested on either ability or personality through a process of completing questionnaires, numerical tests or statements where the candidate agrees or disagrees. Roberts (2000) this method differs from the others in that it is a very formal way of building an employee profile with little or no and unlike the interview approach, it uses a measurement scale to calculate a personality type.

Assessment Centre

Assessment centers are another method of choosing employees. This method is used by HRM to evaluate and develop personnel in terms of attributes or abilities relevant to organizational effectiveness (Thornton & Rupp, 2005). These centers usually assess the applicants over one to three days. Assessment Centers use a variety of tailor made methods that fit with the employing organization, such as team building exercises, ability tests, interviews and exercises. Applicants for a post will undergo a variety of techniques. This method is used to generate information about the ability to work under stress, preferred work styles, ability to make quick and accurate numerical estimates, characteristic behaviour when working with others and experience and aptitude for a customer service role. The candidates are assessed by assessor who is trained to judge candidates’ performance against criteria contained within the competency structure used (Bratton and Gold, 2007).

References and Background Check

References are used for the purpose of obtaining information about a candidate’s employment history, qualifications, experience and/ or a candidate’s suitability I for the post in question (CIPD, 2010). Armstrong (2003) the purpose of references is to obtain in confidence, factual information about a prospective employee and opinions about his or her character. It is necessary to confirm the nature of the previous job, period of time of employment and the reason for leaving, the salary rate of pay and, possibly, the attendance record. There are some variations in the timing of references, some employers chose to take up references for candidates at one of the stages in the selection process, some take up reference when they have decided to select a candidate, but before an offer is made and, some when they have already made the offer (Roberts, 1997). Background check is done when the interviewer is satisfied that the applicant is potentially qualified, the information about the previous employment as well as other information provided by the applicant is investigated (Bohlander and Snell, 2009).

Job offer

When the steps in the selection process are completed, the available information provided by the applicant is reviewed before making decision. The job offer is to welcome an employee to the company, congratulate the individual and provide details about the work condition, the rate of pay, time and location, where they are expected to report to report to work and who contact with additional questions (Smith and Mazin, 2004).Job offer does not mean that the applicant has accepted the offer.

Chapter Summery

This chapter is the overview of this research literature. It explains the concept of recruitment and selection as perceived by various writers. The stages and steps of the recruitment and selection are identified. The people (employees) are the best asset of the organization and therefore determine the success of achieving the organization’s goals and objectives. The chapter also identified the need for the recruiter, before any selection method is applied, to introduce the concept of validity, reliability and popularity as different job may require different selection methods. Job analysis, job specifications and person specification, are crucial to attracting the right applicants. In addition the chapter discussed the Challenges in recruitment and selection and its implications. The questions that should be in every recruiter’s mind while sourcing for talents should be, can these candidates deliver? What are their strengths and competencies? Can they pursue the firm’s vision? Can they be trained? What values are they bringing into the organization? What are their missions? Are they coming to use the firm as a learning ground and move on with their career somewhere else? Can they fit into the succession plan of the company? etc. Answers to these questions are the reason why recruitment and selection seem to be a laborious task.

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