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Title: Investigating the function of competency based application forms in the selection process : a theoretical and empirical analysis
Author: Price, Ruth Elizabeth
Awarding Body: City University, London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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Competency based application forms (CBAFs) have been used in employee selection for nearly forty years, yet relatively little research attention has been paid to them (Ash, Johnson, Levine & McDaniel, 1989; Brown & Campion, 1994; Levine & Flory, 1975; Robertson & Smith, 2001). This thesis explored a number of issues relating to the . function of CBAFs within the selection process, predominantly in regard to their role as a predictive selection method. The principle of behavioural consistency (Wernimont & Campbell, 1968) was invoked to provide a theoretical rationale for their potential ability to predict job performance, and the small body of supportive empirical evidence was reviewed (Lamsdale, Wood &MUlrooney, 1999; Patterson, Ferguson, Norfolk & Lane, 2005; Patterson, Norfolk, F~rguson & Lane, 2003). However, variations in organisational practice may make these findings difficult to generalise to all contexts where CBAFs are used. A theoretical case was built to suggest that both organisational and applicant processes surrounding the use of CBAFs could moderate their predictive validity. Accordingly, three fixed-design ~tuqies were conducted to empirically identify the existence of such artifacts. . First, a cross-sectional questionnaire survey showed that whilst 38% of UK organisations (N=675) were collecting information on competencies or skills required for the job, less than half of them used a job analysis to inform the construction of such forms, one quarter of recruiters were given no scoring gUidelines and there was little evidence of predictive validation studies. Second, a non-experimental comparative field study (N=194) suggested that CBAF answers were subject to impression management, with graduate job applicants scoring significantly higher impression management scale scores than job incumbents. Third, a quasi-experimental pre-test post-test design demonstrated that the type of rating scale used by assessors (N=30) influenced the amount of interrater convergence in CBAF judgements; the use of evaluative rating scales resulted in no ~cceptable convergence, whilst the use of descriptive rating scales did increase convergence for total CBAF score, although not for each of the individual questions. Combining the previous research findings (Patterson ef a/., 2005; Patterson ef al., 2003) with the results presented in t~is thesis, it is reasonable to conclude that CBAFs can function as' a predictive selection method if artifacts in the processes surrounding their use are limited, and suggestions for recruiters are given here. Coupled with recognition that CBAFs may also be a useful tool for legal defensibility, positive applicant reactions and pre-entry socialisation, CBAFs could play a more powerful role in the selection process than currently utilised by many recruiters. As such, CBAFs present many more avenues for research, to build upon the beginnings of the literature base presented here.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available