Recruitment And Selection Introduction HR Management

The importance of ensuring the selection of the right people to join the workforce has become increasingly apparent as the emphasis on people as the prime source of competitive advantage has grown. Beaumont (1993) identifies three key issues that have increased the potential importance of the selection decision to organisations. First, demographic trends and changes in the labour market have led to a more diverse workforce, which has placed increasing pressure on the notion of fairness in selection.

Second, the desire for a multi-skilled, flexible workforce and an increased emphasis on team working has meant that selection decisions are concerned more with behaviour and attitudes than with matching individuals to immediate job requirements. And third, the emphasis between corporate strategy and people management has led to the notion of strategic selection: that is, a system that links selection processes and outcomes to organizational goals and aims to match the flow of people to emerging business strategies.

Selective hiring (i.e. the use of sophisticated techniques to ensure selection of the ‘right’ people) is frequently included in the ‘bundles’ of best HR practice (see, for example, Pfeffer, 1998). The contribution of effective recruitment and selection to enhanced business performance is also illustrated by the findings of empirical studies.

For example, a study into small and medium-sized manufacturing establishments (Patterson et al., 1997) found the acquisition and development of employee skills through the use of sophisticated selection, induction, training and appraisals to have a positive impact on company productivity and profitability. Thus the practice of recruitment and selection is increasingly important from an HRM perspective.

At the same time, however, many of the traditional methods of recruitment and selection are being challenged by the need for organisations to address the increased complexity, greater ambiguity and rapid pace of change in the contemporary environment. This chapter, therefore, discusses key contemporary approaches to recruitment and selection, and examines the influence of external and internal factors on the process. After clarifying what we mean by recruitment and selection, we begin by describing the external context in which recruitment and selection occur, including government policy and legislation.

Next, we turn our attention to the internal organisational context in order to examine factors that might account for variations in recruitment and selection practice. We then explore the systematic approach to recruitment and selection, and discuss recent developments at each stage of the process. In the final section we emphasise the two-way nature of recruitment and selection, and consider ethical issues in the treatment of individuals. The chapter concludes with a summary and a number of self-test exercises.

  • Definitions

The recruitment and selection process is concerned with identifying, attracting and choosing suitable people to meet an organisation’s human resource requirements. They are integrated activities, and ‘where recruitment stops and selection begins is a moot point’(Anderson, 1994). Nevertheless, it is useful to try to differentiate between the two areas: Whitehill (1991) describes the recruitment process as a positive one, ‘building a roster of potentially qualified applicants’, as opposed to the ‘negative’ process of selection.

So a useful definition of recruitment is ‘searching for and obtaining potential job candidates in sufficient numbers and quality so that the organisation can select the most appropriate people to fill its job needs’(Dowling and Schuler, 1990); whereas selection is concerned more with ‘predicting which candidates will make the most appropriate contribution to the organisation – now and in the future’(Hackett, 1991).


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