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Staff selection

Staff selection

Staff selection plays an important role in modern staff management. The idea is to find the most suitable applicant, female or male, for future duties. This process begins with an analysis of the job’s requirements and ends with the decision concerning the appointment. Here, requirements profiles, such as have for instance been developed by the German Pension Insurance Scheme [German link] have proved to be especially suitable. Job profiles prevent the selection decision being primarily based on who did the job previously.

Legal framework
There is a legal framework governing the equal treatment of all persons in staff selection procedures. Selection decisions must be based by law on non-discriminatory selection criteria. EU Directive 2002/73/EC and Sec. 611a of the German Civil Code [German link] ban direct and indirect discrimination in the formation of employment relationships. In the German Works Constitution Act, Sec. 80 paragraph 1 sentence 2 a and Sec. 68 paragraph 1 sentence 5 a [German links], works council and/or staff representative body are required to promote actual equal treatment between women and men. The ministries, offices and departments of the federal government administration should see to it, under Sec. 7 of the Federal Equal Treatment Act [German link] that the selection committee is composed equally of women and men.

Requirements profile
These legal requirements often present a challenge in practice. Studies show that the gender and personal characteristics of the previous occupant of a position has a crucial influence on our ideas about who would be ideal to fill it. The image of the person overlays the job profile. There is a discernible tendency to regard a person with similar characteristics and the same sex as being the “ideal applicant”.
This can be countered by making a detailed review of gender neutral requirement profiles on the basis of concrete tasks assigned to the job. In such profiles, which in the best case would be available for all jobs within the organisation, the competences required (qualifications and abilities) for performing the duties are defined. The basis for this classification is as a rule a list of competences including the core competences in the organization. Such requirements profiles form an important building block for modern and transparent staff management. They are not only the basis for selection procedures, but can also serve as the basis for performance evaluation.

Selection criteria
Staff selection is frequently based on stereotyped attributions of characteristics or persons, which then “fit” into the subjective preconceptions of superiors. This does not produce optimal appointments decisions, as aspects that are irrelevant to the job are thus sneaked into the assessment. Women are often classified as “nice”, but unable to assert themselves (i.e. “too nice”), and men are frequently assessed as “friendly” but nonetheless assertive (i.e. “nice enough”). Positive assessments can also be based on shared interests that often have no bearing on the job, or on similar lifestyles, which are, or at least should be, just as irrelevant. Such bias [German link] can also play a role in other staffing decisions.
This can be countered by deriving selection criteria directly from the requirements profile for the job, distinguishing, however, between requirements which are a must and those which are additional. In this way, a relatively objective standard can be found for assessing staff. People are then comparable on the basis of their qualification profiles. Personal characteristics susceptible to bias are pushed into the background. For the selection interview, a checklist building on this can be compiled.

The interview
It is precisely in the interview that, on the basis of personal interaction, unquestioned prejudices have a effect which is often subtle and detrimental to the quality of the decision. This tendency can be countered by filling the interview panel by quota and having a  uniform checklist for the interviews. The following aspects are especially important in a selection interview:
  • Similarity between applicant and interviewer:
    People who are similar to the person making the decision (same sex, same age and same origin) tend to be more positively assessed than others. Studies show that men making the decisions tend to assess male applicants more positively than female applicants with the same qualifications. This can be countered by just noting down information in the interview and evaluating it later in a panel composed of an equal number of men and women.
  • Gender-stereotypical attributions and expectations:
    The assessment of a person is to a very great extent dependent upon whether her or his behavior is true to gender stereotype. Some kinds of behavior, e.g. expressing one’s own opinion, are seen in men as thoroughly positive, but can result in more negative assessments of women. Women are seen as contentious. Different evaluations of the same behavior is very characteristic for jobs which are themselves connoted as male or female.
    It is in particular assessed negatively if a woman behaves in deviation from the stereotype (“role discrepancy”). In male connoted areas of work (such as top management positions or technical professions), the consequence of this is that women are perceived either as being masculine in line with the job, but then “too masculine”, or as being “feminine” and therefore not suitable for the job. This can be countered with the aid of the requirement profile as outlined above.
  • Self-presentation – impression management:
    People present themselves differently and are often, even unintentionally, perceived differently according to their sex. This starts with clothing and continues right through to technical talk. Success for women is often attributed to luck and a favorable situation, while with men it is more likely to be put down to performance based on their abilities. This attribution is frequently reinforced by the persons in question. What is important, then, in the selection decision is appropriate impression management. The convincing presentation of one’s own abilities can be the decisive criterion for success in the actual decision situation.

Selection decision
An important requirement for non-discriminatory staff selection is knowledge of possible bias and the necessary skill in avoiding unequal treatment. Studies of stereotype behavior show clearly that gender stereotypes have a particularly strong effect when people are not aware of these stereotypes. It is therefore advisable to carry out relevant awareness measures within the framework of continued training measures for management staff.
Willingness to deal with matters of equal treatment can be enhanced by means of the annual collection of figures, as prescribed in Sec. 24 of the Federal Equal Treatment Act, on the numbers of women and men in applications, appointments, promotion and continued training. If it emerges here that predominantly men are applying for jobs, advertisements can be scrutinized for gender stereotypes. If mostly men are being appointed, even though there are a sufficient number of suitably qualified female applicants, or even vice versa, then the selection procedure must be reviewed for discriminatory elements. In this way, a control can be established in order to review selection decisions within the organization systematically for their gender-specific effects. An important fundament for a modern, service-oriented administration.

Further reading

  • Beus, Hans Bernhard: Leitlinien der Personalentwicklung im Zuge der weiteren Verwaltungsmodernisierung. Rede zur Eröffnung der Fachtagung „Personalauswahl im öffentlichen Dienst“ in der BKöV am 3.05.2006.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung – Abteilung Personal: Welche Anforderungen werden an mich gestellt? Broschüre für die Mitarbeitenden, 2005.
  • Thomas Eckes: Geschlechterstereotype: Von Rollen, Identitäten und Vorurteilen; in: Ruth Becker, Beate Kortendiek (Hg.), Handbuch Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung. Theorie, Methoden, Empirie, 2004.
  • Kay, Rosemarie, Gewinnung und Auswahl von MitarbeiterInnen, in: Gertraude Krell (Hg.), S. 153-173.
  • Krell, Gertraude (Hg.), Chancengleichheit durch Personalpolitik – Gleichstellung von Frauen und Männern in Unternehmen und Verwaltungen. Wiesbaden: Betriebswirtschaftlicher Verlag Dr. Th. Gabler GmbH 1998.
  • Krumpholz, Doris: Wahrnehmung von Frauen bei Einstellungen und Beurteilungen; in: Gleichstellung in der Praxis 2005/5, S. 23-28.
  • Nadler, Jutta, Wir sind weder Stuten noch bissig. Wie Frauen lange gehegten Vorurteilen begegnen und sie abbauen können; in: GiP 2/2009, S. 14-19.
erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07