Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Selection of an HR Generalist at a Public University

Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Selection of an HR Generalist at a Public University

Article excerpt

Mike Peters, the Chair of the Selection Committee for the position of Human Resource Partner (Generalist), received an email from Maria Hernandez, the new Director of Affirmative Action. She was responding to his message which informed her that his committee had completed its phone interviews with the top six candidates and it wanted to invite three of the candidates in for on-campus interviews. As he read Maria's email, he thought:

   Whaaaaatt! What does she mean "it might be best to consider"
   inviting two more of the phone interviewees in for on-site
   interviews? The email I sent her clearly stated that "three"
   candidates were "significantly" better than the two in the next
   group. Does she believe that just because they initially looked
   good on paper that they can't be rated lower now? What is the
   purpose of conducting screening interviews if we can't make
   decisions based on the information we obtain? Our committee
   conducted phone interviews for a reason, "to better assess" the
   candidates for the HR Partner job here at the university. Keeping
   lower ranking candidates in the process is only going to delay our
   hiring of the most qualified candidate, get these lower quality
   candidates' hopes up, cost the university more money to bring them
   to campus, and waste those candidates' time as well as the time of
   numerous university personnel. Is this really necessary? Is she
   making a recommendation or is it a directive?


Mike Peters was a Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Rocky Mountain State University (RMSU). The university had approximately 20,000 students enrolled and employed approximately 2,200 faculty and staff. Mike had been a faculty member at RMSU for over 15 years and taught courses including Human Resources Psychology, Measurement of Human Resources, and Human Resource Selection. Before earning his doctorate, Mike had worked as an HR manager for a mid-sized software company. Mike considered himself to be an expert in personnel measurement, particularly in the areas of personnel selection and performance appraisal.

Over the years, Mike had served on a number of selection committees for the University's Human Resources Department. He liked being involved in these job searches to keep himself in the HR game so to speak. It provided him with an opportunity to practice a little of what he taught and helped him to maintain a working relationship with the HR practitioners at the university.

Mike first learned of the opening for the HR Partner position from one of his students. The next day, he went on-line to look at the opening and then sent an email to Jon Hill, the Director of HR, to let him know that he would like to serve on the selection committee if that would work for Jon. Jon responded the next day and informed Mike that he had been thinking about the composition of the committee, that Mike's name had come to mind, and that he would like to take Mike up on his offer.

Mike ran into Kathy Smith while he was grocery shopping. She had been employed in three different positions at the university. Initially she had worked as an HR Partner, then had a job as a Budget Officer, and then later had worked as the Payroll Administrator. After working less than three years, she terminated her employment with the university taking a higher paying position with a much larger national organization. She explained to Mike that the job she had taken required a lot more traveling than she had been told, and she left that job after only three months because of the excessive travel requirements. Subsequently, after a few months' hiatus, she accepted a position locally as a Compensation Administrator. It was then that Mike mentioned to her that one of the HR Partner positions was open, and that he was going to be on the search committee for that job. She asked Mike if he was going to be the chair of the committee and Mike answered, "Oh no, Jon is too smart for that. …

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