A PERSONNEL SELECTION PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Recent studies of personnel management practices in small businesses in the United States have identified the importance of personnel selection in the performance of the business. For example, a recent Roper Organization poll found that the most difficult problem for small businesses was "finding competent workers, then motivating them to perform.'1 While no business can afford to hire inadequate personnel, ". . . the small business is particularly burdened in this regard since each employee constitutes a large percentage of the work force.'2 An inaccurate selection decision results not only in costs to recruit, train, and compensate an incompetent employee, but also in the cost of repeating these steps until an acceptable employee is found.3
1 The Wall Street-Journal (March 20, 1980), p. 1.
2 Robert J. Solomon, "Using the Interview in Small Business,' Journal of Small Business Management (October 1984), p. 22.
3 Ibid., p. 23.
Some common practices contribute to the difficulty in developing effective personnel selection programs in small businesses. One survey of the personnel duties performed in small firms found that the owner/manager, rather than a personnel specialist, most often screened and hired employees.4 Another study concluded that ". . . the recruitment and selection strategies used [in small businesses] was unimaginative. The interview and application blank accounted for 90 percent of the most frequently used selection techniques.'5
4 Beverly Little, "The Performance of Personnel Duties in Small Louisiana Firms: A Research Note,' Journal of Small Business Management (October 1986), pp. 66-69.
5 Glenn M. McEvoy, "Small Business Personnel Practices,' Journal of Small Business Management (October 1984), pp. 1-8.
The purpose of this article is to describe the development of a multistep selection strategy that is useful for small businesses. This strategy is based on the principle of incorporating "behavioral consistency' into selection devices used to make decisions among job applicants, a principle which has been useful in developing various types of selection programs. In describing the proposed personnel selection strategy, recommendations are made about the types of selection instruments which can be developed and used by small businesses.
PERSONNEL SELECTION IN SMALL BUSINESSES
The essence of effective selection lies in making predictions about the future job performance of applicants for a given position. But such predictions are difficult, partly because only a limited amount of information can be gathered in the selection process, and because important characteristics of job applicants are hard to measure accurately.
The quality of selection decisions depends on the accuracy and completeness of the information gathered from applicants. The amount of information collected is often severely limited, however, by cost and logistical constraints. Because small businesses usually do not employ selection specialists, the time used to gather information from applicants is time taken away from other business functions. An appropriate goal, therefore, is to develop selection instruments that collect only the most directly relevant information.
Measurement of an applicant's characteristics refers to scoring applicants according to the number and degree of desirable job performance characteristics they possess. For example, applicants for a position in an auto repair shop might be measured on their knowledge of auto parts and their skill in diagnosing engine defects. Measuring applicants on such characteristics is useful because it provides a means for making comparisons among applicants. It is easier to compare numbers than general impressions, especially if numerous applicants are considered for a position. The goal for small business is to develop methods of measuring applicants that accurately reflect characteristics important for job performance. …