Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

5. Using the Application Blank to Reduce Office Turnover*

Edwin A. Fleishman and Joseph Berniger

THOUGH THE application blank, in one form or another, is omnipresent in business and industry, all too often it is used in a superficial and unsystematic manner. In many employment situations, for example, the personnel interviewer either merely scans the blank for items he considers pertinent or uses the information only as a point of departure for the employment interview. As a result, much of the wealth of information in the application blank is going to waste, or worse, is often improperly used. In actual fact, however, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that, properly validated and used, the application blank can markedly increase the efficiency of the company's selection procedures.

The rationale for using the application blank (though this is seldom verbalized explicitly) is that the applicant's personal history, such as his previous experience and interests, is predictive of his future success on the job. And, indeed, it does seem reasonable to assume that such data as previous employment history, specific skills, education, financial status, marital record, and so forth, reflect a person's motives, abilities, skills, level of aspiration, and adjustment to working situations.

A number of assumptions can be made from such information. For example, the fact that an applicant has held a similar job indicates the likelihood of his transferring some of his training to the new job. Similarly, what he has done successfully before is likely to reflect his basic abilities in that area, as well as his interest in and satisfaction derived from these activities. Such personal history items as age, number of dependents, years of education, previous earnings, and amount of insurance have also been found to correlate with later proficiency on the job, earnings, length of tenure, or other criteria of job success. It should be emphasized, however, that the items found to be predictive of success in one job may not be the same for another, similar job--even in the same company. Furthermore, even for the same job, sonic items on the application blank may be more predictive of one particular aspect of job performance than of other aspects (for example, turnover, accidents, or carnings).

____________________
*
From "One Way To Reduce Office Turnover," Personnel, Vol. 37, 1960, pp. 63-69.

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