Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

6. The Validity of the Employment Recommendation Questionnaire in Personnel Selection*

James N. Mosel and Howard W. Goheen

ALTHOUGH IT CONTINUES to be a staple device in the selection procedures of many organizations, the employment recommendation questionnaire (ERQ) has received almost no empirical study. Known variously as reference check, voucher, "perif," and recommendation form, this device attempts to utilize the judgments and information of persons familiar with the applicant as an aid in personnel selection. Letters of recommendation and telephone checks represent other approaches to the same end. Scott et al.,1 in their periodic surveys of company personnel practices, have noted an increase in the use of structured, standardized questionnaires and a decline in the use of open-ended testimonial letters and narrative recommendations. In a survey conducted by the writers,2 the great majority of companies (76 per cent) felt that their selection procedures would suffer if ERQ replies were not available.

In general, four kinds of information are obtainable by ERQ: (a) employment history, (b) evaluations of the applicant's personality and "character," (c) evaluations of the applicant's job ability, and (d) attitude toward rehiring. The first kind of information is used to verify statements made in the application for employment. The remainder are used primarily to appraise the applicant's employability, and thus to predict job success. It is felt by many that while the employment interview and application blank tell what the applicant did, the ERQ may in addition tell how well he did it.

Yet there have been very few attempts to ascertain the reliability and

____________________
*
From Personnel Psychology, Vol. II, 1958, pp. 481-90. The studies reported here are from a program of studies conducted by the U.S. Civil Service Commission under the direction of the writers. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writers and publication does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Civil Service Commission or the Department of the Army.
1
W. D. Scott, R. C. Clothier, and W. R. Spriegel, Personnel Management ( 5th ed.; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954).
2
J. N. Mosel and H. W. Goheen, "Use of 'ERQ' in Hiring," Personnel Journal, Vol. 36, 1958, pp. 338-40.

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