Recruiting Question

by Betty Wright

One of the central ideas surrounding the concept of validity is interpretation of scores. Generally speaking, when we attempt to measure something, we assign a numerical value and call it a score. In "hard" measures, such as the length of a pencil in inches, we understand exactly what is meant when we are told a pencil is about 7 inches long. However, in "soft" measures, such as how extroverted someone's personality is, or how much of a team player they are, the meaning of the numbers we use is somewhat more ambiguous. Validity can be thought of as the extent to which you feel an assigned number accurately describes what we are measuring. It is about the meaning or interpretation of measurement scores.


Describe how you would go about determining a scoring system for for applicant's responses to (a) interview questions, and (b) letters of recommendation... two items that are commonly measured during a selection process.

Reply Quote

Hi Beth, Thanks for the terrific question. As you noted the art of selection is subject to interpretation. Companies vary on how they value the 2 inputs you mentioned, interview questions and letters of recommendation.

My personal belief is I want to talk to a person and if possible look them in the eye. Letters are passive and can sometimes be misleading.

I use this example, some years ago my Mom was in a school district and was constantly battling the superintendent of schools. She had one idea on curriculum, he another. This went on for a couple of years.

When my parents decided to move away to another state, my Mom got the most glowing letter of recommendation from that superintendent.

Was it because they developed a respect for each other? Perhaps but I also think he was so glad that she'd be going elsewhere that he wanted to make sure she got a job and would not be coming back.

The point is that while letters of recommendation be good, talking to the person is in my mind better...so long as you ask the right questions.

With that in mind, my sense of how to score things would be to weigh one type of input heavier than the other.

In this case, with just those two inputs, for the reason I gave earlier, I'd weigh the interview responses heavier than the letters of recommendation. The assumption here is that your interview questions are relevant to the job and determining whether a candidate is a good candidate. All bets are off if the questions are bad or the interviewer is unskilled.

In my mind weighting would rely heavily on the interview...like 90%/10%. Think of it as a few good recommendation letters can break a tie between two good candidates.

Thanks again for the question.

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