Criteria Development

Principles of Selection

Before reviewing resumes and applications, a company must have a clear idea of the education, skills, and abilities they want to hire for the position. While the job specifications derived from the job analysis will help to understand which qualifications are required, it is also important to decide how these will be assessed. HR managers have access to a wide variety of tools to assess candidates’ KSAOs, and when structuring the selection process, there are a few principles to keep in mind.

Sequencing Based on Cost

Some KSAO’s are objective and very easy to measure. For example, whether someone has a bachelor’s degree in Biology or a truck driver’s license is easy to determine by looking at the resumes. Whether someone is a team player or can handle stress is not as straightforward to assess. This KSAO could be measured with an interview or a simulation, two relatively costly processes. In order to efficiently narrow down a list of applicants, HR managers will begin by screening for those more objective, easy-to-assess KSAOs and leave the expensive tests and checks for later in the process.

Validity and Reliability

The validity and reliability of assessment methods are considered the two most important characteristics of the assessment procedure. Validity is arguably the most important criterion for the quality of a test. The term validity refers to whether or not the test measures what it claims to measure. On a test with high validity, the items will be closely linked to the test’s intended focus. For example, if you are interested in measuring intelligence, the test that you are using must demonstrate that those who score high are more intelligent than those who score low. Reliability, on the other hand, refers to whether an assessment instrument gives the same results each time it is used in the same setting, with the same type of subjects. Reliability essentially means consistent or dependable results. Reliability is a part of the assessment of validity. For example, if you ask the same interview question for every applicant for the project management position, and the “right” answer always yields similar, positive results, such as the hiring of a successful employee every time, the question would be considered reliable. An example of an unreliable test might occur with reference checks. Most candidates would not include a reference on their resume who might give them a poor review, making this a less reliable method for determining the skills and abilities of applicants. To compensate for this potential bias, most organizations request 3 to 5 references and stipulate references must include at least one direct report, one or two immediate supervisor, and colleague.

Organizational Fit

Fit includes not only the right technical expertise, education, and experience or the KSAO’s derived from the job analysis, but also fit in the company culture and team culture. This means that companies can select based on criteria that go above and beyond the specific elements of the job. For example, at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, engineers are selected based on their willingness to take risks, as risk taking is nurtured at Facebook (McGirt, 2010). In addition to this component of their company culture, the company looks for the “hacker” personality, because a hacker is someone who finds ways around the constraints placed upon a system. At Amazon, a core value in their company culture is a focus on developing leaders to grow with the organization. If a potential candidate is not interested in long-term career growth, he or she might not be deemed an appropriate strategic fit with the organization. In today’s organizations, most people are required to work within teams. As a result, fit within a team is as important as the fit with company culture. Microsoft, for example, does an immense amount of teamwork. The company is structured so that there are marketers, accountants, developers, and many others working on one product at the same time. As a result, Microsoft looks for not only company culture fit, but also fit with other team members.



McGirt, E., “Most Innovative Companies,” Fast Company, February 2010, accessed July 12, 2011,


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Human Resources Management - 2nd Ontario Edition Copyright © 2022 by Elizabeth Cameron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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