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The Research That Informs Our Best Practice Recommendations: 100 Years of Selection & Recruitment Research in the Journal of Applied Psychology

A summary of the review article written by Robert E. Ployhart, Neal Schmitt, and Nancy T. Tippins

The Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP; one of industrial/organizational psychology’s most highly-respected publications) recently published a centennial review issue. One of our favorite articles was a review of the last 100 years of research on selection and recruitment. Because JAP’s research heavily influences our best practice recommendations at CMA, we thought our clients may also be interested in the article. However, we recognize not many people have time to read a detailed review, so we’ve outlined historical highlights and few of our favorite takeaways from the article below.

Most selection and recruiting research aims to answer one of three questions:

  1. “How do I accurately determine who has the KSAOs to perform a particular job?”
  2. “Where do I find them?”
  3. “How do I identify people of diverse backgrounds?”

Recruitment and selection processes are not just about hiring the right people — they’re about attracting the right people as well.

Changes in business, economics, the legal environment, the political environment, and societal systems all contribute to innovation in recruitment and selection processes and subsequent changes in the ways we study them.

Timeline Overview: Research’s Changing Focus

Briefly, a review of recruitment and selection research’s changing focus in the last 100 years:



Research Takeaways:

  1. Multidisciplinary research allows for broader understandings of individual capability and diversity in the workforce. Continuing to audit our own practices for validity and appropriate use is imperative as more organizations adopt these techniques in their own selection and recruiting strategies.
  2. In today’s workplaces, speed and flexibility requirements are changing the nature of work and creating the need for much more dynamic and non-linear selection and recruiting processes. This makes these topics more difficult to study, but also more effective. Research is currently working to become more dynamic and interwoven to match the way the processes are handled in practice and continue to innovate and move these processes forward.
  3. Integrated research practices aim to understand two points of view in both selection and recruiting: the individual candidate and the organization. Continuing to approach these topics with both needs in mind creates more opportunities to identify and create practices that are most beneficial for all.

Because recruitment and selection research are fundamentally intertwined and affected by many similar forces, researchers continue to adapt their methods to provide integrated solutions to our most pressing questions. What questions do you currently have that may be aided by research-based findings?

All review content from: Ployhart, R. E., Schmitt, N., & Tippins, N.T. (2017). Solving the Supreme Problem: 100 Years of Selection and Recruitment at the Journal of Applied Psychology. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 291-304.