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Using Biodata as a Selection Instrument. ERIC/TM Digest.
Biographical inventory is a selection device used as an alternative or supplement to cognitive testing because this measurement method predicts aspects of job performance that are not predicted by cognitive measures. Examples of these aspects of performance are interpersonal relationships (e.g., with co-workers or clients) and motivation.
Biographical inventories have been empirically developed against such varied criteria as amount of insurance sold by life insurance agents, turnover of bank clerks, productivity of research scientists, and performance of naval personnel in diver training. Such inventories have proved valid as predictors of job performance in groups ranging from unskilled workers, office clerks, and service station dealers to chemists, engineers, and high-level executives. Personal history types of items that discriminate can provide a great deal of information about what kinds of employees remain on a job and what kinds do not, and what kinds are promotable and what kinds are not.
This Digest discusses some of the issues and concerns about using biographical inventories as well as the rationale behind them; their verifiability; their format; legal issues associated with them; evidence about their reliability; and validity and fairness.
- background, general
- employment experience
- socioeconomic level- financial status
- personal characteristics, attitudes expressed.
Owens (1976) advocates using items with response options that lie along a continuum (either apparent or demonstrated), for ease of statistical analysis.
BIODATA AND LEGAL ISSUES
Several documents have been generated that set forth the legal and technical standards for test development, use, and validation. The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures provide frames of reference to ensure that major relevant test construction issues are addressed.
VALIDITY AND FAIRNESS EVIDENCE
Other issues of concern for biodata are accuracy, fakeability, invasion of privacy, and adverse impact. Very little information exists to support or refute allegations of inaccuracy, invasion of privacy, or fakeability. Owens (1976) reviewed investigations of adverse impact and reported that "the major dimensions of biodata responses are quite stable across cultures, age, race, and sex groups, and companies." Adverse impact may depend on the degree to which items elicit information that directly or indirectly reflects cultural differences in social, educational, or economic advancement opportunities. Thus, in constructing inventories, care must be taken to include items with potential for reducing adverse impact.
Hunter, J.E. and R.F. Hunter (1984) The validity and utility of alternative selection predictors of job performance, Psychological Bulletin, 96, 72-98.
Owens, W.A. (1976) Background data. In M.D. Dunnette (ed.) Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology. Chicago: Rand McNally.
Reilly, R.R. and G.T. Chao (1982) Validity and fairness of some alternative employee selection procedures, Personnel Psychology, 35, 1-62.
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education under contract number RI88062003. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily re flect the position or policies of OERI or the Department of Education
Title: Using Biodata as a Selection Instrument. ERIC/TM Digest.
Descriptors: * Biographical Inventories; Cognitive Tests; * Data Collection; * Individual Characteristics; * Job Performance; * Occupational Tests; * Personnel Selection; Predictive Measurement; Questionnaires; Test Construction; Test Items; Test Reliability; Test Validity
Identifiers: ERIC Digests
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