Hiring Reform – Part 2…
October 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm #112694
Bryan HochsteinParticipantIn my opinion, one of the more baffling aspects of the Hiring Reform is the requirement for all agencies to use Category Rating. The main justification was to create more flexibility for the hiring manager to see more candidates on the selection list. Personally, I would have just expanded the “Rule of 3” to the “Rule of 12” or some number higher than 3. Unfortunately, that would be too effective and too easy.Category Rating has been around for years and went “mainstream” with the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Still, it doesn’t seem to be very popular with most agencies. One of the big problems for agencies will require training on how to differentiate quality between categories. This should be a great business opportunity for good firms with I/O psychologists. In fact, I recommend HR departments convert 1 position to a contract I/O psych position. Why a contract position?Anywho, there are some interesting nuances with Category Rating over Traditional Scoring and it will lead to some unintended consequences if not derail Hiring Reform all together.For instance, differentiating quality between the categories is going to be tougher than people think. At issue, is that agencies have to define the differentiation before the job goes live. It’s not like they can wave a magic wand and say here’s the cut off for the top group. This will take some practice and with the volumes of applicants on the rise, I believe a few challenging applicants will keep agencies on their toes (that’s code for slow the process).Also, the term “Absolute Veteran’s Preference”, is applied to all eligible veterans. In the past, Vets would receive an additional 5 or 10 points to their score (accounting for 16 to 33% of the score) and it could affect their ranking enough to be in the top 3. However, Absolute Preference puts qualified vets at the very top of their category and they cannot (and should not) be passed over easily.This is trouble because there are actually a few agencies whose veteran hiring leaves something to be desired. They are in for a rude awakening.I predict that the increased use of Category Rating will lead to complaints by “protected groups” such as women and minorities. Whether justified or not, these complaints will find their way to the halls of Congress and when they get involved rest assure that 1) they’ll make things worse and 2) they’ll look for ways to get “pet” agencies away from hiring reform. This won’t be too hard since “the memo” is a joke anyway.Further, Category Rating has a few requirements that will make an HR Director’s life miserable. There are some reporting requirements that have been codified into law. These reports look at the impact on the hiring of vets and minorities and how their managers were trained in the use of Category Rating.These reports are to be mailed to:U.S. Office of Personnel Management Associate DirectorEmployee Services1900 E Street, NW., Room 6500Washington, DC 20415″Note to self: “Self, you need to FOIA these reports.”After nearly 8 years since the passage of the Homeland Security Act, there are reasons that Category Rating hasn’t gone mainstream. Ironically, I believe it could be Hiring Reform’s undoing.
October 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm #112702
William H. (Hank) BattyParticipant
Very interesting post. While I am with state government, rather than the federal, I can sympathize and concur with many of your concerns. I believe you were absolutely correct in advocating an expanded hiring rule–in my state (Oklahoma) we use the rule of 10-as a preferable method to the “Category Rating” you describe. We have received very few complaints from state agencies believing that selecting from the top ten screens out the best candidates.
Veteran’s preference is another issue entirely. Oklahoma’s statutes require that a veteran with a disability rated at 30% or more and who meets minimum qualifications (and who passes an examination, if one is required for the position) go to the top of the list and cannot be passed over without showing just cause. The processs to disqualify such a veteran is time-consuming and often contentious. Our statutes also award any honorably discharged veteran 5 point preference and a disabled veteran whose disability is rated at less than 30 percent 10 points. We receive, to the best of my knowledge, zero complaints about these awards. It is very difficult to have open discussions about the effect of veteran’s preference because it becomes a very sensitive and emotional subject. The best I can offer the feds on these issues is a heart-felt “Good Luck”.
October 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm #112700
I’ve never really understood the resistance to catagory rating. It’s just another way of doing things. At the NRC we have done catagory rating exclusively for 35 years. Our managers don’t even know there is another way to do it. It’s no big deal. The managers like it. We zip through the hiring process. We hire high quality employees year after year, including high quality veterans.
Oh, and we’re the Best Place to Work in the Federal government 3 times in a row.
November 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm #112698
As Bernd Wegener said in his emperical comparison of Category-Rating and Magnitude Estimation Scaling Techniques
“The application of a system of measurement structures for category-rating and magnitude scales is tested with regard to numerous sensory and social judgment scales. Results indicate that, on the average, category-rating scales yield interval scales and multimodality matching scales yield logarithmic interval scales. However, marked interindividual differences are detected, pointing to different capabilities subjects have in coping with both methods.
It is asked, therefore, how suboptimal scale quality affects the results of parameter estimation in structural equation models in which judgment scales serve as indicator variables. Based on a general psychophysical judgment model it is shown that the measurement theoretical properties of magnitude scales of individual respondents account for large proportions of the variation of estimated coefficients and of goodness of fit. For category-rating scales the effects scale properties have on parameter estimation cannot be determined because of nonhomogeneous judgment functions.”
November 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm #112696
Category Rating has been used for years in the so called “laboratories of government” – Florida, Georgia, and Texas – that have made radical reforms to their civil service systems. To date, none of these states appear to be sliding into the sea.
Also, USDA used it since the early 1990’s under a special demonstration authority (DEMO) and that Department didn’t fall into a sinkhole. In fact, MSPB found a HIGHER rate of Vets and protected class hiring under ‘DEMO” authority at USDA.
The “End Of The World” may come but it will not be due to Category Rating.
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