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Client Study: General Electric Hiring Large Volumes with Application System and Pre-Employment Tests

October 11, 2011

157384689In today’s economy, employers are experiencing many new challenges when it comes to high volume hiring. Depending on the geographic location of an organization’s facility, it’s fairly commonplace to see thousands of applicants apply for only a handful of open positions. General Electric recently received a surge of 6,000 applications for 480 jobs. Astoundingly, this occurred over the span of just 50 minutes.

General Electric was prepared for this type of situation and utilizes Select International’s automated application and assessment solutions. However, sifting through that many applications can be a daunting task for those without a structured process in place. Compiled from our experience with large volume start-ups and workforce expansions, below are 4 tips to ensure that you are prepared for an influx of applications:

1. Automate the process. Obviously an automated process will be a more efficient process that eliminates the need for the additional labor resources to manually sift through thousands of applications. Even more importantly an automated process insures the consistency and objectivity of your selection process. Human error or potential biases are eliminated. In addition, today’s web-based automated processes can provide real-time reporting capabilities so that HR managers have immediate access to applicant pass rates, demographic information, and other data to help with planning purposes.

2. Limit the number of your applicants. Whether you use an automated, on-line process or a more traditional paper application process it is critical that you take steps to limit your applicants to the lowest number necessary to meet your hiring goals. This is important for two reasons:

    • The OFCCP’s statistical method of determining adverse impact is very sensitive to the number of applicants. The more applicants that you have, the greater the risk that you will meet the definition of the OFCCP’s onerous statistical definition for adverse impact.

    • You want to limit your risk at the individual level. Each additional person you reject is another person that would be dissatisfied with the selection decision and may claim that they were unfairly treated in the selection process.

3. Develop a communication strategy. Proper communication to the applicant community is critical. The most important aspect of any communication strategy is to provide clear, consistent, instructions to applicants about the application process. GE used different methods and spent several weeks communicating to the community the date, time, and website that would accept applications. GE communicated that it would be a “first come, first serve” process and that only 6,000 applications would be accepted. GE’s application website announced when the 6,000 limit was reached.

This explicit and ongoing communication insured that applicants’ perception of the process was fair. Applicant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents are another recommended component of a communication strategy. Many candidates will have common questions like “I applied a couple of weeks ago why have I not received any communication about my status yet?” FAQs posted on the company website will cut down on the number of calls and emails from applicants and insures that all applicants receive the same answer to their questions. Unclear or inconsistent messages can lead to negative candidate reactions.

4. Treat every applicant like a potential customer. This tip is especially important for producers of consumer goods or service providers. Most applicants will not get a job at your company, but you still want them to purchase your goods or services. Just as a customer will tell friends and family about a bad experience they had with a company, an applicant will tell the same friends and family about a bad experience with a company’s hiring process.

This can have a negative impact on your company’s image in the community. Lost customers could be an unfortunate outcome.  Applicant perceptions to selection processes have been studied in recent years. Two factors identified that impact applicant perceptions are procedural justice and face validityProcedural justice can be loosely defined as the fairness (or perceived fairness) of the process used to determine outcomes. To maintain procedural justice it is important that every candidate has the same experience through the selection process. Inconsistent processes or communication can cause applicants to question the fairness of the hiring process. 

Face validity refers to the degree to which a process or test appears to be valid or job related. Do the questions that applicants answer in the application seem job related to the applicants? Questions that lack face validity may be perceived as arbitrary or unfair.  Essentially applicants, like customers want to be treated fairly in a consistent manner that meets their expectations.

high volume hiring


Brian Dishman Brian Dishman is a Senior Consultant at PSI. He educates safety leaders on the internal factors that impact employee safety. Brian focuses on safety leadership, safety culture development, and the psychology of safety.