Swing Set Assembly to Simulate Job Performance
How does assembling a swing set relate to job performance? That’s a question I asked years ago when a Pacific Northwest manufacturer used swing set construction as an experiential demonstration aspect of employee selection.
Selection Via a Practice Assembly Activity
Here’s how it happened: The manufacturer provided a boxed swing set, along with some brief instructions for assembly. Nothing more was provided, including a deadline for completion. The group of job candidates then proceeded to assemble the swing set. Meanwhile, trained behavioral observers rated the behavior of the job candidates. Behaviors like emergent leadership, instructing, offering feedback, and ability to work in a group were all were noted and scored. However, not all of the dimensions were behaviorally based, and observers did not need to reach a consensus. Additionally, the sessions were rarely videotaped for review.
Weak Job Performance Predictors
For reasons that will become clear below, this assembly activity or job performance simulation has fallen out of favor by most organizations as a predictor of job performance. The objective of this exercise was to use the swing set assembly data to predict ultimate job performance and make hiring decisions. They combined the data with other predictors, including one-on-one interviews (notoriously of low validity) and an assessment of the candidate’s experience (also notoriously of low validity).
Results of Employee Selection Gimmicks
Overall, the results of the swing set experiential demonstrations were unreliable in predicting job performance. Furthermore, the scheme took a lot of time and energy on the part of the candidates and the observers, with no satisfactory results.
People who excelled in the group swing set assembly task were hired for entry-level positions. However, when promoted to higher-level jobs, those same people lacked the ability and motivation to learn the more advanced jobs and perform them at a high level.
While the new hires got along well, many were unable to advance because they struggled to meet the job demands of the higher-level jobs. In short, the swing set assembly job simulation did not measure or relate to the demands of the higher-level jobs those employees needed to advance to.
A Call for Help
The challenge of the employees who could not move up and perform well in higher level jobs caused the manufacturer to abandon the swing set assembly exercise as an employee selection process. Their pleas for help led to a referral from another manufacturing organization that had used our employee selection process to restaff a closed mill.
Rigorous Selection to the Rescue
When we got the call, we worked to enact a selection process that was rigorous, reliable, and repeatable. The resulting employee selection process involved:
• Tests of cognitive ability
• Structured board interviews
• Background checks
• Drug tests
The Value of Rigorous Selection
After adopting our proven, research-based employee selection process, the manufacturer experienced an increase in productivity over previous years. Consequently, the manufacturer adopted our employee selection process across its entire organization.
Employee Selection Training
Want to validly predict employee performance time after time, without building hundreds of swing sets? Contact us today to learn about the 15dots virtual and in-person training for employee selection.