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Monday, August 29, 2005

The principles of selection

A problem constantly before the modern administration, whether in government or business, is that of personnel selection.
Past metods proved to be often ineffective and to produce the wrong candidates.

What method should be used in the future?

The usual mistake lies in the advertisment; too often attracts too many applications, thus the problem to make a choice.
Let's make an example.
Let's pretend we ought to hire a Prime Minister.
Let's suppose that the qualities deemed as essential are:

Energy, Courage, Patriotism, Experience, Polpularity, and Eloquence.

Now, it will be observed that all these are generally qualities which all possible applicants would believe themselves to possess.
The field could of course be narrowed by asking for example:
Experience of lion-taming, or Eloquence in Mandarin.
But that is not the way in which we want to narrow the field.
In other words, the succesful candidate must be the most energetic, courageous, patriotic, experienced, popular and eloquent man in the country.
Only one man can answer to that description and his is the only application we want.
We should therefore word the advertisment in some such a way as follows:

Wanted: Prime Minister

Hours work: 4 A.M to 11.59 P.M.

Candidates must be prepared to fight three rounds with the current heavyweight champion.
Candidates will die for their country by painless means, on reaching the age of retirment. ( this will leave the chance to postpone the age of retirement, should the necessity occur).
They will have to pass an examination in palamentary procedure and will be liquidated should they fail to obtain 95% marks.
They will also be liquidated if they fail to gain 75% votes in popularity.
All candidates should present themselves at...on...
Gloves will be provided.

Observe that this advertisment saves all troubles about application forms, testimonials, photographs, references...
If the advertisment has been correctly worded, there will be only one applicant.
But what if there is no applicant?
That is the proof that the advertisment needs rewording.
The popularity poll can be reduced to 85% or even 65.
Suppose however that two or even three candidates present themselves.
Whatever the cause, the damage has been done.
Let us assume that all the candidates have all the qualities.
What we need to do is to apply a simple test.
To do this we ask the nearest lady:
Which would you prefer?
She will promptly point out one of the candidates and finish the matter.
It has been objected that this procedure is the same thing as tossing a coin or otherwise letting chance decide.
But there is in fact no element of chance.
It is merely the last minute insistence on one other quality, one not so far taken into account: the quality of sex-appeal.
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