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A comparison of the validity of different selection methods (continued)

A number of important points emerge from Table C. First whilst the evidence for criterion related validity is high for both structured interviews and selection centres, applicants tend to prefer the latter method as it gives them more multiple opportunities to demonstrate their skills, and is also clearly related to the job in question. However, both within medicine and in other professional groups, structured interviews are more commonly used than selection centres.

Table C provides a comparison of some of the main selection methods (Patterson et al, 2013).

Selection Method

Evidence for Criterion related Validity

Applicant reactions

Extent of Use

Structured Interviews

High

Moderate to Positive

High

Cognitive Ability

High

Negative to Moderate

Moderate

Personality Tests

Moderate

Negative to Moderate

Moderate

Selection Centres

High

Positive

Moderate

Graphology

Low

Negative to Moderate

Low

References

Low

Positive

High

 

A second point that emerges from Table C is that references have low predictive validity, even though their use as part of a selection process is high. However, in the context of medical specialty selection typically a rank ordering of applicants is obtained on the basis of the application form and interview (or selection centre) and only then are references reviewed to see if any significant issues have been reported that might necessitate re-considering giving a particular applicant an offer. In this way, unless the references highlight significant issues, they make no contribution to the final offer decision.


Graphology is the study of personality through the analysis of handwriting and its inclusion in Table C may be something of a surprise. Although there are no reports in the medical education literature of graphology being used as part of a selection process, in some European countries (particularly in France) in some occupational sectors, graphology is still widely used. There is however little research evidence that it is possible to predict future job performance on the basis of an applicant’s handwriting.

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