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Multiple cut-off approach

What is Multiple Cut-off Approach?

The selection process results in the hiring of candidates who, according to the performance on the pre-employment tests, are capable of achieving higher levels of success as compared to their fellow contenders. In order to maximize the chances of hiring the right candidate for the job, the hiring managers must make sure to obtain a variety of job-related information and performance levels using various tools during the pre-employment tests. In the absence of efficient employment tests, decision-makers often fail to hire the best and most deserving candidate for the job, thus inadvertently exposing themselves to unnecessary financial and legal risks.

In order to avoid unnecessary risks and choose the right candidate for the job, employers can choose from several structures of this selection system:

Multiple Hurdle Approach

In this structure, a chain of hurdles (difficulties) is established and the candidate must get through it in order to move on to the next step of the selection process. A cut-off score or a passing score is established for each hurdle. The hurdles consist of either a selection test or various aspects of the selection tests. The basic requirements such as the level of education, or cognitive ability, are considered before putting the candidates through the selection process, in order to narrow the candidate pool. The structure allows employers to refine the pool of candidates who are qualified enough to be considered for the job, without allowing the validity of the selection process to be compromised.

Multiple Cut-off Approach

The multiple cut-off approach is similar to the multiple hurdle approach. In both the processes, There is a minimum level or minimum score that the candidates are required to meet in order to be considered for the job. However, unlike the multiple hurdle approach that involves crossing one hurdle at a time and being given a score for each hurdle passed. The multiple cutoff approach involves considering the scores of the candidate simultaneously based on a variety of assessments. The multiple cutoff approach requires the candidates to achieve the cut-off score for all the dimensions with no exceptions, failing which, they are considered unfit for the position of employment.

The Multiple Hurdle Method is particularly appealing in situations where a large applicant pool exists for a relatively small number of openings. 

Multiple Hurdle Method Sometimes called the “multiple cutoff” or “funnel method,” this approach involves the administration of decision-making tools sequentially with the elimination of candidates at each stage who do not score at a satisfactory level. 

In the example above, applications are used to screen-out the majority of candidates (i.e., from 500 candidates to 200), followed by an initial interview or phone screen, employment testing and so on.

The Multiple Hurdle Method is particularly appealing in situations where a large applicant pool exists for a relatively small number of openings. In a case like this, it is simply too costly and time-consuming to put all the candidates through all steps in the hiring process. When determining the sequence of decision-making tools, it is important to begin with tools that validly screen out a large number of applicants at a relatively low cost to the organization. Applications, skills inventories, telephone screening interviews and online testing are all good options for that purpose. Tools that are costly and time-consuming to administer, such as simulations and interviews by hiring managers, are usually placed near the bottom of the funnel and used for making the final decision.

There are two basic options for applying a Multiple Hurdle Method-

The first is to screen individuals using a decision-making tool (e.g., application, phone interview, test score) and then eliminate that information from the next step in the process (i.e., it no longer is considered).

The second approach is to use the tool for eliminating candidates, but then carry that information forward to be considered in the next step of the decision process. For example, test or simulation information could be used to eliminate a certain number of candidates, but then carried forward and considered along with a final interview to make the hiring decision. 

What is the difference between Multiple Hurdle Approach and Compensatory approach?

A threshold question in designing the selection process is determining how the applicant should proceed through the process. Two options are most frequently used:

  • Multiple hurdle approach In a multiple hurdle approach, the applicant must pass each step in the selection process. Failure at any step disqualifies the applicant from further consideration.
  • Compensatory approach In the compensatory approach, applicants complete the whole selection process and their scores in each stage are added up to determine final ranking.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Multiple Hurdle Approach & Compensatory Approach?

 The multiple hurdle approach is efficient, eliminating candidates at each step of the process. However, it might result in the elimination of outstanding candidates who are excellent in all areas except for one. The compensatory approach allows for a fuller examination of every candidate and enables a candidate to compensate for a weakness or poor performance in one stage. However, it is more time-consuming and expensive. The ultimate decision as to which type of approach to use likely revolves around the importance of the job, the availability of candidates, and organizational time and resource constraints. Most organizations use the multiple hurdle approach.

Broad outline of a typical selection process that includes-

  • Initial applicant contact
  • Prescreening
  • Application forms
  • Applicant testing
  • Interviews
  • Background and reference checking
  • Conditional job offer
  • Medical/drug testing
  • Offer and acceptance

Each stage in the process is discussed in the following sections.

Initial Applicant Contact

Recruitment methods were discussed earlier in this chapter. Often candidates express interest by showing up at the employer (such candidates are called walk-ins) or by telephoning and inquiring as to current or potential job openings. Other candidates might mail or fax unsolicited resumes. These types of inquiries must be handled appropriately by the organization. Employer branding concerns (discussed earlier in this chapter) require that these inquiries or submissions be handled in a professional and courteous manner. Yet the requirements for applicant flow tracking (also discussed earlier in the chapter) make additional clerical work. Many employers do not accept unsolicited resumes and require all applicants to follow standard application procedures, accepting applications only when openings are currently available.


Prescreening is the process of determining whether candidates meet the basic qualifications for the position. Many employers prescreen applicants prior to the application process. For example, if the employer accepts walk-in applications, it might determine at that time whether the candidate is qualified for its jobs. If not, the walk-in is not provided with a job application. In that way, the employer does not incur the time and expense of processing the application and can avoid the need to track the candidate for applicant flow purposes.

Other organizations prescreen on receipt of the application. They then reject those candidates that do not meet the minimum qualification standards for the job.

Application Forms

Application forms serve multiple purposes:

  • Provides a record of interest in employment
  • Provides information to determine the qualifications of the individual
  • Provides information that can be used in the employment interview
  • Provides the basic data needed for initial preparation of the personnel file
  • Clearly puts the employee on notice regarding the selection process and the nature of the employment relationship in that it typically contains one or more of the following notices:
  • That employment is at-will and either the employee or employer may terminate the relationship for any legal reason at any time
  • Notifies the applicant that falsification of information on the application is grounds for immediate termination
  • Notifies the applicant of any tests, including medical and drug tests, that will be required during the selection process
  • Advises the applicant that references will be checked

Application forms are tests and must not be discriminatory. Unless there is a business necessity or bona fide occupational qualification applications must yield information that would permit the identification of the applicant’s protected class status.

It is possible to use applications to rank order applicants in terms of qualifications for the job. This type of application is called a weighted or biodata application form. Scores are assigned to specific answers on the application form. Those scores are then added together to come up with an overall score that can be used to rank candidates. These processes often can be done by computer software that scans the application for key words and assigns points when they appear. Although these types of systems are efficient, they must be valid predictors of performance and job related to avoid adverse impact issues.

Employers must make a determination as to whether to accept resumes as applications. Even though resumes could contain rich data about the candidate, they might also contain information such as age, race, or religion—information that the selecting official should not know. Frequently, candidates attach pictures to their resumes, again providing information that cannot legally be used in most selection processes. Good HR practice, if resumes are to be accepted, is to

  • Redact (black out) information that cannot be used in the selection process.
  • Require the applicant to also complete an application. In that way, the candidate is provided with the notifications described earlier and the organization is assured of getting the required information necessary to consider the qualifications of the individual.

Applicant Testing

Many organizations use a variety of types of tests to improve the validity of the selection process. Valid tests that are job-related can be powerful predictors of subsequent on-the-job performance. Types of tests used in the selection process are discussed in the following sections.

Cognitive Ability Tests

These types of tests measure an individual’s mental abilities and acquired knowledge. Examples of cognitive ability tests are those that test memory, analytical ability, verbal capabilities, mathematical ability, and reasoning.

Physical Ability Tests

These tests measure an individual’s physical skills and mobility. They are often important indicators of the ability to perform manual types of jobs, such as work on assembly lines. Examples of physical ability tests are those that measure strength, flexibility, balance, and stamina.

Work Simulation Tests

These tests require the applicant to perform a representative sample of the tasks that are part of the responsibility of the job. To the extent that the test is representative of the actual job, these types of test can be excellent predictors of future performance.

Personality Tests

Certain personality traits can be specifically correlated with performance on the job. If predictive validity has been proven, these tests are excellent tools.

Assessment Centers

Assessment centers are processes not places. They consist of a variety of tests and exercises that are scored, often by multiple raters. Assessment centers can be used as developmental tools or in the selection process. Because of the expense involved, they are frequently used only for selection and development of higher-level positions.

Honesty / Integrity Tests

Although polygraph tests are generally prohibited as pre-employment tests in the private sector, honesty and integrity tests are not. They are particularly useful in the selection process when individuals will have access to money, such as retail cashiers and bank tellers. The downside to using such tests is that they send the message to the applicant that he or she is not trusted.

Drug Tests

Drug tests can be used as a pre-employment test. Many employers elect to wait until a conditional offer of employment is made. Drug testing is discussed in the following section on post-offer employment practices.


Organizations might use one or more interviews in the selection process. The purpose of interviews is to determine both person-job and person-organization fit, and to clarify information found on the application or gathered throughout the application process. If an organization uses more than one interview, the first interview is normally used as a screen early in the selection process. HR is frequently responsible for performing the initial interview, and it is used to screen out those candidates who are obviously unsuitable for the position for which they applied. Subsequent interviews are conducted at higher levels of the organization, usually with management participation. They are used to evaluate the potential of viable candidates.

The interview is a traditional mainstay in the selection process. However, its validity is questionable. Yet few managers feel comfortable in selecting individuals without an interview. To maximize validity, interviews should be structured, directive, behavioral, or situational, and conducted by more than one interviewer. There are numerous common problems in the interview process that could lead to incorrect determinations. Also there are certain types of questions that either do not elicit the responses required to evaluate the candidate or should not be asked because they might create the potential for adverse impact and EEO complaints. These issues are discussed in the following sections.

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