Making hiring decisions
: a grounded theory approach to a practise-based study of filtering in selection

  • Ralph McKinney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business Administration


This thesis objective is to discover “How are informal decisions reached by screeners when filtering out undesirable job applications?” Grounded theory techniques were employed in the field to observe and analyse informal decisions at the source by screeners in three distinct empirical studies. Whilst grounded theory provided the method for case and cross-case analysis, literature from academic and non-academic sources was evaluated and integrated to strengthen this research and create a foundation for understanding informal decisions.
As informal decisions in early hiring processes have been under researched, this thesis contributes to current knowledge in several ways. First, it locates the Cycle of Employment which enhances Robertson and Smith’s (1993) Selection Paradigm through the integration of stages that individuals occupy whilst seeking employment. Secondly, a general depiction of the Workflow of General Hiring Processes provides a template for practitioners to map and further develop their organisational processes. Finally, it highlights the emergence of the Locality Effect, which is a geographically driven heuristic and bias that can significantly impact recruitment and informal decisions.
Although screeners make informal decisions using multiple variables, informal decisions are made in stages as evidence in the Cycle of Employment. Moreover, informal decisions can be erroneous as a result of a majority and minority influence, the weighting of information, the injection of inappropriate information and criteria, and the influence of an assessor. This thesis considers these faults and develops a basic framework of understanding informal decisions to which future research can be launched.
Date of Award5 May 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPatrick A Tissington (Supervisor) & Vincenza Priola (Supervisor)


  • informal decisions
  • filtering
  • heuristics
  • hiring
  • selection

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