Hiring Tools and Applicant Reactions

Topic: Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (SEP 2010)
Article: Applicant reactions in selection: Comprehensive meta-analysis into reaction generalization versus situational specificity
Authors: N. Anderson, J.F. Salgado and U.R. Hulsheger
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

While organizations should certainly be concerned about the ability of their selection tools to predict future performance on the job, they should also be concerned with job applicants’ perceptions of their experience during the hiring process. 

For example, for organizations whose job applicants are also potential customers, it’s vital that candidates who do not get hired (which most of them will not) have a positive experience.  This is also a particularly important issue for multinational organizations since there has been speculation that applicants in different cultures may react very differently to the same hiring tool. 

Anderson et al.’s (2010) meta-analysis on job applicant reactions to selection tools reveals that overall, job applicants tend to react most favorably to work samples (candidates are evaluated on their performance in a job-related activity) and job interviews.  Notably, these hiring tools are often viewed as the most job-relevant and “face valid” (they seem to measure what they intend to measure).  

Less popular than these tools, but still favorably rated by applicants overall were cognitive tests, personality inventories, biodata (basic information about a candidate), references, and resumes.  The least favored selection tools investigated by Anderson et al. were personal contacts, honesty tests and graphology (i.e., hand writing analysis). 

Perhaps most importantly, this pattern of results was relatively consistent across different countries. 

In fact, Anderson et al. found that despite the vast differences between the 17 countries included in their meta-analysis, applicants tended to react similarly to these different hiring tools.  Their findings also reveal that applicants’ preferences for various hiring tools are related to the validity of the tools.  In other words, those hiring tools that applicants respond most favorably to (e.g., work samples, interviews, cognitive tests, personality inventories) tend to predict job performance better than those tools that applicants favored least (e.g., graphology, personal contacts).

Contrary to the belief that applicants’ reactions to certain hiring tools may differ dramatically across countries, this actually may not be the case.  Anderson et al. warn, however, that their findings cannot generalize to other selection tools above and beyond what they investigated in this study. 

Anderson, N., Salgado, J.F., & Hulsheger, U.R. (2010). Applicant reactions in selection: Comprehensive meta-analysis into reaction generalization versus situational specificity. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18(3), 291-304.