Rapport Building on Job Interviews: How Much Does It Matter?

Rapport building is usually the first step of a job interview. Even when ensuing interview questions are standardized and job-relevant, it’s typical to start with a few questions that seek to ease tension and establish a friendly connection between the interviewer and interviewee. But questions remain: what is the purpose of this, and how does this affect how the interviewee is rated? On one hand, ability to establish good rapport may be indicative of a socially-competent candidate. On the other hand, if the interviewer forms a strong intuitive opinion about an applicant, it may color subsequent scores on the actual job interview questions. So, is rapport building good or bad?  Should the practice be continued or phased out?


Ethnic and Gender Discrimination When Reviewing Job Resumes

Job resumes are essential in making hiring decisions as they provide necessary information about applicants during the initial screening stages. However, resume screening is highly susceptible to psychological biases, and raters or screeners may rely on mental shortcuts that lead to inaccurate assessments, especially when relevant applicant information appears to be lacking. New research (Derous, Ryan & Serlie, 2015) explored how characteristics of the job and rater attitudes (ethnic prejudice, sexism) combine to influence the decisions of recruiters when limited information was provided in resumes.


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Recruitment Tips: Highlight Person-Organization Fit

One way organizations can make recruitment more successful is by stressing person-organization fit. Person-organization fit is a term that I-O psychologists use to describe how compatible employees are with the organizations that employ them. If an organization and a specific employee share values or ideas of how work ought to be done, or if they fulfill each other’s work-related needs, then we might say that there is a high degree of person-organization fit. It’s easy to imagine some of the ways that this would be beneficial to the organization, and past research has indeed supported this idea. New research (Swider, Zimmerman, & Barrick, 2015) took a novel approach by measuring how the perception of person-organization fit fluctuates over time, specifically during the recruitment process.


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Generational Differences in the Workplace: Careers Aren’t What They Used to Be

With the plethora of stories in the media about generational differences in the workplace, a new study provides evidence about what these generational changes may mean for employers. Given the demise of the traditional career path, employees’ career patterns have shifted over time. The current study (Lyons, Schweitzer, & Ng, 2015) analyzed data from the four generations currently in the workforce to provide a greater understanding of shifting career patterns, and how different generations are handling some of the changes that modern employees experience.


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The Strange Story Behind Situational Judgment Tests: What Do They Really Measure?

Situational judgment tests are often used during employee selection. They present the job applicant with a series of situations that may be encountered on the job. For example, one situation might include an anecdote about a co-worker encouraging you to steal. For each situation, several different responses are listed. Applicants simply choose the response that seems most appropriate. Because these tests are (hopefully) designed by I-O psychologists or other highly trained experts, certain answers are designed to reflect behavior that is consistent with good job performance. The more the applicant choses these “good” answers, the more certain we are that the applicant will succeed on the job if hired.


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Aging Workforce: Employees Who Are Healthy and in Control Stay Working

In our currently aging workforce, one in five workers are now age 55 or older. Given this changing demographic, it is important to identify the factors that lead to early departure from the workforce. One of the critical factors is perceived work ability, or the balance between personal resources and work characteristics. In order to prevent premature departure of the workforce, this study (McGonagle, Fisher, Barnes-Farrell, & Grosch, 2015) identified what leads to perceived work ability, and what happens when employees experience it.


Can we select employees with a guarantee they will stay?

Topic: Selection, Staffing, Turnover
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (APR 2011)
Article: Career decision status as a predictor of resignation behavior five years later
Authors: Joanne K. Earl, Amirali Minbashiana, Aun Sukijjakhamina and Jim E.H. Bright
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

Every organization has faced the problem of losing a great employee too soon.  But what if there was a way to see if an employee is likely to resign within several years of beginning his or her career? 

A new study attempts to link resignation after five years with career decision status at the onset. 


Organizational Attraction – It’s more than the Money!

Topic: Staffing, Culture, Work Environment
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (2010)
Article: Fit with What? The Influence of Multiple Self-Concept Images on Organizational Attraction
Authors: K. P. Nolan, C. M. Harold
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood

What attracts a potential employee to a specific organization – salary, benefits, promotion opportunities? Yes, in part, but attraction also stems from something deeper – an employee’s own self-image. Self-image consists primarily of two parts: the actual self (or the compilation of traits and attributes that an individual believes him or herself to possess) and the ideal self (or the collection of traits and attributes that an individual would like to acquire).


Beware of “Where I used to work, we ….” — It may be a sign of poor fit, low motivation.

Topic: Staffing, Selection, Recruiting, Motivation
Publication: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (83)
Article: Disengagement in Work-Role Transitions
Authors: C. Niessen, C. Binnewies, J. Rank
Reviewed By: Lauren A. Wood

Employees are no longer linked to an organization for life, and as a result, there has been an increase in job change in recent years. Researchers studying employees’ adjustment to a job change have suggested that in order to succeed, the new employee must detach or disengage from the previous job and organization.  This is especially critical when the employee is psychologically attached to their previous work place and/or work role as is typically the case when the employee has worked in their previous role for a long period of time.   


The Waning Voices of Senior Employees: Does Tenure Reduce Impact Levels?

Topic: Potential, Staffing, Training, Turnover
Publication: Human Resource Management (JAN 2011)
Article: Does voice go flat? How tenure diminishes the impact of voice
Authors: D. Avery, P. McKay, D. Wilson, S. Volpone, and E. Killham
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

In this line of research, voice refers to the ability to provide suggestions to the organization and feel that one’s input has some sort of effect.  When little control is perceived, the employee will work hard to gain control and the use of voice is one possible means of achieving this goal.  However, if an employee has been around for many years and feels his sense of control is compromised, to what extent does he continue to use his voice to impact the organization?


Managing Assessors’ Workloads in Assessment Centers

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (SEP 2010)
Article: Do assessors have too much on their plates? The effects of simultaneously rating multiple assessment center candidates on rating quality
Authors: K.G. Melchers, M. Kleinmann, and M.A. Prinz
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Assessment centers (ACs) usually consist of several job-related exercises that tap competencies necessary for the job.  ACs are most often used by organizations to select, promote and develop their employees.  Like many employee selection and assessment methods (e.g., interviews), ACs require a scorer or assessor to provide an evaluation of candidates’ performance.  But here’s where it gets tricky.


How Important are First Impressions at the Job Interviews?

Topic: Interviewing, Recruiting, Staffing
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (AUG 2010)
Article: Initial Evaluations in the Interview: Relationships with Subsequent Interviewer Evaluations and Employment Offers
Authors: M.R. Barrick, B.W. Swider, and G.L. Stewart
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

The answer:  Very!  And in today’s increasingly competitive job market, candidates are constantly trying to make themselves stand out as being the best of the bunch.  Considering the challenge in answering interview questions well, it’s easy for a candidate to forget about the impression that he or she makes during the first few minutes of small talk with the interviewer.  However, this seemingly idle chat might have more of an effect on employment decisions than one might think. 


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. 


Facebook Fun or Selection Suicide?

Topic: Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (June 2010)
Article: Who’s posting Facebook faux pas? A cross-cultural examination of personality differences
Authors: K. Karl, J. Peluchette, and C. Schlaegel
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Recent research suggests that a sizeable number of recruiters and organizations have reported eliminating applicants from consideration because of information posted on applicants’ personal profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Karl et al. (2010) investigated personality and cultural differences that help explain which people are more likely to post what they refer to as “Facebook faux pas” (e.g., content and pictures related to sex, drug/alcohol use) which can ultimately put them at risk for not receiving a job offer.


The Pearls and Perils of Work Sample Exams

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (JUN 2010)
Article: Work sample exams and gender adverse impact potential: The influence of self-concept, social skills, and written skills
Authors: P.L. Roth, M.A. Buster, and J. Barnes-Farrell
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Work sample exams are employee selection tools that represent actual or highly similar job task characteristics (i.e., writing a sample response email to a customer for a customer service job).  These selection tools are good predictors of job performance, and job applicants tend to respond favorably to them (largely because they are easily linked to the job).


The Good News about Structured Interviews

Topic: Staffing
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SUMMER 2010)
Article: Are highly structured job interviews resistant to demographic similarity effects?
Authors: J.M. McCarthy, D.H. Van Iddekinge, and M.A. Campion
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Interviews are by far one of the most commonly used personnel selection tools and for good reason: They work (at least when they’re structured)!

One potential problem with interviews is that irrelevant personal characteristics of interviewees (i.e., gender, race) may affect interview ratings; interviewees who are similar (race, gender) to interviewers will receive higher ratings in an interview than those who are dissimilar to the interviewers.  This can ultimately lead to illegal practices and failing to hire the best applicants. This potential problem is known as demographic similarity.  The underlying reason this may occur is that people view others who are similar to themselves more favorably than those who are different (e.g., She is just like me so she must also be awesome!).


Does It Pay to Measure Emotional Intelligence During Selection?

Topic: Assessment, Emotional Intelligence, Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (MAR 2010)
Article: Emotional intelligence in selection contexts: Measurement method, criterion-related validity, and vulnerability to response distortion
Authors: N.D. Christiansen, J.E. Janovics, and B.P. Siers
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a hot topic in both the personnel selection literature and the popular business press.  While there are many available measures of EI, approaches to its measurement can be organized into two general categories: (1) self-report questionnaires and (2) performance-based measures.  Self-report EI questionnaires are similar to personality measures in that they treat EI as non-cognitive traits and temperaments. Performance- or ability-based EI measures, on the other hand, treat EI as a largely ability-based trait that reflects how people process information related to their emotions and the emotions of others.


Making offers they can’t refuse: Quick job offers yield higher acceptance rates

Topic: Staffing
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The Effect of Job Offer Timing on Offer Acceptance, Performance, and Turnover
Authors: W.J. Becker, T. Connolly, J.E. Slaughter
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

Congratulations, you’re hired!  … Wait, where’d you go?

Have you ever found that your extensive, meticulous, and rigorous process of filling positions identifies applicants who are no longer interested in working for you? If so, you are not alone.

Research by Becker, Connolly, and Slaughter (2010) suggests that applicants who receive job offers soon after their final interview are more likely to accept them than those who receive delayed offers.


Everything You Need to Know about Situational Judgement Tests

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication: Human Resource Management Review (SEP 2009)
Article: Situational judgment tests: An overview of current research
Authors: Whetzel, D. L., & McDaniel, M.A.
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs): you may have heard of them, may have used them, may have taken them, and may swear by them, but unless you spend every waking moment thinking about SJTs (You nerd!), then you may want to read on. In a recent issue of the Human Resource Management Review, Whetzel and McDaniel (2009) provide a thorough overview of the current research on SJTs.


Balancing on the Tightrope of Ideal Turnover

Topic: Staffing, Turnover
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (APR 2009)
ArticleSearching for the optimal level of employee turnover: A study of a large U.K. retail organization
Authors: W.S. Siebert, N. Zubanov
Reviewed by: Katie Bachman

There are two ways to think about turnover. Some will tell you that turnover is bad for organizations because new hires require training, benefits packages, and startup bonuses. Meanwhile, others will tell you that turnover can be good for an organization because turnover weeds out the bad workers and infuses new blood into the workplace. So what’s the right answer? Well, like so many things in the practice of Psychology: It depends!


Wanted: Company that is Well-Endowed, Reputable, and Ethical

Topic: Diversity, Recruiting, Staffing
Publication: Journal of Business Ethics
Article: Social desirability response bias, gender, and factors influencing organizational commitment: An international study.
Author: R.A. Bernardi, S.T. Guptill
Featured by: Lit Digger

Given today’s economy, job openings are drying up. However, for those companies that DO have open positions to fill, recruiters may still find it valuable to emphasize the aspects of the company that prospective applicants are looking for. So what are some key factors that job interviewees are seeking from potential employers?


Putting Your Prettiest Foot Forward: The Role of Attractiveness in Selection

Topic: Assessment, Staffing
Publication:  International Journal of Selection and Assessment
Article: Beauty revisited: The
impact of attractiveness, ability, and personality in the assessment of
employment suitability.
Author: M.J. Tews, K. Stafford, J. Zhu
Featured by:  Benjamin Granger

Like it or not, physical attractiveness plays a role in determining certain workplace outcomes. For example, physically attractive employees (1) are often perceived to be higher in ability, (2) receive higher compensation, and (3) garner more attention in the hiring process than less attractive employees.


Problems with and Alternatives to Realistic Job Previews (RJPs)

Topic: Recruiting, Staffing
Publication: Human Resource Management
Article: Realistic recruitment practices in organizations: The potential benefits of generalized expectancy calibration
Author: B.J. Morse, P.M. Popovich
Featured by: Benjamin Granger

Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) are commonly employed by organizations and are intended to provide recruits/job applicants with realistic (both positive and some negative) information about the job/organization. Ideally, RJPs should decrease the possibility of early turnover due to unmet expectations or shocks.


The Intuition Strikes Back

Topic: AssessmentSelectionStaffing
Publication: Industrial and Org. Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice
Article:  Stubborn reliance on human nature in employee selection: statistical decision aids are evolutionarily novel.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

In a previous blog titled “Intuition vs. Science: The Battle Rages On!”, I wrote on Highhouse’s (2008) article which called attention to the disparity between research-based employee selection techniques and those actually used in organizations. Highhouse suggested that the general neglect of decision aids and overreliance on expert intuition is based on two beliefs: (1) Near-perfect precision in selecting employees is possible and (2) Intuition can be improved with experience. But as was pointed out in the blog, this is certainly not the end of the story.


Intuition vs. Science: The Battle Rages On!

Topic: Assessment, Selection, Staffing
Publication: Industrial and Org. Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice
Article: Stubborn reliance on intuition and subjectivity in employee selection.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

How do typical organizations make hiring decisions? More specifically, do employers tend to prefer selection decision aids supported by research, or do they tend to prefer the use of expert intuition?


Don’t Stress About the Job Search…Oh Wait, Maybe You Should!

Topic: Staffing, Stress
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment
Article: The joint role of locus of control and perceived financial need in job search.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

Not surprisingly, one of the most important predictors of finding employment is the intensity with which one searches for a job (Remember mom saying, “Get off the couch and go look for a job!”?).  In response to this finding, organizational researchers are investigating predictors of job-search intensity and one of these predictors is job search locus of control. Job search locus of control refers to the degree of control an individual thinks he/she has over his/her job search behaviors and outcomes.