Explanations Can Leave a Sweet Taste in Job Applicants’ Mouths

Topic: Organizational Justice, Selection
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (DEC 2009)
ArticleEffects of explanations on applicant reactions: A meta-analytic review
Authors: D.M. Truxillo, T.E. Bodner, M. Bertolino, T.N. Bauer, and C.A. Yonce
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Oftentimes, job applicants run a gauntlet of various selection tests, assessments, and interviews and it is important to understand how they affect applicants’ reactions toward the organization. Providing job applicants with explanations for the various selection procedures is a cost-effective and easily implemented intervention. Additionally, according to Truxillo and colleagues’ meta-analysis, explanations can positively impact applicants’ reactions toward the employment process and organization as a whole.

Firstly, Truxillo et al. found that explanations have a positive impact on job applicants’ fairness perceptions (e.g., how fair they perceive the selection process to be) and perceptions of the organization as a whole. Explanations were also found to have a more favorable impact on the fairness perceptions of personality employment tests as compared to cognitive ability employment tests (although this relationship is still favorable).

Interestingly, explanations have a positive effect on job applicant motivation which positively impacts job applicants’ cognitive ability test scores. Finally, Truxillo contrasted college student samples with real job applicant samples and found that the relationship between explanations and outcomes tends to be stronger for non-student samples (i.e., “real world” situations).

Ultimately, there is little doubt that organizations should be concerned with job applicants’ reactions to the employment process. Truxillo and colleagues’ findings are encouraging because they suggest that providing explanations to applicants during the employment process is cheap, fast, and effective at improving job applicants’ reactions.

Truxillo, D.M., Bodner, M., Bertolino, T.N., Bauer, T.N., & Yonce, C.A. (2009).  Effects of explanations on applicant reactions: A meta-analytic review. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 17(4), 346-361.