[We’re pleased to welcome Talya Bauer of Portland State University. Talya recently published an article in Group & Organization Management with co-authors Udo Konradt, Yvonne Garbers, Martina Boge, and Berrin Erdogan, entitled “Antecedents and Consequences of Fairness Perceptions in Personnel Selection: A 3-Year Longitudinal Study”]
- So just what are applicant reactions and why should you care?
Applicant reactions refer to a class of perceptions that job applicants experience as they go through the selection process. It is posited that how employees feel about the job application process, and particularly their perceptions of fair treatment, relate to outcomes organizations care about, such as a lower likelihood of withdrawing one’s candidacy, more positive attitudes toward the employer, accepting the job offer, referring others to apply to the company, purchasing a company’s products, and lower likelihood of employment-related lawsuits.
In terms of research, applicant reactions really began in the 1980s. The topic gained traction in the 1990’s after the publication of Stephen Gilliland’s (1993) classic theory article on the topic. Following this model, and others which emerged around this time, researchers began studying the topic and found that procedural justice (aka the fairness of the processes used to make decisions) and distributive justice (aka the fairness of what outcome you get) influenced how attractive employers were seen and how likely job candidates said they were to refer the employer to others and to take a job with the employer if offered one.
The following decade included a bit of a backlash against applicant reactions research with scholars debating how much it mattered and how long the effects of applicant reactions actually last. It was not until 2013 when we started to see strong evidence that applicant reactions do matter beyond pre-entry attitudes. McCarthy and colleagues (2013) found that reactions affected test scores which in turn influenced job performance in a variety of settings using both predictive and concurrent designs. However, it still was not clear that there was a direct relationship between applicant reactions and on-the-job performance.
A current study, “Antecedents and consequences of procedural justice perceptions in personnel selection: A three-year longitudinal study” by Udo Konradt, Yvonne Garbers, Martina Weber of the University of Kiel and two of us (Berrin Erdogan and Talya Bauer), which is in press at Group & Organization Management followed job candidates for an apprenticeship program of a large German industrial firm across three years. What was found was fascinating. Perceptions of fairness that applicants felt during the testing and hiring process related to job offer acceptance as well as job performance at 18 months. At 36 months post-entry, no relationship existed. Performance included both written job knowledge and performing specific job tasks. This finding is consistent with work on new employee socialization which finds that different perceptions and aspects of adjustment matter differentially over time (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011).
- So, what does this mean for employers and researchers?
Labor markets ebb and flow but what does not change is the competition for the best talent available. These individuals are always in demand and early applicant reactions research finds that it is the best applicants for whom applicant reactions matter the most. For example, Rynes and colleagues (1991) found that when applicants did not hear back from employers, it was the strongest applicants who had the most negative reactions. In total, we now know that applicant reactions matter across the job search spectrum as well as beyond. At least for apprentices, on-the-job performance was related to perceptions of fairness 18 months earlier. This opens up the door for researchers to continue to examine the larger constellation of factors associated with applicant reactions. It also offers a lever for organizations to enhance the perception of their employment brand and selection systems by systematically working through the types of procedural justice factors that matter to improve their brand.
You can read “Antecedents and Consequences of Fairness Perceptions in Personnel Selection: A 3-Year Longitudinal Study” from Group & Organization Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Group & Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!
Bauer, T. N., & Erdogan, B. (2011). Organizational socialization: The effective onboarding of new employees. In S. Zedeck, H. Aguinis, W. Cascio, M. Gelfand, K. Leung, S. Parker, & J. Zhou (Eds.). APA Handbook of I/O Psychology, Volume III, pp. 51-64. Washington, DC: APA Press.
Chan, D., & Schmitt, N. (2004). An agenda for future research on applicant reactions to selection procedures: A construct-oriented approach. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 12, 9-23.
Gilliland, S. J. (1993) The perceived fairness of selection systems: An organizational justice perspective. Academy of Management Review, 18, 694-734.
McCarthy, J. M., Van Iddekinge, C. H., Lievens, F., Kung, M.-C., Sinar, E. F., & Campion, M. A. (2013). Do candidate reactions relate to job performance or affect criterion-related validity? A multistudy investigation of relations among reactions, selection test scores, and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 701-719.
Ryan, A. M., & Ployhart, R. E. (2000). Applicants’ perceptions of selection procedures and decisions. Journal of Management, 26, 565-606.
Rynes, S. L., Bretz, R. D., & Gerhart, B. (1991). The importance of recruiting in job choice: A different way of looking. Personnel Psychology, 44, 487-521.
Talya N. Bauer (Ph.D., Purdue University) is the Cameron Professor of Management and Affiliated Professor of Psychology at Portland State University. She is an award-winning teacher and researcher and recipient of the SIOP Distinguished Teaching Award as well as the Academy of Management Human Resource division’s Innovations in Teaching Award. She conducts research about relationships at work including recruitment, applicant reactions to selection, onboarding, and leadership. Her work has been supported by grants from both the SHRM and SIOP Foundations and has been published in research outlets such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Learning and Education Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Personnel Psychology. She has worked with dozens of government, Fortune 1000, and start-up organizations and has been a Visiting Scholar in France, Spain, and at Google Headquarters. She has served in elected positions including the HRM Executive Committee of the Academy of Management and Member-at-Large for SIOP. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology (and is the former Editor of Journal of Management). Her work has been discussed in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She is a fellow of the SIOP, the American Psychological Association, and Association for Psychological Science.
Berrin Erdogan (Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago) is Express Employment Professionals Professor of Management and Affiliated Professor of Psychology at Portland State University. She conducts studies exploring factors that lead to engagement, well-being, effectiveness, and retention in the workplace, with a focus on manager-employee relationships and underemployment. These studies took place in a variety of industries including manufacturing, clothing and food retail, banking, health care, education, and information technology in the USA, Turkey, India, China, France, and Vietnam. Her work appeared in journals including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Personnel Psychology and has been discussed in media outlets including the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Oregonian. Dr. Erdogan has been a visiting scholar in Koç University (Istanbul, Turkey), ALBA Business School at the American College of Greece, and University of Valencia (Spain). In addition to serving on numerous editorial boards, she currently serves as an Associate Editor for Personnel Psychology, served as an Associate Editor for European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology and is the co-editor of the forthcoming title Oxford Handbook of Leader-Member Exchange. She is a fellow of SIOP.
Udo Konradt is full professor of work, organizational, and market psychology at Kiel University, Germany. He holds a doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Bochum. He has published on information systems and Human Resource Management issues in several academic journals.
Yvonne Garbers is an assistant professor at Kiel University, Germany. She holds a PhD in work and organizational psychology (Kiel University). Her current research interests include (destructive) leadership, shared leadership, team-member exchange, and work-family interference.
Martina Boge finished her Major studies in Psychology at the University of Leipzig. She has worked as consultant and human resource manager for several years.
Julie M. McCarthy (Ph.D., Western University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Julie’s research examines how organizations can ensure that their policies and practices are viewed favorably by job applicants and employees. She also investigates strategies that individuals can use to reduce anxiety, build resilience and achieve success in their work and home lives. Her work is published in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Psychological Science, as well as book chapters in the influential Oxford Handbook Series. Her work is generously supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her research contributions. Julie’s work has also received a considerable amount of media attention. In the corporate sector, Julie has developed leadership resilience programs, performance management systems and personnel selection tools on behalf public and private corporations.