The psychological impact of a personnel selection process on applicants of English speaking and non-English speaking backgrounds

2017-02-28T04:53:23Z (GMT) by Stevens, Brigitta Linda
The central focus of applicant reactions research has been applicant’s perceptions of fairness and related organisational outcomes. Limited research has examined the psychological impact of selection process participation, and the related personal outcomes. Research which has considered applicant wellbeing has assessed the impact of attending assessment centres rather than more commonly used selection procedures, such as psychological testing. The current study using a graduating sample (N = 120) sought to explore the psychological impact of selection process participation. Psychological impact was operationalised as the direct affect that taking part in a selection process, the procedures involved, and the subsequent outcome had on an applicant’s wellbeing. The influences of selection procedure type and language background on wellbeing were also examined. The present study hypothesised that wellbeing as measured by one’s test taking self-efficacy, general self-efficacy, satisfaction with life, and positive and negative affect would change across three separate time periods (Time 1. before a selection interview, Time 2. after a selection procedure, and Time 3. after receiving a selection decision). Language background, procedure type and selection decision were hypothesised to moderate any change found. Language background was additionally hypothesised to influence an applicant’s performance on the ability test. Once recruited, graduating students participated in a simulated selection process. Each applicant was randomly selected into one of four groups: 1) interview + cognitive ability testing, 2) interview + personality testing, 3) interview + cognitive ability plus personality testing, and 4) interview only. A longitudinal design was utilised, with participants completing questionnaires at the three time periods. Results suggested that there was a significant change in an applicant’s wellbeing from before commencing a selection process to after receiving a selection decision. The extent of the change was found to depend on the type of selection procedures completed, as well as the final selection decision (whether the applicant was selected or rejected). Wellbeing was not affected by an applicant’s language background, nor was there a difference on ability test scores between language background groups. The present study lends support to the notion that an applicant’s psychological health and future testing performance can be bolstered or harmed by participating in an employment selection process. Organisations and applicants should be made aware of the impact in order to overcome the potential negative effects.