Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Personnel Psychology, Spring 2010: SJTs, affect, and job offer timing

The Spring 2010 (v.63, #1) issue of Personnel Psychology is out. Let's look at the highlights:

First out of the gate, a great meta-analysis for anyone interested in situational judgment tests (SJTs; and who isn't?). Christian, et al. looked at 84 studies and found some pretty interesting things:

1) SJTs reported in the literature have been used to measure a variety of things, including leadership skills (37%), some type of composite (33%), interpersonal skills (12.5%), personality tendencies (9.6%), teamwork skills (4.4%) and job knowledge/skills (3%).

2) Criterion-related validity depends--as you might expect--on the match between predictor and performance measure. Conscientiousness measures, for example, predicted task performance much better than managerial performance (rho=.39 and .06 respectively). The highest correlations (albeit based on relatively small samples) were for teamwork skills and personality composites predicting task performance (.50 and .45 respectively).

3) Video-based SJTs tended to have stronger criterion-related validity values compared to paper-based measures. This was particularly true when measuring interpersonal skills (.47 compared to .27).

Second, a small but interesting study by Johnson, et al. on the relationship between trait affect (i.e., being generally disposed to feeling positive or negative emotions) and job performance. Results from 120 matched employee-supervisor pairs from a variety of jobs using both explicit (survey) and implicit (word fragment completion) measures of affect found substantial correlations, particularly between positive affect and performance (in the .50 range), and particularly when using implicit measures.

Something to add to a selection battery, perhaps? Could be perceived negatively by applicants, however, and I can see some questions being raised about the link to medical issues. But the same types of concerns were originally leveled at personality tests and were mitigated by creating measures specifically tied to work behavior. Definitely an area for more research.

Third, check out this study by Becker, et al. on the impact that job offer timing has on acceptance, performance and turnover. The authors found (using data from a Fortune 500 engineering technology company) that for both student and experienced samples, faster offers were associated with higher acceptance rates. Specifically, for experienced candidates, the difference between 2 weeks and 3 weeks taken to make the offer was substantial, whereas for the students 3 weeks versus 4 weeks was important. But, no differences were found in terms of either performance ratings or turnover among employees hired through different offer speeds.

Implication? The study suggests that offer time does impact the likelihood that the offer will be accepted, but viewed broadly this may not have long-term impacts in terms of how employees do on the job. Maybe in cases of good candidate-employer fit, candidates are willing to wait.

Last but not least are the book reviews. Two books are particularly relevant for us, The Structured Interview (Pettersen & Durivage) and Outliers (Gladwell). The first is received very positively and sounds like a great source for anyone wanting more details about the support for and use of structured interviews. The latter is "well worth [a] few evenings" but requires you to overlook the lack of evidence and convenient inferences.

Final notes: those of you interested in multisource performance ratings should check out Hoffman, et al.'s article, which reinforces the impact of having raters from different levels. Chuang and Liao's article also includes a useful measure of a high-performance work system.

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