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Effects of Applicant Reactions on Individual and Organizational Outcomes

The effects on ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ outcomes

Truxillo, Steiner and Gilliland (2004) note that outcomes of applicant reactions can be broken down into ‘soft’ outcomes, that is, attitudes and behaviour proximal to the hiring procedure, and ‘hard’ outcomes that occur later, on the job. This classification continues to be useful, with the most consistent effects of applicant reactions on a number of ‘soft’ outcomes. Here we provide a general overview of the effects of applicant reactions on a range of outcomes, although we also point the reader to detailed meta-analyses and reviews (Hausknech et al., 2004; Truxillo & Bauer, 2011; Truxillo, Bauer, McCarthy, Anderson & Ahmed, in press; Truxillo, Steiner & Gilliland, 2004).

One of the early promises of applicant reactions models was that job applicants’ perceptions of the selection process might affect their later attitudes and behaviour on the job if they were hired. Truxillo, Steiner and Gilliland (2004) referred to these as ‘hard’ outcomes. For the most part, these types of outcome have not been found to be affected by applicant reactions, at least for external job applicants (see Gilliland, 1994, for a laboratory study that suggests the relation between reactions and job performance). For example, Truxillo, Bauer, Campion and Paronto (2002) found that while providing police officer candidates with a fairness explanation did affect their fairness perceptions, it did not affect their later turnover during the training period. One of the explanations for this lack of results is that these on-the-job outcomes are too distal from the hiring process to be affected by applicant reactions. In other words, how a person is treated in the hiring process is less likely to affect their job attitudes six months after they are hired; rather, job satisfaction is likely to be affected by other factors more proximal to the actual job situation, such as characteristics of the job and treatment by the supervisor. However, it is notable that recent research (Harold et al., 2015) has found a relationship between justice perceptions and job offer acceptance (see below). Moreover, it is important to note that applicant reactions may affect these ‘hard’ outcomes among promotional candidates (Ambrose & Cropanzano, 2003), an issue we discuss as an avenue for future research.

In the sections that follow, we describe the effects of reactions on outcomes that are relevant to the organization versus those that are relevant to the individual applicant.

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