This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Candidate Reactions to Three Assessment Center Exercises: A Field Study




Becton, J.

Type of Degree





Following a multidimensional procedural justice framework, the current study examined the reactions of candidates completing an assessment center for promotion within a police department. The main purpose of this research was to examine the reactions of actual job candidates to a situational interview, a writing sample, and role-play exercises comprising an assessment center used to make actual promotion decisions. It was hypothesized that candidates would have different reactions to different types of assessment center exercises based on the distinct characteristics of each exercise. Additionally, this study examined the antecedents of applicant reactions to selection devices by examining the relationship of candidates’ test-taking motivation, attitude towards testing, race, organizational tenure, level of target position, and evaluative history with exercise performance and selection procedural justice perceptions. It was hypothesized that these variables interact to affect exercise performance and/or selection procedural justice perceptions. A total of 173 candidates agreed to participate in this study after completing the situational interview, writing sample, and role-play exercises. Candidate reactions to each assessment center exercise were collected immediately after completion of the devices via surveys. Perceptions of selection procedural justice, attitude toward testing, test-taking motivation, exercise experience, and evaluative history were measured, and the reactions of candidates of different races, experience levels, and organizational levels were compared. Analyses revealed that candidates did not differ significantly in perceptions of job-relatedness, opportunity to perform, and consistency of administration according to the type of exercise. However, candidates viewed the situational interview more positively in terms of information known compared to the writing sample. Also, this study revealed that level of target position was negatively associated with opportunity to perform and test-taking motivation, but positively associated with information known. Additionally, the results indicated that evaluative history was negatively related to perceptions of opportunity to perform and attitude towards testing and level of target position was negatively related to opportunity to perform and test-taking motivation and positively related to information known. Results also revealed that African-American and White candidates viewed the situational interview, role-play exercises, and writing sample similarly. However, African-American candidates in this sample reported more favorable perceptions of job-relatedness, opportunity to perform, and test-taking motivation in comparison with White candidates. Implications and directions for future research on reactions to testing are discussed.