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Recruiters’ Inferences of Applicant Personality Based on Resume Screening: Do Paper People have a Personality?

Journal of Business and Psychology, 24 (1), 2009 Volume 24, Number 1, March 2009

Michael S. Cole, Hubert S. Feild, William F. Giles and Stanley G. Harris
Published online: 28 November 2008

Abstract: Research shows recruiters infer dispositional characteristics from job applicants’ resumes and use these inferences in evaluating applicants’ employability. However, the reliability and validity of these inferences have not been empirically tested. Using data collected from 244 recruiters, we found low levels of estimated interrater reliability when they reviewed entry-level applicants’ resumes and made inferences regarding applicants’ personality traits. Moreover, when recruiters’ nferences of applicant personality were correlated with applicants’ actual Big Five personality scores, results indicated that recruiters’ inferences lacked validity, with the possible exceptions of extraversion and openness to experience. Finally, despite being largely unreliable and invalid, recruiters’ inferences of applicants’ extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness predicted the recruiters’ subsequent employability assessments of the applicants.

Keywords Personnel selection, Resumes, Recruitment, Personality

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