Personnel Selection Bias for Job Applicants with Cancer


Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to James E. Bordieri, Rehabilitation Institute, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901.


Selection evaluations for job applicants with a history of cancer were experimentally explored. One hundred and thirty-two supervisors and mid-level managers reviewed the cover letter and resume of an applicant with a medical condition and the job description for a simulated position. The type of the applicant's cancer was systematically manipulated in the cover letter to represent cancers with varying 5-year survival rates. Attribution of responsibility for the disability, perceived qualifications, and the recommendation to hire were assessed. Regardless of qualifications, participants made lower hiring recommendations for the applicants with cancer of the colon, pancreas, bone, and thyroid when compared to an applicant with pneumonia. Presumed personal blame for the disability was also found to be negatively related to the hiring recommendation.