Disregarding Preliminary Information When Rating Job Applicants' Performance: Mission Impossible?1


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    The research reported in this article was made possible by grants from the Israel Foundation Trustees (2002–2004); the Levi Eshkol Institute for Social, Economic, and Political Research in Israel; the Minerva Center for Human Rights; the Hebrew University Faculty of Law; and the Harvey L. Silbert Center for Israel Studies. The authors are grateful for the helpful comments of Maya Bar-Hillel, Gideon Keren, Amnon Rapoport, Ilana Ritov, and Yaacov Schul. Segments of this work were presented at the 19th Subjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making conference; the 9th Behavioral Decision Research in Management conference; Fuqua Business School, Duke University; and the 25th Society for Judgment and Decision Making conference. The article is based on the doctoral dissertation of the first author.

Talya Miron-Shatz, 314 Wallace Hall, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1013. E-mail: tmiron@princeton.edu


Firms allocate considerable resources to test job applicants' skills and to ensure that hiring decisions are nondiscriminatory. Interpreting selection output in light of preliminary information may undermine the impartiality of personnel selection decisions. In this study, human resource managers were presented preliminary information about a candidate's performance and asked to rate him according to a detailed assessment-center report of his performance. We examined several interventions for reducing reliance on preliminary information: retrieving assessment-center information, generating a rating model, or both. Participants (N = 167) excluded preliminary information from the interventions, but relied on it when rating the candidate. The documented failure to control for the effects of preliminary information on subsequent judgments can contribute to improved selection procedures.