On the Limitations of Using Situational Judgment Tests to Measure Interpersonal Skills: The Moderating Influence of Employee Anger


  • We are grateful to Quinn McCarthy and Jennifer Anderson for their assistance with data collection. We also thank the I-O psychologists who assisted us by providing ratings of SJT items in Study 1. Portions of these data were presented at the 25th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Atlanta, Georgia in 2010.


Many authors have suggested that situational judgment tests (SJTs) are useful tools for assessing applicants because SJT items can be written to assess a number of job-related knowledges, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs). However, SJTs may not be appropriate for measuring certain KSAOs for some applicants. We posit that using SJTs to measure interpersonal skills may lead to invalid inferences about applicants with higher levels of angry hostility (AH), and thus, AH should moderate the relation between interpersonally oriented SJTs and job performance. Three studies, using samples of healthcare workers (n = 225), police officers (n = 54), and medical doctors (n = 92), provided support for hypotheses in that that relations between SJT scores and performance criteria were significantly weaker among employees higher in AH compared to those lower in AH. In addition, none of the other facets of neuroticism tested (self-consciousness, anxiety, depression, immoderation, or vulnerability to stress) consistently moderated SJT validity, providing support for the uniqueness of AH. Implications for practice, and for future research studying the relations between interpersonal skills as measured by SJTs and job performance, are discussed.