Impact of Selection Encounters on Applicants: An Experimental Study into Feedback Effects after a Negative Selection Desision



This study investigates the role of feedback in minimizing the psychological impact of a negative selection decision on job applicants. The method and findings of a laboratory experiment into participants’ reactions to rejection, combined with feedback on this decision as well as perceptions of procedural and distributive fairness, are discussed. Participants in the experiment (N = 119) were asked to complete two GMA-tests and were told they had to belong to the 20% best performers to be invited for a selection interview. Upon completion, all participants received a rejection message, supposedly based on their performance scores on the two tests. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two feedback conditions: either a mere rejection message, or a rejection message including performance feedback. Analyses revealed that core self-evaluations and affective well-being of rejected participants receiving performance feedback significantly decreased compared to that of participants in the mere rejection message condition. Furthermore, it was found that procedural fairness perceptions interacted with feedback on participants’ core self-evaluations, while distributive fairness perceptions interacted with feedback on affective well-being. These findings raise the question whether performance feedback following a negative selection decision is as advantageous as generally assumed. Implications for giving feedback in rejection situations are discussed in the conclusion.  


Schinkel, S., Van Dierendonck, D., & Anderson, N. (2004). The impact of selection encounters on applicants: An experimental study into feedback effects after a negative selection decision. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 12(1-2), 197-205.