Employment Qualifications, Person-Job Fit, Overqualification Attributions, and Hiring Recommendations: A Three-Study Investigation

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International Journal of Selection and Assessment




Using an experimental design across three studies and four samples, we investigated the effects of employment qualification level (i.e., underqualified, adequately qualified, or overqualified) on hiring recommendations, and how the relationship was influenced by person–job (P-J) fit and underemployment attributions. In Study 1, we tested and found support for the strength and effectiveness of the employment qualification level manipulation. In Study 2, the results demonstrated that overqualified applicants received higher ratings on objective P-J fit, subjective P-J fit, and hiring recommendations than underqualified applicants. Also, overqualified applicants were rated higher on objective and subjective P-J fit than adequately qualified applicants. However, the results indicated no significant differences between adequately qualified and overqualified applicants on hiring recommendations. Finally, P-J fit was found to fully mediate the employment qualification level–hiring recommendation relationship, but only subjective P-J fit (i.e., and not objective P-J fit) was a significant mediator. In Study 3, we assessed the potential effects of underemployment attribution (i.e., internal-controllable vs. external-uncontrollable) on interviewer hiring recommendation. Results demonstrated that applicants who made an external-uncontrollable attribution for their overqualification were perceived negatively and received lower ratings on hiring recommendations than applicants who made an internal-controllable attribution for their underemployment. Furthermore, the underemployment attribution-hiring recommendation relationship was found to be fully mediated by subjective (but not objective) P-J fit. Contributions of these results to theory, research, and practice, strengths and limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.