The Big Five in Personnel Selection: Factor Structure in Applicant and Nonapplicant Populations

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Recent personnel selection studies have focused on the 5-factor model of personality. However, the stability of this factor structure in job applicant populations has not been determined. Conceptual and empirical evidence has suggested that similar factor structures should not be assumed across testing situations that have different purposes or consequences. A study was conducted that used confirmatory factor analysis to examine the fit of the 5-factor model to NEO Five-Factor Inventory (P. T. Costa & R. R. McCrae, 1989) test data from student and applicant samples. The 5-factor structure fit the student data but did not fit the applicant data. The existence of an ideal-employee factor in the applicant sample is suggested. The findings are discussed in terms of both construct validity issues and the use of the Big Five in personnel selection.

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