Assessing job applications – Are references of youth camp leadership a valid selection criterion?

by Nina Reinhardt & Uwe Peter Kanning (Hochschule Osnabrück)

When reviewing job applications, factors such as biographical aspects are still prevalent, even though the validity is often uncertain. This study endeavours to examine this validity concerning youth travel guides. It examines to what extent leadership of a youth camp − more specifically leading travel groups consisting of children and adolescents – might be a meaningful indication for the o so-called “big five”. 358 travel guides were interviewed using an online questionnaire. Compared to a general population study sample, female tourist guides scored significantly higher on the scales extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness as well as significantly lower on neuroticism and openness than non-travel guide counterparts. Male tourist guides showed significantly higher values for extraversion and significantly lower scores on neuroticism. The extent of experience as a tour guide correlated only marginally with the distinctiveness of the personality traits. The results indicate that the travel guide profession – with reservations − is a valid criterion when reviewing job applications.

key words: personnel selection – application documents – biographical data

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