Evaluating candidate reactions to selection practices using organisational justice theory

Med Educ. 2011 Mar;45(3):289-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03808.x.


Objectives: This study aimed to examine candidate reactions to selection practices in postgraduate medical training using organisational justice theory.

Methods: We carried out three independent cross-sectional studies using samples from three consecutive annual recruitment rounds. Data were gathered from candidates applying for entry into UK general practice (GP) training during 2007, 2008 and 2009. Participants completed an evaluation questionnaire immediately after the short-listing stage and after the selection centre (interview) stage. Participants were doctors applying for GP training in the UK. Main outcome measures were participants' evaluations of the selection methods and perceptions of the overall fairness of each selection stage (short-listing and selection centre).

Results: A total of 23,855 evaluation questionnaires were completed (6893 in 2007, 10,497 in 2008 and 6465 in 2009). Absolute levels of perceptions of fairness of all the selection methods at both the short-listing and selection centre stages were consistently high over the 3years. Similarly, all selection methods were considered to be job-related by candidates. However, in general, candidates considered the selection centre stage to be significantly fairer than the short-listing stage. Of all the selection methods, the simulated patient consultation completed at the selection centre stage was rated as the most job-relevant.

Conclusions: This is the first study to use a model of organisational justice theory to evaluate candidate reactions during selection into postgraduate specialty training. The high-fidelity selection methods are consistently viewed as more job-relevant and fairer by candidates. This has important implications for the design of recruitment systems for all specialties and, potentially, for medical school admissions. Using this approach, recruiters can systematically compare perceptions of the fairness and job relevance of various selection methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Choice
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel Selection / methods*
  • Personnel Selection / standards
  • Personnel Selection / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Justice / psychology
  • Social Justice / standards*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • United Kingdom