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A Study Exploring the Hiring Manager’s Perception of Personality Assessments in Pilot Selection

Byrne, Linda (2014) A Study Exploring the Hiring Manager’s Perception of Personality Assessments in Pilot Selection. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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The aviation industry is changing due to ‘economical, technical and societal’ influences (Hoermann, Kissing and Zierke, 2009, p.1). Pilot recruitment is experiencing substantial growth, resulting in selection systems being the target of ‘continuous process improvement and cost-benefit analysis plans’ (Damos, 2014, p.99). Traditionally, pilot selection focused heavily on results from the ‘test battery’ that included ability and personality assessments. The test battery was created as a result of a job analysis that identified the key skills and attributes of the ideal candidate.

A gap in literature has been identified pertaining to ‘stable personality traits that can affect performance in pilots’ (Fitzgibbons, Davis and Schutte, 2004). There is a renewed focus on the possibility of personality assessments having the ability to predict performance. Motowidlo, Borman and Schmit (1997) describe the theory of job performance as ‘behavioral, episodic, evaluative and multidimensional’ (p.1). They define occupational performance as ‘the aggregated value to the organisation of the discrete behavioral episodes that an individual performs over a standard interval of time’ (p.1).

To address the problem regarding personality and it’s affect on performance a qualitative approach was taken to conduct ten semi-structured interviews with pilot hiring managers who have used personality assessments in selection. The aim is to compare their experience and knowledge of personality traits that are predictive of performance in a multi-crew environment with a view to creating a model of personality traits associated with high performing pilots. McCrae and Costa (1985) Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality has been chosen to base the discussion on and provide a general taxonomy for the language used to describe personality. Street and Helton (1993) confirm that the FFM has universally been identified as the best model for pilot selection by many researchers. The study will also explore the issue of social response distortion (SRD) or faking as it is referred to in self-reported personality assessment.

This study confirms personality assessment has a greater perceived predictive validity than that quoted in literature and is given equal weighting to cognitive ability amongst hiring managers once the essential criteria has been met. The findings suggest that there is no single ‘pilot personality’ and that employee fit is just as important as personality type. The study identified a model of essential pilot personality traits that were linked to performance from the hiring manager’s perspective. The findings also confirmed that SRD (faking) does not appear to invalidate the psychometric properties of the assessment and the FFM is a robust model on which to base pilot selection.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > Specific Industries > Aviation Industry
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > Industrial Psychology
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Arts in Human Resource Management
Depositing User: Claire Wallnutt
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 13:45
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2014 13:45

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