Are you interested? A meta-analysis of relations between vocational interests and employee performance and turnover


A common belief among researchers is that vocational interests have limited value for personnel selection. However, no comprehensive quantitative summaries of interests validity research have been conducted to substantiate claims for or against the use of interests. To help address this gap, we conducted a meta-analysis of relations between interests and employee performance and turnover using data from 74 studies and 141 independent samples. Overall validity estimates (corrected for measurement error in the criterion but not for range restriction) for single interest scales were .14 for job performance, .26 for training performance, -.19 for turnover intentions, and -.15 for actual turnover. Several factors appeared to moderate interest-criterion relations. For example, validity estimates were larger when interests were theoretically relevant to the work performed in the target job. The type of interest scale also moderated validity, such that corrected validities were larger for scales designed to assess interests relevant to a particular job or vocation (e.g., .23 for job performance) than for scales designed to assess a single, job-relevant realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional (i.e., RIASEC) interest (.10) or a basic interest (.11). Finally, validity estimates were largest when studies used multiple interests for prediction, either by using a single job or vocation focused scale (which tend to tap multiple interests) or by using a regression-weighted composite of several RIASEC or basic interest scales. Overall, the results suggest that vocational interests may hold more promise for predicting employee performance and turnover than researchers may have thought. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Psychology