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Journal of Applied Psychology

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COVID-19 Pandemic (2020- ) -- United States -- Psychological Impacts


Employers have increasingly turned to virtual interviews to facilitate online, socially distanced selection processes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is little understanding about the experience of job candidates in these virtual interview contexts. We draw from Event System Theory (Morgeson et al., 2015) to advance and test a conceptual model that focuses on a high-stress, high-stakes setting and integrates literatures on workplace stress with literatures on applicant reactions. We predict that when applicants ruminate about COVID-19 during an interview and have higher levels of COVID-19 exhaustion, they will have higher levels of anxiety during virtual interviews, which in turn relates to reduced interview performance, lower perceptions of fairness, and reduced intentions to recommend the organization. Further, we predict that three factors capturing COVID-19 as an enduring and impactful event (COVID-19 duration, COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 deaths) will be positively related to COVID-19 exhaustion. We tested our propositions with 8,343 job applicants across 373 companies and 93 countries/regions. Consistent with predictions, we found a positive relationship between COVID-19 rumination and interview anxiety, and this relationship was stronger for applicants who experienced higher (vs. lower) levels of COVID-19 exhaustion. In turn, interview anxiety was negatively related to interview performance, fairness perceptions, and recommendation intentions. Moreover, using a relevant subset of the data (n = 6,136), we found that COVID-19 duration and deaths were positively related to COVID-19 exhaustion. This research offers several insights for understanding the virtual interview experience embedded in the pandemic and advances the literature on applicant reactions.


This is the author’s version of a work. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(8), 1103–1117.



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