Biographical data, or biodata, are measures of key aspects of job applicants’ life experiences intended to predict their future performance in organizations, whether that performance is reflected by task-specific job performance, teamwork, or counterproductive behaviors such as routine lateness or even sabotage. Although biodata can be developed to measure a wide array of experiences and psychological constructs, the fundamental and general premises underlying the predictive power of biodata measures are that

  • individuals in free societies shape their life experiences, and they also are shaped by them;
  • this process of reciprocal influence between personality and situations occurs over a large time span; and therefore,
  • measures of past experience should predict future work behavior, especially given a relatively unconstrained environment where employees’ typical performance can be wide ranging.

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