Purpose: The present study examined two theoretical explanations for why situational interviews predict work-related performance, namely (a) that they are measures of interviewees’ behavioral intentions or (b) that they are measures of interviewees’ ability to correctly decipher situational demands.
Design/Methodology/Approach: We tested these explanations with 101 students, who participated in a 2-day selection simulation.
Findings: In line with the first explanation, there was considerable similarity between what participants said they would do and their actual behavior in corresponding work-related situations. However, the underlying postulated mechanism was not supported by the data. In line with the second explanation, participants’ ability to correctly decipher situational demands was related to performance in both the interview and work-related situations. Furthermore, the relationship between the interview and performance in the work-related situations was partially explained by this ability to decipher situational demands.
Implications: Assessing interviewees’ ability to identify criteria might be of additional value for making selection decisions, particularly for jobs where it is essential to assess situational demands.
Originality/Value: The present study made an effort to open the ‘black box’ of situational interview validity by examining two explanations for their validity. The results provided only moderate support for the first explanation. However, the second explanation was fully supported by these results.