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Accomplishment Records

The accomplishment record is a systematic procedure used to collect information about applicants' training, education, experience, and past achievements related to critical job competencies. The accomplishment record is based on the behavioral consistency principle that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Applicants are typically asked to submit information on personal accomplishments to best illustrate their proficiency on critical job competencies (generally between four and eight).

Specifically, applicants are often required to provide written descriptions of what was accomplished, including detailed information about the problem or situation, the specific actions taken, and the results or outcomes achieved by those actions. The name and contact information of an individual who can verify the statements is also usually required. Accomplishments do not need to be limited to those demonstrating previous experience on the specific job in question. Rather, experience gained from other jobs or through community service, school, volunteer work, military service, or even hobbies may also be used to provide examples of accomplishments relevant to the targeted position.

Accomplishment statements are evaluated by a panel of trained raters using competency-based benchmarks created for the targeted occupation. The competency-based benchmarks typically provide specific behavioral examples of what constitutes high, medium, and low levels of proficiency. Scoring is typically based on the degree to which the behaviors and outcomes described within the accomplishments reflect the benchmark levels of proficiency. The length of the rating process, generally between two and six weeks, is determined by the number of applicants and the number of competencies being assessed. Because the accomplishment descriptions are in the form of a written narrative, the method assumes applicants are able to communicate in writing.

Variations of the traditional accomplishment record method involve the collection of alternative types of applicant proficiency or experience information. For example, applicants may be asked to complete a self-report measure by checking off job-related tasks they have performed, rating their degree of proficiency in performing job-related tasks, or rating the extent to which they possess a critical job competency. This approach is also considered a variation on the training and experience evaluation method, discussed later in this section. Often, accomplishments are later collected to support the self-reported information. In cases where an accomplishment record cannot be implemented, self-report questionnaires are sometimes used as an alternative pre-screen tool. It is important to note the validity and reliability evidence for some of these self-report measures have not been substantiated by research, and may not be comparable to levels associated with traditional accomplishment records.

Another variation of the accomplishment record is a process requiring formal verification of the statements (e.g., via references) made by applicants in their written accomplishments (and self-report information, if applicable). This technique is intended to discourage applicants from inflating or otherwise distorting their submitted accomplishment descriptions.


  • Validity - If developed properly, the critical dimensions of job performance to which applicants respond will be representative of those required for the job (i.e., they have a high degree of content validity) and scores on the assessment will relate strongly to measures of overall job performance (i.e., they have a high degree of criterion-related validity)
  • Face Validity/Applicant Reactions - Reactions from professionals who feel they should be evaluated on their experience is typically favorable; Less favorable reactions may be observed for entry-level applicants having relatively brief employment histories; When applied to entry-level positions, it is important to give credit for accomplishments gained through other than paid employment (e.g., school, volunteer work, community service); Some prospective applicants who dislike writing detailed narratives may be discouraged from applying
  • Administration Method - Can be administered individually via paper and pencil or electronically to a large group of applicants at one time
  • Subgroup Differences - Generally little or no performance differences are found between men and women or applicants of different races, although the presence of subgroup differences may depend on the specific competencies being assessed
  • Development Costs - Accomplishment records can be developed for any occupation within two to four weeks, depending on the number of dimensions measured; Time and cost requirements are associated mainly with benchmark development, scoring procedures, and rater training
  • Administration Costs - Highly time consuming for applicants to complete and the scoring may be more time consuming compared to other assessment methods with clear right or wrong answers (e.g., job knowledge tests); The length of the rating process depends on the number of applicants and competencies measured
  • Utility/ROI - High return on investment for managerial, professional, or other jobs where applicants may prefer to be evaluated on the basis of their actual work experience rather than an impersonal, standardized test; Investment of time and effort to develop and administer may not be worthwhile in situations where applicant reactions to traditional tests are not a concern
  • Common Uses - Commonly used when negative applicant reactions to traditional tests or test "look-alikes" such as biodata are expected; Also commonly used as a screening device prior to an interview


(See Section VI for a summary of each article)

Hough, L. M. (1984). Development and evaluation of the "accomplishment record" method of selecting and promoting professionals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69(1), 135-146.

Hough, L. M., Keyes, M. A., & Dunnette, M. D. (1983). An evaluation of three "alternative" selection procedures. Personnel Psychology, 36(2), 261-276.

Sackett, P. R., Schmitt, N., Ellingson, J. E., & Kabin, M. B. (2001). High-stakes testing in employment, credentialing, and higher education: Prospects in a post-affirmative-action world. American Psychologist, 56(4), 302-318.

Schmidt, F. L., Caplan, J. R., Bemis, S. E., Decuir, R., Dunn, L., & Antone, L. (1979). The behavioral consistency method of unassembled examining. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Personnel Resources and Development Center.

Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 262-274.

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