Vocational interests, gender, and job performance: Two person–occupation cross-level interactions

Serena Wee, Daniel A. Newman, Q. Chelsea Song, John A. Schinka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vocational interest theories imply a person–occupation cross-level interaction effect (e.g., artistic interests predict job performance better in artistic occupations), which has rarely if ever been tested as such. Using a large military sample, we find person–occupation interest congruence effects are supported: (a) on core technical job performance for six of eight interest dimensions, and (b) on job performance ratings for structural/machines and rugged outdoors (i.e., Realistic) interests. Another cross-level interaction involves the person–occupation gender congruence effect. Our data also confirm the job performance gap favors men when in male-dominated occupations, but favors women when in gender-balanced occupations. Due to strong overlap between vocational interests and gender, we conduct a critical test of whether person–occupation interest congruence might be due to person–occupation gender congruence. In only two of six cases (i.e., rugged outdoors and administrative interests), did the person–occupation interest congruence effect disappear after controlling for the person–occupation gender congruence effect; the gender congruence effect also remained significant after controlling for the interest congruence effect. Consequently, the two cross-level interactions on job performance (for vocational interests and for gender) appear to represent distinct effects. In a second, service organization sample, the person–occupation interest congruence effect (for Realistic interests) on job performance ratings and the person–occupation gender congruence effect were both replicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-368
Number of pages46
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • gender
  • job performance
  • mutilevel model
  • person–situation interaction
  • tokenism
  • vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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