PhD position Optimizing performance prediction and selection in the military


Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences


Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, University of Groningen, V23.0786

Job description

Which psychological and physical skills are most predictive of later military performance? Recruiting, selecting, and developing individuals with the right skillset is of utmost importance for the military. But, how can we determine the “right” skillset, and what is the best way to assess the relevant skills? In this project, the PhD candidate will closely collaborate with the Special Forces of the Royal Dutch Army to work on these questions. Important tasks are collecting data using psychological and physical tests with (candidate) commandos, determining the quality of these tests, and establishing statistical models integrating psychological and physical factors that are predictive of later performance. The results are a basis for academic journal publications and translated into useful tools and insights for the military, so that selection and development of commandos can be improved. The PhD project will be carried out at the Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, and will be embedded in the Centre of Expertise for Talent Development. Given the close collaboration with the military, the PhD candidate will also regularly visit the training base of the commandos.

In general, the tasks of the PhD candidate are:

- conducting research that results in a dissertation, in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
- organizing and conducting data collection and analysis for the different studies at the Special Forces unit of the Royal Netherlands Army
- publishing the results of the research in international scientific journals
- presenting the research findings to fellow scientists, as well as stakeholders at the Royal Netherlands Army
- communicating and collaborating with the performance and recruitment and selection staff of the Special Forces Unit
- contributing to teaching at the Psychology department (roughly 15% of the appointment), such as small-scale practicals and supervising master students participating in the project, in collaboration with the supervisors.

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Quality has had top priority for four hundred years, and with success: the University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences excels in teaching and research in the fields of human behaviour, thinking, learning, and how people live together. We work on societal issues and problems that people experience in daily life. Central to this is individual and societal resilience and how to increase this. To this end, we focus on the topics of migration, the environment and climate, health, upbringing and education, the protection of vulnerable minorities, and sustainable partnerships. The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences employs over 800 staff members. For more information about the Faculty please check the link

The Department of Psychology within this faculty, and specifically the Centre of Expertise for Talent Development, has a strong (inter)national reputation with regard to its research on the selection and development of talent across domains (e.g., sports, education, military). Connected to this, the department offers the international MSc. Program “Talent Development and Creativity”, in which students learn the latest skills and knowledge to select and develop talent and creativity across achievement contexts. For more information about the expertise center, check this link, and for more information about the MSc. Program, check this link.


For this position you are expected to:

- have a (research) master's degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences (e.g., Psychology), or Movement Sciences, or Computer/data science (or a related discipline)
- have a good academic track record
- have expertise or an affinity with statistics, psychometrics, data science, and/or programming
- be enthusiastic about writing international publications and a dissertation
- have good academic English writing skills
- have good social and communication skills and are willing to work with other team members at the university and the Army Special Forces
- be enthusiastic about translating scientific insights into practical guidelines and advice
- have good organizational skills and the motivation to organize and realize data collection and analysis
- have competences as conceptual capacity, presenting, planning and organizing and monitoring
- have a good command of the Dutch language, or willingness to learn Dutch on short term.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

- a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
- a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
- attractive secondary terms of employment
- the position is classified in accordance with the University Job Classification (UFO) system; the UFO profile is PhD candidate
- a temporary employment of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be employed for a period of one year. After a positive result and development interview, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of three years.

Intended starting date: March 1st 2024.

Job Application

You can apply for this position until 9 January 23:59 Dutch Local Time (CET) / before 10 January 2024. Only submissions via the digital application form will be considered. Your application should include, merged in one pdf file: - letter of motivation (1 page) - CV (including contact information for at least two academic references. Note that reference letters are not needed) - individual mark sheets (BSc. and MSc. Program). The selection interviews will take place on January 24th 2024. The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen. Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. dr Ruud J.R. den Hartigh, research unit Developmental Psychology

Dr. Susan Niessen, research unit Psychometrics and Statistics

In your application, please always include the job opening ID V23.0786

Digital application form