In recent years, test motivation has attracted increasing attention because of its potential impact on test performance and test validity. Most studies have focused on consequences of test motivation. In contrast, the present study provides an examination of situational antecedents of applicants' test motivation. It is examined how explaining the assessment procedure to applicants and using face valid tests, impact upon applicants' test motivation and performance. A field experiment was conducted. Participants were 143 senior-year students, who were participating in an entrance examination for a commercial engineering job at a large national organization. Results revealed that giving ample information about the selection procedure, as well as using face valid tests, both motivate candidates to perform well on a cognitive ability test. Furthermore, test motivation partially mediated the relationship between face validity and test performance. Given that test motivation relates to behavioral outcomes, among which test performance, these results have implications for how recruiters might attempt to influence applicants' reactions towards selection. Besides practical implications, several avenues for further research are discussed in this paper.