Recruitment And Selection of Personnel For Organizations in Decision Making
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Nowadays, job interview has become the most commonly used human resource. In fact, any individual ever hired or chosen for a job title has had to involved in various forms of employment interviews. Considering hiring decision relies heavily on job interview, the interviewees tend to portray a suitable image that fits with the job requirements, in order to maximize their chances of getting hired. In addition to that, studies have documented that applicants are more likely to employ impression management tactics to convince that he or she is the best candidate and to manipulate the decisions of interviewers.
According to Schlenker (1980), Impression Management (IM) is defined as the behaviours people exhibit to create, alter, control and maintain desired impressions, and is frequently used in social influence process including job interview. Generally, IM can be classified into two main forms: verbal tactics and non-verbal tactics. Moreover, verbal tactics can be further categorized as self-focused IM, where the interviewees shift the focus of conversation to themselves; and other-focused IM where the focus of conversation is on interview or the organization. Previous research has shown that the application of IM tactics is an extremely common phenomenon during interviews because it allows applicants to create positive interview outcome.
However, a number of studies argue that the use of certain IM tactics backfires, causing the interviewees fail to convey a favourable image they intended to, which eventually results in negative interviewer evaluations. As a matter of fact, research has always been focusing on the effects of IM during job interview but paying little attention on examining the conditions that affect the use and effectiveness of IM tactics during job interview. Therefore, this paper will explore the use of IM tactics by examining four determinants in job interview, including interview structure, the types of interview questions, interviewer characteristics and job-related requirements.
As IM tactics are widely believed as a crucial factor to succeed in job interview, most of the job applicants tend to portray a professional image for themselves as being qualified for the jobs they are applying for without considering the context or characteristics of interview. As a result, these applicants might not be evaluated accurately due to the use of inappropriate IM tactics. Indeed, the effectiveness of IM tactics adopted by interviewee is highly affected by the structure of interview. The positive effect, which was originally expected to affect interviewer’s evaluation, will be weaken when applicants adopted IM tactics in structured interview. According to Campion et al. (1997), certain components in structured interview are confirmed to have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of applicant IM tactics.
For example, the instruction of “evaluating applicant responses according to each interview question” has the function of reducing the cognitive complexity occurs in interviewer decisions and thus filtering out irrelevant information that would affect interviewer’s evaluation. Additionally, the opportunities of using IM tactics will decrease due to the reason that the questions asked in structured interview are based on a job analysis format. By doing so, applicants will have less control over the content of discussion, thereby reducing their chances to employ self-focused IM tactics during the interview. Besides, the component of “asking the exact same questions to each interviewee” in structured interview not only will serve interviewers a common ground for collecting important information that reflects the real qualifications of applicants, but also keep interviewer bias out of the interviewing process.
In short, the standardization of interview questions is another important element that restricts applicants from manipulating interviewers’ impressions in a desirable way. Contrarily, studies revealed that IM tactics such as self-promotion tactics were frequently used by interviewee during unstructured job interviews and was proven to creates positive impact on interviewer’s evaluation. Overall, IM tactics are not universally applicable to all job interviews but need to take account of the structure of interview.
The outcome of interview will be maximized if both the interviewers and job applicants are aware of the fact “the greater the structure of interview, the weaker the effect of IM tactics on interviewer’s evaluation”. Accordingly, not only the criterion related validity of job interview can be enhanced, but also minimizing the impact of extraneous information such as physical characteristics and non-verbal behaviour on interviewer’s evaluation. On the other side, the ability to decide the use of proper IM strategy according to different structure of interview will help applicant to gain competitive advantage over other applicants in job interview. The types of interview questions are another critical factor that influence the effectiveness of using IM tactics.
Speaking of question types, interview questions can be categorized into behaviour-based and situational-based question according to the degree of structure. Behaviour-based questions, also known as experience-based question, are asked when interviewer wants to know about the previous work and life experiences that are related to the applicant’s knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs). While situational-based questions are the questions that requires applicants to respond to a specific situation where they need to place themselves in the imaginary of possible job-related situations. Comparing situational-based question to behaviour-based question, the former is more structured in terms of the context of applicants’ response, as applicants could not boast their competence through using IM tactics.
In contrast, behaviour-based question allows applicants to brag as well as defend themselves on how they acted in their past using IM tactics. A few studies have revealed that interview evaluations in unstructured interviews are positively affected by the use of self-promotion tactics. This is because interviewers will constantly search for the motives behind applicant’s past behaviours when experience-based question is asked, and self-promoters could curtail their answers by taking credit for success they achieved in their past behaviours. Therefore, interviewer might be more likely to hear the positive qualities and traits rather than weaknesses from applicants.
To conclude, using self-promotion tactics while answering behaviour-based questions will definitely affect interviewer’s evaluation in a positive way. Referring to the work of Stevens and Kristof (1995), applicants are found to use both the self-promotion and ingratiation tactics in answering situational questions. However, as mentioned in “interview structure” part, several components have limited the use of self-promotion tactic. Unlike behavioural questions, situational-based questions provide least latitude for applicant to link their KSAOs to job-relevant behaviour. Thus, applicants could not brag about job competence with their past experiences, but could only search for different cues in the given situation to construct a desired impression. For instance, there is less chance for applicant to use self-promotion tactics if question such as “if you arrive on the scene of your colleague arguing with your supervisor, what would you do to calm them down?” is asked.
Yet, from another perspective, there is higher opportunity for applicants to find cues and use ingratiation tactic, which is to construct answers that conforms to the culture and values of the organization. Consequently, applicants are more likely to be rated higher if the similar-to-me effect induced by effective ingratiation tactic works on interviewers. Playing an important role in hiring process, not only the perception but also the characteristics possessed by an interviewer will indirectly influence the way employment decisions are made. For instance, the experience and training background of interviewer are found to have certain degree of influence on reducing or increasing the effect of IM tactics used by applicants. To enhance interview outcome, it is necessary for both interviewer and applicant to pay attention to interviewer characteristics as it moderates the impact of IM tactics.
Accordingly, the effectiveness of IM tactics decreases when interview is conducted by interviewer who had received interviewer training. During job interview, the IM tactics used by applicants can be easily detected by trained interviewers. Thus, these interviewers would be more aware of the image the applicants were trying to “sell” to them. Furthermore, Howard and Ferris (1996) found that self-promotion IM tactics were less effective in influencing the evaluations carried out by well-trained interviewers. For example, applicant who exhibits high self-promotion behaviours in the presence of trained interviewers are more likely to be recognized as managing the image they are trying to portray, and thus has a higher chance of losing credibility for their capability. Consequently, the applicant might be perceived as exaggerating or overemphasizing on matching his or her qualifications with the job offer, causing him or her to look less competence over other applicants.
Nevertheless, interview evaluation carried out by interviewer who receives no training will be easily affected by IM tactics. This indicates that these interviewers are less able to recognize errors induced by IM tactics and make inaccurate judgements in job interviews, comparing to those had received interview training. For example, applicants who excel in self-promotion tactics might use different IM tactics such as self-promotion and ingratiation to overwhelm the interviewers, causing untrained interviewers to be caught with the image the applicant choose to present.
In conclusion, from the standpoint of organizations, providing internal training for interviewers will enable the organizations to identify true talents or qualified personnel through job interview, and will a higher probability of hiring the right person. While for applicants, they are encouraged to pay attention to the use of IM tactics while answering the questions. Applicants who overuse self-promotion and ingratiation tactics may be the victims of their own tactics. Although the use of IM tactics is highly limited to experienced interviewers, IM tactics do have positive influence on interviewer’s evaluation when they are considered to be a job-related skill. In the context where a job requires candidates to have contact with customers, also known as service-oriented job, applicants who possess excellent IM tactics will have an absolute advantage over those who do not have.
As service industry plays an increasingly important role in the global economy, IM tactics have become one of the pre-requisite skills for people working in the industry. Based on the investigation conducted by Gilmore and Ferris (1989), several IM tactics including self-promotion tactics and ingratiation tactics are found to have strong relationship with customer-service-oriented jobs. For instance, jobs like insurance agent, sales representative, business consultant, customer service officer and more requires applicants to have high customer contact because they must convince clients of their job competence and capability. Even certain top management positions demand applicants to employ these skills to handle human issues.
These job offers require employees to make the best use of IM tactics to effectively interact with others. Ellis et al. (2002) pointed out that the performance of employees in service sector will be better when IM tactics are employed during their communication with customers. Thus, when applicants that are proficient in using the IM tactics are hired, organization will be benefited. Hence, it is mandatory for hiring managers to assess the proficiency of applicants IM tactics during the job interview as it could reflect the social interacting, marketing, and persuasion skills of applicants.
Interviewers are more likely to pay attention to applicants who knows how to present themselves and to evoke interpersonal liking and attraction of their target during interviews, and consequently, applicants that could demonstrate IM tactics effectively will be given higher evaluations. However, when the nature of the job requires low extent of customer contact, hiring managers will concentrate on the professional qualifications and capability of applicants rather than the proficiency of applicants demonstrating IM tactics. For example, jobs like research and development officers, technicians and engineers normally favour professional skills, knowledge and practical experience over the ability to exert IM tactics. All in all, when IM tactics are considered to be relevant skills for jobs that require high customer contact by interviewers, the presence of self-focused IM tactics will positively influence the judgement of interviewers.
In conclusion, interview structure, types of interview questions, interviewer characteristics and job-related requirements plays a critical role on determining the use and effectiveness of IM tactics in job interview. In the condition where the interview is highly structured, the effectiveness of IM tactics on interviewer’s evaluation will be significantly reduced. As the focus of interviewer is no longer on applicant’s behaviour but on job-related content answered by applicant, extraneous information such as physical appearance and non-verbal IM tactics will be ignored. Subsequently, the quality of hiring decisions will be enhanced when inaccurate information and potential source of errors are restricted during job interview. Besides, in situations when IM tactics are considered as job-relevant skills, by the interviewers, applicant who demonstrates self-focused tactics are more likely to create positive influence on interview evaluation. The greater the customer contact required by the job, the higher the proficiency level of applicant using IM tactics was expected by interviewers.
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