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Does it take two to Tango? Examining how applicants and interviewers adapt their impression management to each other


Wilhelmy, Annika; Roulin, Nicolas; Wingate, Timothy G (2021). Does it take two to Tango? Examining how applicants and interviewers adapt their impression management to each other. Journal of Business and Psychology, 36(6):1053-1076.

Abstract

Although research has long examined applicants’ use of impression management (IM) behaviors in the interview, interviewers’ IM has only been recently investigated, and no research has attempted to combine both. The aim of this research was to examine whether and how applicants and interviewers adapt their IM to one another. To answer this question, we bring together IM, signaling theory, and the concept of adjacency pairs from linguistics, and carried out two studies. Study 1 was an observational study with field data (<jats:italic>N</jats:italic> = 30 interviews including a total of 6290 turns of speech by interviewers and applicants). Results showed that both applicants and interviewers are more likely to engage in IM in a way that can be considered as a “preferred” (vs. “dispreferred”) response pattern. That is, self-focused IM is particularly likely to occur as a response to other-focused IM, other-focused IM as a response to self-focused IM, and job/organization-focused IM as a response to job/organization-focused IM. In study 2, we used a within-subjects design to experimentally manipulate interviewer IM and examine its impact on (<jats:italic>N</jats:italic> = 120) applicants’ IM behaviors during the interview. Applicants who engaged more in “preferred” IM responses were evaluated as performing better in the interview by external raters. However, “preferred” IM responses were not associated with any other interview outcomes. Altogether, our findings highlight the adaptive nature of interpersonal influence in employment interviews, and call for more research examining the dynamic interactions between interviewers and applicants.

Abstract

Although research has long examined applicants’ use of impression management (IM) behaviors in the interview, interviewers’ IM has only been recently investigated, and no research has attempted to combine both. The aim of this research was to examine whether and how applicants and interviewers adapt their IM to one another. To answer this question, we bring together IM, signaling theory, and the concept of adjacency pairs from linguistics, and carried out two studies. Study 1 was an observational study with field data (<jats:italic>N</jats:italic> = 30 interviews including a total of 6290 turns of speech by interviewers and applicants). Results showed that both applicants and interviewers are more likely to engage in IM in a way that can be considered as a “preferred” (vs. “dispreferred”) response pattern. That is, self-focused IM is particularly likely to occur as a response to other-focused IM, other-focused IM as a response to self-focused IM, and job/organization-focused IM as a response to job/organization-focused IM. In study 2, we used a within-subjects design to experimentally manipulate interviewer IM and examine its impact on (<jats:italic>N</jats:italic> = 120) applicants’ IM behaviors during the interview. Applicants who engaged more in “preferred” IM responses were evaluated as performing better in the interview by external raters. However, “preferred” IM responses were not associated with any other interview outcomes. Altogether, our findings highlight the adaptive nature of interpersonal influence in employment interviews, and call for more research examining the dynamic interactions between interviewers and applicants.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Business and International Management
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Business, Management and Accounting
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, General Business, Management and Accounting, Business and International Management, General Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2021
Deposited On:11 Jan 2021 17:02
Last Modified:24 Apr 2024 01:46
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0889-3268
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-020-09720-5
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)