According to a new study, embellishing one’s abilities can improve one’s chances of getting hired. “In the employment interview, interviewees are motivated to portray a suitable image in an effort to maximize their chances of receiving a job offer,” said Brian W. Swider of the Department of Management at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. Swider, lead author of a new study examining how lying during an interview affects offers of employment, said that many people use impression management (IM) tactics to improve their image. “Although employment interview research has long skirted the issue, interviewees can, and do, employ IM tactics that are intentionally deceptive in an attempt to present themselves in the most favorable light possible,” said Swider. “Although lying is common in everyday life, studies show that creating or maintaining a deliberately false impression requires considerable effort and attention.” He added, “On the basis of the response quality and difficulty associated with effectively deceiving others, we propose that interviewees who rely on more deceptive IM tactics may actually reduce their chances of interview success.”
Self-promotion, image creation and extensive image creation were the three IM tactics that Swider and his colleagues examined in the study participants. The 112 test subjects participated in a formal interview consisting of a short rapport-building session followed by a 30-minute structured interview. The researchers found that self-promotion increased interview outcomes, as did image creation, but extensive image creation had negative consequences. “Interviewers expect, even demand, that interviewees describe their past experiences positively when given an experience-based question during the structured interview. Thus, when savvy interviewees ‘polish’ their image and convey they are valuable employees (i.e., self-promotion), they benefit,” said Swider. “When interviewees ‘cross the line’ into creating an image through intentional misrepresentation, however, our results suggest that the positive effect may actually disappear, or perhaps even become negative.” They added that the effect of the IM tactics could be relative to the position being sought. “Perhaps effective IM usage in the interview predicts job performance in jobs that involve higher levels of interpersonal interaction with relative strangers (i.e., sales people) but is detrimental in situations that demand cooperation (i.e., workgroups).”
Swider, B. W., Barrick, M. R., Harris, T. B., & Stoverink, A. C. (2011, May 30). Managing and Creating an Image in the Interview: The Role of Interviewee Initial Impressions. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024005
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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