If You're Hiring, Stop Talking and Listen


Job candidates should be the one's selling themselves to potential employers, not the other way around.

Job interviewers who are too eager to sell applicants on a job have an increased likelihood of missing some important things about them and whether they are good fit for the position, according to a new study in the current issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

Researchers found that the effort to sell candidates on the open job interferes with the process of evaluation and is more likely to result in a bad hire, given the fact that their attention is limited.

"Interviewers often feel responsible for not only judging applicants but also attracting applicants to join their organization," the study's authors wrote. "The more interviewers adopt a selling orientation, the less able they are to make judgments that accurately predict applicants' future success as newcomers." [5 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them]

The findings emerge from two separate studies -- a laboratory experiment in which participants simulated job interviews and field studies involving professional interviewers and actual job applicants.

In the simulation, more than 60 subjects were assigned to play the roles of interviewers or applicants for a customer service manager position. Interviewers were told to both evaluate and recruit. However, in half the cases, emphasis was put on the need to sell the job to the applicant.

At the end of the simulation, interviewers were asked to rate each candidate's "core self-evaluation," which, the authors define as "an appraisal of one's self-worth [that] also reflects beliefs in one's capabilities and competence." The study's authors believe that core self-evaluations predict work outcomes better than any other individual dispositional trait, including conscientiousness.

The researchers then compared those ratings with how the candidate, as well as their family or friends, judged their core self-evaluations in an attempt to determine to what extent interviewers' assessments of applicants matched those of the applicants and those who know them best.

The experiment revealed that when it comes to judging other people's core self-evaluations, interviewers are significantly less accurate when their primary motivation is selling.

In addition to the simulation, researchers conducted several field studies, including one that involved 35 interviewers who were tasked with matching international teachers to school districts in the U.S. The study revealed that when interviewers' selling orientation was low, their ratings of applicants' core self-evaluations bore a significant relationship to both the teachers' willingness 18 months into their jobs to volunteer and contribute above and beyond the strict dictates of their positions and the alignment of the teachers' values with those of their schools. In contrast, when selling orientation was high, those relationships were statistically insignificant.

Based on their results, the researchers said businesses should consider formally separating the applicant-evaluation process from the applicant-attraction process.

"This could be done either by having evaluation and selling conducted by different people or at different stages of the hiring process," they wrote in the study.

While they conceded that many companies do not want to invest the time, money and interviewers to conduct different types of interviews, they urge that it may be most beneficial to formally separate the assessment and recruiting parts of their interview process and to make this strategy clear to interviewers.

Jennifer Carson Marr, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dan Cable, a professor at London Business School, authored the study.

Originally published on Business News Daily.