Hearing men and seeing women at interview

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 1 June 2003


(2003), "Hearing men and seeing women at interview", Career Development International, Vol. 8 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/cdi.2003.13708cab.001

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

Hearing men and seeing women at interview

Hearing men and seeing women at interview

Gender stereotypes have been found to evade even the most sophisticated of recruitment interviews, with interviewers subconsciously preferring different body language from male and female candidates.

So said Anna Koczwara, Jo Silvester and Vibeke Meinke, from Goldsmiths College, London, at the British Psychological Society's occupational conference, held in Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

The researchers found that women who adopted more "feminine" behaviours, such as looking away, were rated more highly than females who used more masculine or assertive behaviours. The reverse was found to be true for males. Men who made more direct contact and fiddled less were rated more highly than their male colleagues.

Furthermore, in terms of the verbal behaviours associated with interview success, male candidates who articulate their responsibility for the outcome of a situation were rated more highly than other male colleagues. For example, saying "I got the job because I spent a long time researching the company" was rated more highly than saying "I was just lucky". This effect is not found to be significant in female candidates.

The research was based on a study of 60 final-year undergraduates who took part in simulated selection interviews with trained interviewers. The researchers hope that the study will help interviewers to guard against such unconscious discrimination.

Anthony Miles, Sean Keeley and Ian Newcombe, of Psychometric Services Ltd, told the conference that people who are more ambitious and energetic than others, and who like to say and do things which are socially acceptable, are more likely to cheat or fake on unsupervised online recruitment tests.

The researchers studied an online graduate-recruitment system in a financial-services company. They found that graduates whose online (unsupervised) and face-to-face (supervised) test scores differed significantly tended to be less confident, less trusting and with a lower sense of duty than the total group of candidates.

The researchers also found that those who made online claims about their numeracy, but did not live up to their claims in the supervised testing session, described themselves as more ambitious, emotionally controlled, organized, detail-focused, conscientious and conforming than those who did not.

The study's preliminary findings suggest that because of their personality characteristics, there may be ways in which people who are more likely to cheat can be identified. With this understanding, instead of expensively retesting everyone in a supervised environment, employers can focus their retesting on those most likely to benefit from it.

Juliette Alban-Metcalfe, of Leadership Research and Development, and Beverley Alimo-Metcalfe, of the University of Leeds, told the conference that some bosses could show prejudice in their assessments of employees from black and ethnic-minority groups.

The researchers investigated the differences in competence ratings given to black and ethnic-minority managers compared with white managers, and male managers compared with female managers, in an analysis of 360-degree feedback data of 3001 local-government managers.

Clear discrepancies appeared in the competence ratings given to black, minority-ethnic and white female managers by their bosses, peers and subordinates, which may be interpreted as suggesting that bosses were particularly biased in their assessments.

Furthermore, analysis revealed that there is a serious lack of awareness of the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to local councils.