Styles of success : On impression management as collaborative action in job interviews
Sammanfattning: The research reported in this study takes both a general descriptive approach - investigating the characteristics of 48 job interviews - and a comparative one - analyzing ways in which those who got a job offer differed from those who did not. Data used in this study are tape recordings of job interviews with applicants for trainee-positions with a large Swedish business corporation. Additional data are tape-recordings of post-interviews made by the researcher with the applicants as well as questionnaires from the interviewers.The theoretical nations of self presentation and impression management (Goffman) have been the main points of departure for this study. All communication invalves impression,management. but job interviews focus explicidy on this aspect of interaction. Job interviews can be seen as argumentations where the applicants are actively trying to support their claim that they are perfect for the job. Their argumentations are enacted in a dialogue, however, and the applicants' ways of arguing are thus dependent on the interviewers' contributions to the dialogue. Communication is a constant handling of conflicting demands. The particular solution to these conversational dilemmas manifests itself as a personal style.Three main empirical analyses of the data were performed. The first concemed itself with the structure of the job interview. What does it look like and how is it managed? The analyses show that the responsibility for maintaining the global structure lies almost completely with the interviewer, hut that the applicant has the responsibility for managingthe local structure, for feeding interesting detalls in to the interview.The second set of analyses was concerned with the ways in which the applicants actively argued for themselves. The results show that the successful applicants qualify their claims more forcefully, by modifications, explicit analysis or humour, for instance. The successfulapplicants also receive more interactive assistance from the interviewers.The third set of analyses aimed at investigating some aspects of the interactive elimate in relation to the interviewers' different interviewing styles. The ways in which the interviewers paused and used simultaneous talk had a decisive influence on the length of the applicants' answers. The interactive element of interviewing was once more demonstrated in the analysis of laughter; in the interviews with the successful applicants there was more mutual laughter than in the interviews with the nonsuccessful applicants. The different interviewers' styles were recognized and described accurately by the applicants hut were valued differently.The main significance of the study is the demonstration of the interactive element in dialogue. The interviewers are in a certain sense actively creating the grounds on which they are to base their decision to hire the applicants or not.
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