Storytelling in the Selection Interview? How Applicants Respond to Past Behavior Questions
- 2.2k Downloads
Increased use of past behavior questions makes it important to understand applicants’ responses. Past behavior questions are designed to elicit stories from applicants. Four research questions were addressed: How do applicants respond to past behavior questions, in particular, how frequent are stories? When applicants produce stories, what narrative elements do they contain? Is story production related to applicants’ characteristics? Do responses affect interview outcomes?
Using a database of 62 real job interviews, the prevalence of five types of applicants’ response to past behavior questions were analyzed: story, pseudo-story, exemplification, value/opinion, and self-description. We also coded the narrative content of stories, distinguishing between situations, tasks/actions, and results. We analyzed relations between applicant characteristics (gender, age, personality, self-reported communication and persuasion skills, general mental ability) and response type. We used hierarchical multiple regression to predict hiring recommendations from response type.
Stories were only produced 23 % of the time. Stories featured more narrative elements related to situations than tasks, actions, or results. General mental ability and conscientiousness affected response types, and men produced more stories than women. There were differences in the storytelling rate according to the type of competency. Stories and pseudo-stories increased hiring recommendations, and self-descriptions decreased them.
Behavioral interviews may not be conducive to storytelling. Recruiters respond positively to narrative responses. More research is needed on storytelling in the selection interview, and recruiters and applicants might need training on how to encourage and tell accurate and representative stories.
KeywordsSelection interview Storytelling Communication Narrative Behavioral questions
Research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Sinergia project Interactional Competences in Institutional Practices: Young People between School and the Workplace, CRSII1_136291). The data were obtained from another Swiss National Science Foundation Sinergia project, SONVB, FNCRSII2-127542/1. We thank Dr. Daniel Gatica-Perez, IDIAP; Dr. Marianne Schmid Mast, University of Neuchatel; and Dr. Tanzeem Choudhury, Cornell University, for granting us access to their data. We thank Franciska Krings and Franziska Tschan for advice on an earlier version of the manuscript.
- Boje, D. M. (2008). Storytelling organizations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Button, G., & Casey, N. (1984). Generating topic: the use of topic initial elicitors. In M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action (pp. 167–190). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Clark, H. H., & Schober, M. F. (1991). Asking questions and influencing answers. In J. M. Tanur (Ed.), Questions about questions: Inquiries into the cognitive bases of surveys (pp. 15–48). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Conrad, F. G., & Schober, M. F. (2005). Promoting uniform question understanding in today’s and tomorrow’s surveys. Journal of Official Statistics, 21, 215–231.Google Scholar
- Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Frauendorfer, D., Schmid Mast, M., Nguyen, L., & Gatica-Perez, D. (2013a). Predicting hiring decision via automatic social sensing of job applicant nonverbal interview behavior (Manuscript submitted for publication).Google Scholar
- Frauendorfer, D., Schmid Mast, M., Nguyen, L., & Gatica-Perez, D. (2013b). A step towards automatic applicant selection: Predicting job performance based on applicant nonverbal interview behavior (Manuscript submitted for publication).Google Scholar
- Goodwin, C. (1984). Notes on story structure and the organization of participation. In M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action (pp. 225–246). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics (pp. 41–58). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Jetter, W. (2008). Effiziente Personalauswahl: Die richtigen Mitarbeiter mit strukturierten Einstellungsinterviews finden. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.Google Scholar
- Kessler, R. (2006). Competency-based interviews. Pompton Plains, NJ: Career Press.Google Scholar
- Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience. In J. Helms (Ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12–44). Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
- Larson, W. W. (2001). Ten-minute guide to conducting a job interview. Indianapolis, IN: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Orr, J. (1996). Talking about machines: An ethnography of a modern job. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Prabakar Kamath, S. (2009). Competency-based interviewing. New Delhi: Excel Books.Google Scholar
- Roulin, N., Bangerter, A., & Wüthrich, U. (2012). Réussir l’entretien d’embauche comportemental: La méthode pour identifier et sélectionner les futurs employés performants. [Succeeding at the behavioral interview: The method for identifying and selecting future high performers.]. Bruxelles: De Boeck Professionals.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, B. R. (1980). Impression management: The self-concept, social identity, and interpersonal relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
- Schmid Mast, M. (2002). Dominance as expressed and inferred through speaking time: A meta-analysis. Human Communication Research, 28, 420–450.Google Scholar
- Schuler, H. (1992). Das multimodale einstellungsinterview. Diagnostica, 38(4), 281–300.Google Scholar
- Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Wonderlic, E. G. (Ed.). (2001). Wonderlic personnel test manual. Northfield, IL: E.F. Wonderlic & Assoc.Google Scholar