What Do Consistency and Personableness in the Interview Signal to Applicants? Investigating Indirect Effects on Organizational Attractiveness Through Symbolic Organizational Attributes

  • Annika Wilhelmy
  • Martin Kleinmann
  • Klaus G. Melchers
  • Filip Lievens
Original Paper


Personnel selection research has recognized the importance of providing applicants with both standardized (i.e., “consistent”) and individualized (i.e., “personable”) treatment during interviews. However, research has yet to examine the mechanisms underlying the effects of perceived consistency and personableness in the interview on applicants’ attraction to organizations. Drawing from signaling theory, we investigate how interview consistency and personableness impact organizational attractiveness. To this end, we developed a conceptual model that proposes that applicants interpret perceived interview consistency and personableness as signals about what the organization is like in terms of symbolic organizational attributes (organizational competence and benevolence, Lievens and Highhouse 2003), which in turn influence perceptions of organizational attractiveness. A longitudinal three-wave field study with 129 applicants showed that applicants’ perceptions of both consistency and personableness positively impacted organizational attractiveness. Additionally, these effects were mediated by organizational competence perceptions, but not by organizational benevolence perceptions. Furthermore, consistency and personableness perceptions differed in their relative influence on organizational competence, benevolence, and attractiveness, with personableness perceptions being a more influential predictor. This study contributes to a nuanced theoretical understanding of how applicants interpret interviews as signals about how organizations treat their members.


Interview Consistency Personableness Applicant reactions Recruitment 



We thank Stéphanie Weissert, Isabel Wildbolz, and Lisa J. Schneider for their work in the data collection and analysis process, Michel Hunziker for his support in data analysis, and Cornelius J. König for his feedback concerning this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychologisches InstitutUniversität ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Institut für Psychologie und PädagogikUniversität UlmUlmGermany
  4. 4.Lee Kong Chain School of BusinessSingapore Management UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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