Behavioral Expression of Job Interview Anxiety

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study was to investigate (a) the behavioral cues that are displayed by, and trait judgments formed about, anxious interviewees, and (b) why anxious interviewees receive lower interview performance ratings. The Behavioral Expression of Interview Anxiety Model was created as a conceptual framework to explore these relations.

Design/Methodology/Approach

We videotaped and transcribed mock job interviews, obtained ratings of interview anxiety and interview performance, and trained raters to assess several verbal and nonverbal cues and trait judgments.

Findings

The results indicated that few behavioral cues, but several traits were related to interviewee and interviewer ratings of interview anxiety. Two factors emerged from our factor analysis on the trait judgments—Assertiveness and Interpersonal Warmth. Mediation analyses were performed and indicated that Assertiveness and Interpersonal Warmth mediated the relation between interview anxiety and interview performance. Speech rate (words spoken per minute) and Assertiveness were found to mediate the relation between interviewee and interviewer ratings of interview anxiety.

Implications

Overall, the results indicated that interviewees should focus less on their nervous tics and more on the broader impressions that they convey. Our findings indicate that anxious interviewees may want to focus on how assertive and interpersonally warm they appear to interviewers.

Originality/Value

To our knowledge, this is the first study to use a validated interview anxiety measure to examine behavioral cues and traits exhibited by anxious interviewees. We offer new insight into why anxious interviewees receive lower interview performance ratings.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for the title of the model.

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Acknowledgement

Special thanks to Monika Nadj for her contribution with developing an earlier version of the micro cue scale. This research was supported by a Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Deborah Powell.

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Correspondence to Amanda R. Feiler.

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Amanda R. Feiler and Deborah M. Powell have equally contributed to the study and manuscript.

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Feiler, A.R., Powell, D.M. Behavioral Expression of Job Interview Anxiety. J Bus Psychol 31, 155–171 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-015-9403-z

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Keywords

  • Interview anxiety
  • Interview performance
  • Person perception
  • Job interview