Emotions in the Hiring Procedure: How ‘Gut Feelings’ Rationalize Personnel Selection Decisions

  • Christian Imdorf


Sociological research on personnel selection has repeatedly shown the significance of emotions and feelings when managers or other organizational gatekeepers make decisions about whom to hire. Even though managers think of themselves as rational, they often make their hiring decisions based on feelings rather than on facts (Miller/Rosenbaum 1997: 512). Emotions seem to guide even the most professionalized personnel specialists when they match vacant job positions to one out of numerous job candidates (Voswinkel 2008). Usually ‘gut reaction’ in hiring refers to face-to-face job interviews, when personnel specialists judge candidates’ characteristics such as interests, motivation, positive attitude, work ethic or self-presentation (Lee/Wrench 1983: 26; Neckerman/Kirschenman 1991: 441). ‘Gut feelings’ were repeatedly mentioned when Moss and Tilly (2001: 230) asked employers about how they judge job candidates’ self-presentation. Jenkins (1986: 61f.) goes beyond this restriction to job interviews and assumes that emotion-based judgements are crucial for decision-making in all contexts of the hiring process. Likewise, Eymard-Duvernay and Marchai (1997: 145ff.), in their talks with recruitment specialists, have observed the frequent occurrence of expressions of intuition and feelings from the very beginning of the recruitment processes when applications are initially screened.


Work Organization Expressive Emotion Industrial World Moral Emotion Social Emotion 
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  • Christian Imdorf

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