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Impression Management In A Job Interview Essay

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2019


With the current economic crunch that seems to rise in an alarming rate, the unemployed people are likely to be emotionally and psychologically affected resulting to a scarring effect. Having a source of income therefore becomes very important for every citizen in order to sustain their daily basic needs.

It does not come as a surprise that most citizens are living in fear of losing their homes just because they can no longer pay the mortgage. Shockingly, most of this jobless people are educated and have undergone a particular training yet they do not seem to get a simple job. Earlier studies indicate that most of them have attended numerous job interviews without success.

This paper will explore the concept of impression management and the role it plays on candidates seeking for a job. It will further explain the aspects of impression management and other strategies that job applicants should adopt in order to increase their chances of being hired.

Understanding The Concept Of Impression Management In A Job Interview

The first impression in most cases leaves a lasting impact hence basing one’s judgment on it. Most social psychologists pose the argument that impression management in a job interview mostly concern itself with non-verbal communication as opposed to verbal communication.

This means that the job candidate should be more wary of how they conduct themselves before the interviewing panel, an aspect that most candidates ignore during the interview. It has been researched and concluded that most job candidates concentrate more on the verbal communication in an attempt to create an impression hence ignoring the aspect of non-verbal strategy (Gatewood, Field and Barrick, 2010).

It therefore does not come as a surprise when a highly qualified candidate is turned away purely based on the way he was dressed during the interview. Creating the first impression by applying both non-verbal and verbal strategy is therefore pertinent in any interview.

Job applicants should not only be aware of how to answer a question, but also the manner in which to answer that particular question. This tends to strike a lasting impression hence increasing the chances of being hired.

Interviewers’ Sensitivity To Impression Management Strategies In A Job Interview

The interview process takes a very short duration of time hence the need for the interviewer to get the most out of the candidate in that short period of interaction. It is for this reason that the interviewer makes most of the first time impression tactics to assess a candidate. The candidate should therefore learn how to assess the behavior of the interviewer during the first few minutes of the interaction.

This will not only keep him on the competitive edge during the entire process but he can also use the information to his advantage. Previous research conducted highlights a major psychological theory that can be applied by the job applicants during an interview to comprehensively grasp the concept of impression management tactics to evoke the sensitivity of the interviewers (Lievens and Peeters, 2008).

The attribution theory indicate that people often have a strong urge to learn their surroundings in order to understand and explain the events surrounding them. In a job interview context, the interviewer is able to understand the past actions of the job candidate and try to analyze the cause of those actions.

The candidate in turn can take advantage of the impression management tactics during this session to evoke the sensitivity of the interviewer. A good example is during the behavior description interview, the candidate should be able to assess what the interviewer is looking for and use self-promoting remarks that gives an indication to the interviewer that the candidate possesses all the desirable qualities.

On the other hand, the candidate should be able to judge the behavior of the interviewer in order to learn how to apply defensive tactics during the interview process (Thurbon, 1996).

Nonverbal Impression Management Tactic In A Job Interview

Impressing the interviewer with a well written resume and vital information regarding the company is remarkable but nonverbal communication is actually the determinant factor of how serious the interviewer takes a candidate. This is one aspect that most candidates fail to adhere to when going for an interview.

It is not surprising that even after giving an outstanding speech of why you are qualified for the job and presenting the best written resume one gets the disappointing response that “Sorry you are not the person we are looking for but we wish you the best endeavors in your job hunt.”

This is not only devastating to the candidate but most are left wondering whether they took the wrong education courses or whether their resumes are not up to standards. Most people fail to understand that the first impression can either make or destroy one.

First impression start counting from the moment the candidate enters the interview room. The interviewer in most cases creates an impression of what to expect from the candidate the moment they open that door and from the behavior exhibited within that short period of interaction.

Nonverbal behaviors can be categorized as either visual cues or vocal cues. Visual cues entail the body language communication of the candidate. Visual cues range from facial expressions, gestures, sitting postures, maintaining eye contact to body orientation.

Facial expressions tends to subconsciously sway an interview. This is because most people are said to trust facial expressions. A smile on one’s face not only indicate confidence but also helps to set a relaxing atmosphere. Most candidates let nervousness get in their way hence appearing grumpy to the interviewer. Most companies do not wish to hire a dull person.

However, it is important to learn when to smile and when to put a serious expression as most candidates end up overdoing it hence making a fool of themselves. Eye contact is also very important as it elicits a sign of confidence in the candidate.

This becomes tricky if the candidate is being interviewed by a panel. In such a case, the candidate should try and address the person who has posed the question but occasionally glance to the other interviewers to involve them. However, a candidate should steer off from staring too hard as it creates a sense of discomfort to the interviewer. The interviewers also look out for certain gestures such as fidgeting in the seat or sweating.

Candidates should also avoid fiddling with props such as pens as they can greatly embarrass you sending the wrong signals. Vocal cues are also very important. This does not necessary entail the long adorable speech by the candidate but rather the manner in which he delivers that speech.

Interviewers look out for certain voice characteristics such as fluency, the talking speed or even the articulation in the voice. The candidate should take a moment to understand what the interviewer wants to know and deliver the same.

An article by Word, Zanna and Cooper (2007) gives an insight of nonverbal communication and the role it plays during an interview. In the article, the authors argue that nonverbal behavior greatly determines the attitude of a person, either positively or negatively. This brings about the concept of interchannel discrepancies and its importance during an interview.

Interchannel discrepancies are actually conflicting emotions that are mostly evident in the body language of a candidate. They send a clear message to the interviewer which can either be positive or negative. Most interviewers rely on interchannel discrepancies to determine the credibility of the candidate.

A good example is when the candidate is asked a sensitive question and he avoids eye contact when responding or start blinking, the interviewer can conclude that either the candidate is not sure of what he is saying or is lying.

There are other strategies that the applicants can adopt to strike a favorable impression. Physical appearance for example is very important. Candidates should take a keen interest in their physical appearance such as the outfit, as it creates a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Most people dress casually as if they are going for a social gathering in a fast food restaurant and expect to be considered for the job. Resumes are also very important as they encompass most information about the candidate. A resume can either fire or hire you as they give the interviewer a general impression of what the candidate is capable of doing.

The candidate should also be keen to appeal the interviewers to enhance the likelihood of being likeable. This can be achieved by applying the self promotion tactics that grasp the attention of the interviewer. However, the candidates should be careful not to exaggerate when applying this particular tactic as it can work against the candidate.

A Research Proposal To Evaluate A Strategy To Effectively Train Job Applicants

It is important to come up with a strategy to effectively train job applicants on how to undergo a successful job interview. Most job applicants do not know how to behave during an interview hence relying more on the verbal communication tactic and ignoring the nonverbal tactic which in most cases determine the employer’s evaluation.

The hypothesis proposed is that the applicants who had undergone an intensive training on nonverbal impression management tactic are bound to be highly considered for the job. The participants of the study will be a group of 40 applicants who have been asked to attend an interview. 10 applicants will undergo a normal training on both verbal and non verbal communication tactic.

The other 10 applicants will undergo an intensive training that will rely more on the nonverbal tactic rather than the verbal. Another group of 10 applicants will undergo an intensive training that will rely on the verbal tactic rather than the verbal. The last group of 10 applicants will not receive any training at all.


It is actually evident that there are several job openings but only those that leaves a striking impression are considered, regardless of one’s education background. Such cases leave a lot to be desired as to the preparedness of the candidates during an interview.

Most candidates do not seem to take a job interview seriously hence decreasing their chances of being considered. The aspect of impression management in a job interview is therefore very important as the interviewer always makes a snap judgment of the candidate within the first few minutes of encounter.

Reference List

Gatewood, R., Field, H., and Barrick, M. (2010). Human Resource Selection. New York: Cengage Learning.

Lievens, F., and Peeters,H. (2008). Interviewers’ Sensitivity to Impression Management Tactics in Structured Interviews. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24(3), 174-180. Doi: 10.1027/1015-5759.24.3.174.

Thurbon, B. (1996). The Factors affecting impression management in job interviews. London: Appalachian State University.

Word, C., Zanna, M., and Cooper, J. (2007).The nonverbal mediation of self-fulfilling prophesies in interracial interaction. In A. Joshua and A. Elliot (Eds.), Reading About The Social Animal (pp. 397-409). New York: Worth publishers.

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