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Smiling in a Job Interview: When Less Is More

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Abstract

Two studies examined the effect of applicants' smiling on hireability. In a pre-test study, participants were asked to rate the expected behavior for four types of applicants. Newspaper reporter applicants were expected to be more serious than applicants for other jobs. In Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to be an applicant or interviewer for a newspaper reporting job. Smiling was negatively related to hiring, and smiling mediated the relation between applicants' motivation to make a good impression and hiring. Hiring was maximized when applicants smiled less in the middle of the interview relative to the start and end. In Study 2, participants watched Study 1 clips and were randomly assigned to believe the applicants were applying to one of four jobs. Participants rated more suitability when applicants smiled less, especially for jobs associated with a serious demeanor. This research shows that job type is an important moderator of the impact of smiling on hiring.
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The Journal of Social Psychology
ISSN: 0022-4545 (Print) 1940-1183 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vsoc20
Smiling in a Job Interview: When Less Is More
Mollie A. Ruben, Judith A. Hall & Marianne Schmid Mast
To cite this article: Mollie A. Ruben, Judith A. Hall & Marianne Schmid Mast (2015) Smiling
in a Job Interview: When Less Is More, The Journal of Social Psychology, 155:2, 107-126, DOI:
10.1080/00224545.2014.972312
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2014.972312
Accepted online: 13 Oct 2014.Published
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The Journal of Social Psychology, 155: 107–126, 2015
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0022-4545 print / 1940-1183 online
DOI: 10.1080/00224545.2014.972312
ARTICLES
Smiling in a Job Interview: When Less Is More
MOLLIE A. RUBEN
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
JUDITH A. HALL
Northeastern University
MARIANNE SCHMID MAST
University of Lausanne
ABSTRACT. Two studies examined the effect of applicants’ smiling on hireability. In a pre-test
study, participants were asked to rate the expected behavior for four types of applicants. Newspaper
reporter applicants were expected to be more serious than applicants for other jobs. In Study 1, partici-
pants were randomly assigned to be an applicant or interviewer for a newspaper reporting job. Smiling
was negatively related to hiring, and smiling mediated the relation between applicants’ motivation to
make a good impression and hiring. Hiring was maximized when applicants smiled less in the middle
of the interview relative to the start and end. In Study 2, participants watched Study 1 clips and were
randomly assigned to believe the applicants were applying to one of four jobs. Participants rated more
suitability when applicants smiled less, especially for jobs associated with a serious demeanor. This
research shows that job type is an important moderator of the impact of smiling on hiring.
Keywords: hiring decisions, impression management, interview context, nonverbal behavior, smiling
RESEARCH IN NON-INTERVIEW SETTINGS clearly shows that smiling produces a good
impression (Lau, 1982; Mehrabian, 1969; Otta, Abrosio, & Hoshino, 1996; Palmer & Simmons,
1995; Thornton, 1943). Therefore, it is not surprising that in the interview literature, applicants
displaying more immediacy behaviors (Barrick, Shaffer, & DeGrassi, 2009; Guerrero, 2005),
including smiling, have been judged by observers and interviewers more positively on dimen-
sions of hireability, competence, and performance. Burnett and Motowidlo (1998) argued that
Address correspondence to Mollie A. Ruben, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Healthcare Organization
and Implementation Research, 150 S. Huntington Ave, Building 9, Boston, MA 02130, USA. E-mail: mollie.ruben@va.gov
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108 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
information conveyed through these visual cues, such as gaze, smiling, hand movements, body
orientation, and physical attractiveness, can impact interview ratings above and beyond the appli-
cant’s verbal responses. Thus, compared to other domains, the interview setting may provide an
ideal naturalistic professional setting in which the effect of nonverbal behaviors on impressions
and outcomes can be assessed.
The objective of the present article is to examine the independent contribution of smiling in
an interview setting to hireability ratings when controlling for other nonverbal behaviors and
background variables, as well as to examine the relation of the time course of applicants’ smiling
to hireability ratings. Aside from asking novel questions about the nature of the smiling effect,
the study stands out in the literature as one of the very few that has used a type of job for which
role expectations might produce a smiling effect that is different from previous studies.
Imada and Hakel (1977) found that immediacy behaviors such as more smiling, eye contact,
gestures, an attentive posture, smaller interpersonal distance, and a direct body orientation pro-
duced more favorable ratings of applicants for a student academic affairs position by interviewers
and observers. DeGroot and Motowidlo’s (1999) composite of smiling, gazing, expressive hand
movements, forward leaning, and physical attractiveness predicted making a favorable impres-
sion on the interviewer, being judged as more competent, and being rated by real supervisors and
coworkers as a better performer. In another study, in which hireability ratings were based on a
supposed applicant’s photograph, the applicant for a disc jockey position at a radio station who
was smiling in the picture was more likely to be hired regardless of job qualifications (Abel &
Deitz, 2008).
Although this literature appears to be unanimous in suggesting that smiling is beneficial in
the interview, there are several reasons why existing studies do not provide a final answer to this
question. We suggest that the appropriateness of smiling in an interview setting varies according
to the type of job being interviewed for. As the impression management literature suggests, people
try to control the impressions others have of them through their behavior in order to maximize
positive impressions and in the interview literature, hireability (Ellis, West, Ryan, & DeShon,
2002; Rosenfeld, Giacalone, & Riordan, 1995). A job that requires applicants to demonstrate
high levels of affiliativeness and positive affect, such as a s ales person or teacher, may require
applicants to display these qualities in the interview setting. In that case, applicants who smile
more may be most likely to fit the qualifications of the job. However, if the type of job does
not demand as much positive social interaction or requires a more formal interaction, such as
a management position or newspaper reporter—examples of jobs requiring more “serious” self-
presentation—then some cues may not help the applicant’s chances of being hired. This important
question of the impact of job type has not been explored in the literature.
We believe that for some jobs, displaying more smiling may actually be detrimental to the
applicant’s chances of being hired if it contradicts role expectations for seriousness or potency.
Reis and colleagues (1990) found that more smiling in a sample of undergraduates produced
lower ratings of masculinity and independence than less smiling. This result fits with two well-
established findings: the tendency of men to smile less than women (LaFrance, Hecht, & Paluck,
2003) and the association of leadership with masculinity (Koenig, Eagly, Mitchell, & Ristikari,
2011).
1
Thus, to the extent that the job evokes male-stereotypic qualities such as dominance or
gravity, smiling may be a liability. Past research on smiling in an interview context has not made
this distinction in how different nonverbal behaviors required for the actual job may dictate what
kind of nonverbal behaviors are appropriate in the interview for that job.
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 109
There are only two studies that we are aware of that have examined the effect of smiling on
job potential ratings using a more masculine and formal job type, a management training position
(Levine & Feldman, 2002) and a research assistant (Frauendorfer, Schmid Mast, Nguyen, &
Gatica-Perez, 2014). Levine and Feldman (2002) found no significant effects of the applicants’
smiling on interviewers’ ratings of competence, hireability, or likeability; however, judges who
watched segments of the videotapes without sound tended to rate those who smiled as more
likeable but there was no relationship with the judges’ competence ratings. Fraudendorfer and
colleagues (2014) found no relationship between smiling and hiring decisions while gaze, speech
fluency, and tempo variation were positively related to hireability ratings. These are the only two
studies that have examined a more formal and masculine job type and the only two studies that
have shown that smiling does not always have a positive effect on job potential ratings.
Another example of a more masculine, formal job that requires a serious demeanor is that of
a newspaper reporter. Newspaper reporting is a historically male-dominated profession (Rodgers
& Thorson, 2003) and therefore a different set of expectations may apply than in a more service-
oriented or female-dominated job. The American Society of Newspaper Editors reported in
2011 that among the more than 18,000 newspaper reporters to respond to their survey, about
62% were men, a trend that had been consistent for ten years (American Society of Newspaper
Editors, 2011). Furthermore, the image of reporters in movies and television is typically of a hard-
driving and serious person who is usually male. Men are stereotyped to smile less than women,
and they actually do smile less than women (Briton & Hall, 1995; LaFrance et al., 2003). This
could easily be generalized in perceivers’ minds to a job that has masculine connotations.
Finally, there is an additional feature of that job that is different from many other jobs. One
of the activities of a newspaper reporter is that reporters must themselves be interviewers, which
could have important implications for their optimal behavior. Applicants for a reporter job who
acted most like a prototypical interviewer, that is, businesslike, serious, and not smiling much,
would therefore be rated as more hirable than those who were smiling more.
Aside from not studying a wide range of job types, prior studies examining smiling in the inter-
view context have a number of other limitations. First, some have combined smiling with other
nonverbal cues such as gazing and gesturing to create immediacy behavior composites (DeGroot
& Motowidlo, 1999; Imada, & Hakel, 1977), which obscures the independent effect of smiling
as well as an understanding of how smiling fits in the context of other nonverbal behaviors. For
example, when smiling is combined with other nonverbal cues in a composite, cues that might
be positively correlated with hireability such as gazing at the interviewer and gesturing could
overpower the independent effect of smiling and it may appear that the combination of all three
cues, smiling, gazing and gesturing, are positive predictors of hireability, when in fact gestur-
ing and gazing are the only positive predictors. Previous research examining these composites
rarely presents the individual effects of each cue on outcome variables. By separately examining
the effects of each cue on hireability and other observer judgments, interventions can be devel-
oped to train applicants and interviewers in displaying the appropriate amount of each cue in an
interview context.
Another limitation of past research includes only examining the total frequency of smiling
across the interview instead of examining the time course of smiling. By correlating the fre-
quency of smiling across the entire interview with judgments of the applicants’ hireability, past
research has failed to examine whether there are more and less appropriate times for smiling
in the interview. For example, at the beginning, when applicants are trying to get to know the
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110 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
interviewer, or at the end, when applicants are trying to leave a lasting pleasant impression on the
interviewer, smiling may be an appropriate behavior for the applicant to display. But if applicants
smile when they are supposed to be displaying more task-relevant behaviors, more smiling may
produce a bad impression on the interviewer and alter associations with ratings of hireability.
Another limitation of past research involves the use of confederates as applicants or interview-
ers whose behavior may be artificial and lacks the ecological validity of a naturally occurring
conversation (Liden, Martin, & Parsons, 1993; Rasmussen, 1984; Young, Beier, & Beier, 1979).
Also, some studies used static photographs of smiling or short excerpts of synthetic, artificial
smiling faces versus non-smiling “applicants” in a vignette format, which is extreme and artificial
(Abel & Deitz, 2008; Damhorst & Reed, 1986; Krumhuber, Manstead, Cosker, Marshall, &
Rosin, 2009).
Finally, some studies have examined the impact of smiling on judges’ ratings of competence,
likeability, or hireability without the judges having access to the applicant’s verbal behavior (i.e.,
the audio was turned off; Abel & Deitz, 2008; Krumhuber et al., 2009; Levine & Feldman, 2002).
By providing judges with only a visual channel to evaluate applicants’ performance, a potentially
important component of the hiring process is dismissed. This omission may be less impactful if
warmth and sociability are the relevant hiring dimensions, for then smiling may be an appropriate
cue to focus on and not much is lost by omitting verbal content. However, if the job involves
other dimensions, such as intelligence, competence, or assertiveness, then the applicant’s words
are crucial. For such a job, judges’ evaluations of hireability based on only visual cues might be
different from those they would make if they had access to the verbal content. Hearing the words
would remind evaluators that it is a setting in which task competence matters, and they might draw
different inferences from smiling than they would if there was little other information to use.
THE PRESENT STUDIES
In a pre-test rating study, participants imagined interviews for various jobs used in the past
literature along with newspaper reporter, and then indicated their behavioral expectations for
smiling and overall demeanor. We predicted that jobs that are stereotypically more serious and
businesslike, including newspaper reporter, would engender an expectation for relatively little
smiling and a serious, businesslike demeanor.
Study 1, a role-play experiment, extends understanding of the impact of smiling in interview
settings in several ways. It used a job (newspaper reporter) that has relatively masculine role
expectations, including expectations for a relatively serious demeanor, and it used hireability
evaluations made by independent observers. The questions we address include the correlation
of smiling with hiring decisions; how the time course of the applicant’s smiling was related to
hireability ratings; and the role of smiling in mediating the relation between wanting to make
a good impression and receiving a favorable hiring decision. Also, compared to many existing
studies, ecological validity is enhanced because we include both verbal and nonverbal cues in the
stimuli rated for hireability, and we investigate specific nonverbal cues (e.g., smiling, gazing, etc.)
instead of a combination of several nonverbal cues. Although Study 1 utilized undergraduates
role-playing the part of an applicant or interviewer, ecological validity was enhanced compared
to most prior studies, as there was no standardized confederate behavior and participants were free
to behave and take on their roles as an applicant or interviewer. We hypothesized, in line with the
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 111
pre-test study prediction, that applicants displaying less smiling during an interview for newspa-
per reporter would be more likely to be hired compared to applicants displaying more smiling.
In Study 2, a perception study, we examined whether information about the job that applicants
were applying for would alter observers’ hiring expectations and suitability ratings. Specifically,
would the relation of smiling to hireability ratings be different if the evaluators thought the job
was of the serious and businesslike type (newspaper reporter and middle manager) as opposed
to the warm and personable type (elementary school teacher and salesperson)? We predicted that
there would be a negative correlation between suitability and smiling for observers assigned to a
job type requiring a more serious demeanor while the correlation would be weaker for participants
assigned to a job requiring a more affiliative demeanor (and possibly positive as in previous
studies of this type of job).
PRE-TEST STUDY: EXPECTATIONS FOR BEHAVIOR IN A JOB INTERVIEW
A pre-test study was conducted to test whether people hold the expectation that when apply-
ing for a job that requires a serious and businesslike demeanor, such as a newspaper reporter,
applicants should smile less compared to jobs that require a nicer and more agreeable demeanor.
Participants indicated their behavioral expectations for people interviewing for different kinds of
jobs, including newspaper reporter.
METHOD
Participants
Thirty-three undergraduates (7 male, 26 female) at Northeastern University participated in par-
tial fulfillment of their course requirement in introductory psychology. No other demographic
information was collected but this student population typically is 73% Caucasian, 4% African
American, 10% Asian or Asian American, and 6% Hispanic, with the remaining in an “other”
category.
Procedure
In a within-subjects design, participants were asked to make ratings about how much they would
expect applicants for each of 10 jobs to smile and display several trait-like behavior styles dur-
ing an interview. Nine jobs were taken from past literature examining the effect of smiling on
hireability ratings, plus newspaper reporter. The job types were (in this order): sales position at
a local firm, manager at a utility company, newspaper reporter, consumer representative, disc
jockey at a radio station, part time research assistant in a psychology department, member of a
student academic affairs council, summer management training program for a hotel corporation,
recruiter for psychology study participants, and a data entry position.
Participants rated for each job the extent to which applicants should smile in a job interview,
on a scale of 1 (not at all)to9(all the time). After the smiling rating, participants rated how much
applicants should display four trait-like qualities: businesslike, serious, nice, and agreeable, each
on the same scale from 1 (not at all)to9(all the time). The ratings of businesslike and serious
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112 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
were always positively correlated with each other (median r across the 10 jobs = .54), and the
ratings of nice and agreeable were also always positively correlated with each other (median r
across the 10 jobs = .60). Therefore, businesslike and serious were averaged to make a composite,
and nice and agreeable were averaged to make a composite.
RESULTS
We examined the means and confidence intervals for how participants’ expectations for the jobs
differed for smiling, businesslike/serious, and nice/agreeable. As can be seen in Figure 1, data
entry person, utility manager, and newspaper reporter had similar results that were different from
the other jobs. Specifically, those three jobs were the lowest on expected smiling in the interview,
highest on businesslike/serious, and lowest on nice/agreeable. Newspaper reporter was third-
most in the ranking on smiling, highest on businesslike/serious, and second to the bottom on
nice/agreeable. The results for manager are also consistent with Levine and Feldman’s (2002)
study that we described earlier, which found no relation between smiling and hireability ratings.
The results for data entry person indicate that participants were also considering a data entry
position to require a businesslike attitude paired with a relatively low level of agreeableness. The
95% confidence intervals depicted in Figure 1 also show that most of the jobs tend to overlap in
terms of expectations of applicant smiling, businesslike/serious demeanor, and agreeable/nice
demeanor. However, there were some affiliative applicant job types that did not overlap in
expected behavior with newspaper reporter applicants. Applicants for newspaper reporter were
expected to smile less than consumer representatives and hotel management trainees. Applicants
for consumer representative, disk jockey, and recruiter were expected to be less businesslike and
serious than newspaper reporter applicants. Finally, applicants for hotel management trainee were
expected to be more nice and agreeable compared to newspaper reporter applicants, though all
of the means (other than data entry) were higher than newspaper reporter (see Table 1 for means,
standard deviations, and 95% confidence intervals).
DISCUSSION
The type of job does impact expectations about appropriate behavior, such as smiling in an
interview. The jobs of newspaper reporter, manager, and data entry person were rated as more
businesslike and serious and had the lowest expectations of smiling compared to the jobs rated
as more nice and agreeable such as salesperson, consumer representative, and disc jockey. This
study also replicated a smaller rating study (see Footnote 2). To examine how these expectations
play out in terms of hireability ratings, Studies 1 and 2 were designed.
STUDY 1: SMILING IN AN INTERVIEW FOR NEWSPAPER REPORTER
Study 1 examined what nonverbal behaviors contribute to hiring decisions for a job that requires
a serious demeanor, specifically newspaper reporter. We also looked at how the time course of
smiling would impact hiring decisions as well as how smiling mediated the relation between the
interviewee’s wanting to make a good impression and hireability ratings.
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 113
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Mean expectation of smiling
Job type
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Mean expectation of
businesslike and serious
Job type
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Mean expectation of
nice and agreeable
Job type
FIGURE 1 Ratings of expected applicants’ smiling, businesslike/serious demeanor, and nice/agreeable demeanor for
10 jobs (pre-test study). N = 33. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
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114 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
TABLE 1
Ratings of Expected Applicants’ Smiling, Businesslike/Serious Demeanor, and Nice/Agreeable
Demeanor for 10 Jobs (Pre-test Study)
Smiling Businesslike/serious Nice/agreeable
Job M (SD) M (SD) M (SD)
Salesperson 8.11 (1.50) 7.57 (1.58) 8.11 (1.17)
[7.52, 8.71] [6.95, 8.20] [7.65, 8.57]
Utility company manager 7.18 (1.62) 8.30 (.84) 7.44 (1.26)
[6.55, 7.83] [7.97, 8.63] [6.95, 7.94]
Newspaper reporter 7.22 (2.01) 8.35 (.91) 7.15 (1.82)
[6.43, 8.02] [7.99, 8.71] [6.43, 7.87]
Consumer representative 8.59 (.75) 7.35 (1.53) 8.18 (.93)
[8.30, 8.89] [6.75, 7.96] [7.82, 8.55]
Disk jockey 8.30 (1.14) 5.00 (2.02) 8.02 (1.00)
[7.85, 8.75] [4.20, 5.80] [7.63, 8.41]
Research assistant 7.37 (1.82) 7.78 (1.30) 7.57 (1.45)
[6.65, 8.09] [7.26, 8.29] [7.00, 8.15]
Academic affairs council 8.15 (1.03) 8.02 (1.01) 7.93 (1.21)
[7.74, 8.55] [7.62, 8.42] [7.45, 8.40]
Hotel management trainee 8.56 (.93) 7.87 (1.12) 8.33 (.72)
[8.19, 8.93] [7.43, 8.32] [8.05, 8.62]
Recruiter for psychology 8.15 (1.23) 7.15 (1.58) 7.93 (1.15)
[7.66, 8.64] [6.52, 7.77] [7.47, 8.38]
Data entry person 6.26 (2.43) 7.93 (1.34) 7.00 (1.81)
[5.30, 7.22] [7.40, 8.46] [6.28, 7.72]
Note: Ratings are on a 9-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all)to9(all the time). M is mean, SD is standard deviation,
95% confidence interval in brackets.
METHOD
Participants
Participants were 100 undergraduate students at Northeastern University (34 male, 66 female)
who participated in partial fulfillment of their course requirement in introductory psychology.
They were paired into 50 dyads, but because one dyad did not role-play for the full 5 min,
their video was eliminated and this resulted in 49 dyads or 98 participants (5 male interviewer-
male applicant dyads, 23 female interviewer-female applicant dyads, 11 male interviewer-female
applicant dyads, and 10 female interviewer-male applicant dyads). No other demographic infor-
mation was collected, but this student population typically is 73% Caucasian, 4% African
American, 10% Asian or Asian American, and 6% Hispanic, with the remaining in an “other”
category.
Procedure
Participants were randomly assigned to be the employer (editor of a newspaper) or the applicant
for the job of a part-time newspaper reporter, in a mock job interview. Participants were given
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 115
written instructions about their role that they read to themselves. The description of the task was
the same for everyone, with the wording adjusted to be appropriate for either the applicant or
employer role. The instructions were closely modeled after Deutsch (1990) (see Appendix A for
description of roles).
After participants read the instructions, the experimenter started the camera and left the
participants alone to conduct the interview for 5 min. Afterwards, participants were sepa-
rated for completion of a post-experimental questionnaire and debriefing. The post-experimental
questionnaire included self and other ratings, as described below.
Scoring of Smiling
Because we were interested in the time course of each participant’s frequency of smiling, we
coded how many smiles occurred within each 30-s interval. Each participant’s full 5-min inter-
view was divided into 30-s clips, so that each participant had a total of 10 clips for the 5-min
interview. To minimize memory effects on the coder, these 10 clips, for both the applicant and
the interviewer, were then randomly ordered. One coder coded the 490 applicant clips with the
audio turned off. Because we coded smiling in 30-s intervals for applicants and interviewers
we were able to examine the total frequency of smiling in the interview, as past literature has
done, but were also able to examine the time course of smiling throughout the interview and the
correlates and consequences of smiling at different time points in the interview.
Coder reliability was established by correlating the main coder’s data with that of an indepen-
dent coder on 10% of the full 5-min interview for the frequency of smiling. The reliability for
smiling was very good, r(8) = . 86, p < .01.
Scoring of Other Nonverbal Behaviors
The main coder also counted, with the audio turned off, the frequency of head nod, gesturing,
and self-touch, and the duration of gaze (in s), for each applicant’s 30-s clips. The same inde-
pendent coder coded the same variables and reliability was excellent (head nod: r[8] = .92, p <
.001, gesturing: r[8] = .96, p < .001, self-touch: r[8] = .99, p < .001, and gaze: r[8] = .97,
p < .001).
3
Assessments of Applicants’ Hireability
Two independent coders (different from the smiling coder and reliability coder of the nonverbal
behavior) viewed the entire 5-min interview, with the interviewer not visible and with verbal
content present, and rated on a 9-point scale how likely they would be to hire the applicant if they
were the interviewer (α = .76).
Applicants’ Motivation
In order to examine how their motives in the job interview were related to smiling and hireability,
applicants rated on a 9-point scale in the post-experimental questionnaire how hard they tried to
make a good impression.
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116 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
Role Adoption and Manipulation Check Items
Interviewers and applicants reported on a 9-point scale how much they got into their role and
behaved in a realistic manner. Also, all participants filled in self-report scales of their feelings of
dominance and of being in control during the interview, on 9-point scales.
RESULTS
Check on Role Adoption
Paired samples t-tests showed that applicants and interviewers did not differ appreciably on how
much they got into their role, t(48) = 1.44, p = .156, d = –.21, 95% CI of the difference is
–1.37 to .23; and applicants and interviewers did not differ on how realistic they thought their
behavior was, t(48) = –.05, p = .962, d = –.01, 95% CI of the difference is –.88 to .83. On aver-
age, applicants and interviewers were moderately involved in their roles and how realistic their
behavior was (see Table 2 for means, standard deviations, and 95% confidence intervals).
4
Manipulation Check for Interviewer-Applicant Role Experience
Self-rated dominance and feelings of control were compared between applicants and interviewers
as a manipulation check that participants were getting into their roles. The applicant’s self-ratings
of dominance and control were positively correlated, r(47) = .58, p < .001, as were the inter-
viewer’s self-ratings of dominance and control, r(47) = .36, p = .011. Therefore, dominance and
control ratings were combined for each participant. A paired samples t-test showed that appli-
cants reported less dominance and control than did interviewers (albeit with a wide confidence
interval), t(48) = 2.14, p = .038, d = .31, 95% CI of the difference is .05 to 1.68. The 95% confi-
dence intervals of the means (which did not take the paired-samples design feature into account)
did slightly overlap as can be seen in Table 2.
TABLE 2
Means, Standard Deviations, and 95% Confidence Intervals for Applicants’ and Interviewers’
Self-ratings of Role Adoption (Study 1)
Applicants Interviewers
Self-rating M (SD) M (SD)
Got into role 5.90 (1.91) 5.33 (1.89)
[5.35, 6.45] [4.79, 5.87]
Realistic behavior 5.24 (2.43) 5.22 (1.88)
[4.55, 5.94] [4.68, 5.77]
Felt dominance/control 5.29 (1.65) 6.15 (1.62)
[4.81, 5.76] [5.69, 6.62]
Note: Ratings are on a 9-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all)to9(all the time). M is mean, SD is standard deviation,
95% confidence interval in brackets.
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 117
Smiling as a Nonverbal Cue for Hireability
To assess the weight of different nonverbal cues in coders’ ratings of hireability, multiple regres-
sions were performed by entering all five nonverbal behaviors simultaneously as well as gender of
the applicant. These predictors explained a significant proportion of variance in hireability, R
2
=
.52, F(6, 47) = 7.53, p < .001. Smiling was a significant negative predictor of hireability, while
nodding was a significant positive predictor (see Table 3 for standardized regression coefficients
and zero-order correlations for smiling).
5
The coefficients for smiling were much stronger than
those for the other variables. Furthermore the regression coefficient for smiling was identical to
the zero-order correlation for smiling, meaning that the other variables did not change the nega-
tive contribution of smiling to hireability ratings. The regressions indicate that more smiling was
a liability for applicants, while other nonverbal cues were either positive (nodding), or did not
predict hireability significantly (gazing, self-touch, and gestures). To make the best impression in
the coders’ eyes, the applicant nodded more and smiled less, a combination likely to be perceived
as serious and engaged.
When male and female applicants were examined separately, controlling for the other non-
verbal behaviors, both males’ and females’ smiling was significantly negatively correlated with
hireability ratings (p = .006 for both male and female applicants).
Less Smiling as a Strategy in the Job Interview
Now that less smiling has been identified in this context as an important cue for hireability ratings
above and beyond the other nonverbal cues, we can ask how smiling fits into the larger picture of
applicants’ motives in the job interview, specifically how hard the applicant tried to make a good
impression on the interviewer.
TABLE 3
Prediction of Hireability From Five Applicant Nonverbal Behaviors and Applicant Gender and
Intercorrelations of Predictors (Study 1)
Predictor
Zero-order
correlation with
hireability
Beta for
hireability 1 2 3 4 5
1. Smiling .55
∗∗∗
.55
∗∗∗
[–.72, –.32] [–.31, –.13]
2. Nodding .43
∗∗
.27
.11
[.17, .64] [.01, .09] [–.38, .18]
3. Gaze .32
.20 .07 .37
∗∗
[.04, .55] [–.00, .02] [–.22, .35] [.10, .59]
4. Self-touch .13 .11 .02 .12 .11
[–.16, .40] [–.01, .03] [–.27, .30] [–.39, .17] [–.18, .38]
5. Gesture .22 .13 .11 .08 .11 .18
[–.07, .47] [–.01, .04] [–.38, .18] [–.21, .36] [–.18, .38] [–.11, .44]
6. Applicant
gender
.03 .10 .31
.19 .30
.12 .32
[–.26, .31] [–.68, 1.52] [.03, .55] [–.10, .45] [.02, .54] [–.17, .39] [–.55, –.04]
Note: Beta weights are standardized regression coefficients. 95% confidence intervals in brackets.
p < .10,
p < .05,
∗∗
p < .01,
∗∗∗
p < .001.
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118 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
Wanting to
Make a Good
Impression
Hireability
Smiling
–.37**
–.61***
.44** (.25
)
FIGURE 2 Standardized regression coefficients for the relationship between applicants’ trying to make a good impres-
sion and independent coders’ judgments of hireability as mediated by applicants’ smiling (controlling for applicant
gender) (Study 1). The standardized regression coefficient between good impression and hireability controlling for smiling
is in parentheses.
p < .10,
∗∗
p < .01,
∗∗∗
p < .001.
Applicants who reported trying harder to make a good impression smiled less, r = –.36, p =
.013. Furthermore, how hard the applicants reported trying to make a good impression predicted
hireability ratings (r = .45, p = .001). The pattern of correlations involving how hard the appli-
cant tried to make a good impression suggests that applicants’ motives led to less smiling, which
in turn led to better hireability ratings. To test for this proposed mediation, we conducted a medi-
ation analysis using Preacher and Hayes’ (2004) bootstrapping technique. For the indirect effect,
confidence intervals that do not include zero suggest significant mediation. The mediation was
confirmed (95% CI: .06 to .40), thereby demonstrating that smiling mediated the r elationship
between trying to make a good impression and hireability ratings. We also conducted the same
mediation analysis controlling for applicants’ gender because gender was positively correlated
with smiling (r = .31, p = .030; women smiled more than men). When controlling for applicant
gender, the indirect effect of trying to make a good impression on hireability ratings was still
significant (95% CI: .07 to .43), suggesting that gender was not a confound of the mediation and
smiling was still a mediator (see Figure 2 for the standardized regression coefficients).
The fact that wanting to make a good impression did not account for all of the variance in
hireability ratings after smiling was taken into account shows that other factors besides smil-
ing played a part in how the applicant’s motivation for making a good impression affected the
hireability evaluation (e.g., the quality of the applicant’s interview answers).
Patterns of Smiling in Relation to Hireability
The final goal was to examine how an applicant’s pattern of smiling over time was related to
the hireability evaluation—specifically, whether either a tendency to smile increasingly over time
(upward linear trend), or a curvilinear pattern of smiling over time, would maximize hireability.
To do this, trend scores for each applicant were calculated to reflect each of these patterns. To cre-
ate the trend scores, we calculated for each applicant, across the 10 clips comprising the 5-min
interview, the correlation between smiling and both the linear and quadratic contrast polynomial
weights for n = 10 clips, so that the resulting trend scores describe each applicants’ pattern of
smiling over time. These trend scores were then correlated with hireability ratings.
For predicting ratings of hireability, the linear trend was not significant (r = .19, p = .217),
meaning that hireability was not increased by the applicant’s smiling a steadily increasing amount
throughout the interview. However, the quadratic trend was significant (r = .32, p = .031), and
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 119
showed that when an applicant smiled less in the middle of the interview than at the beginning or
end, the coders rated the applicant as more hireable.
DISCUSSION
Applicants in a role-play job interview who tried especially hard to get the job smiled less, and
these applicants were right in doing so because smiling less increased their chances of being hired.
These findings, along with the pre-test study’s findings, illustrate a shared common expectation
among applicants and interviewers about how much smiling is appropriate in a job interview for
a newspaper reporter. In addition, the trend analysis showed that smiling relatively less in the
middle of the interview compared to the beginning and end was a positive predictor of being
hired. The middle of the interview, relative to the beginning and end, is when interviewers asked
applicants questions about their past experience and competence at the job; therefore it is not
surprising that less smiling then, relative to the other time points, would be appraised in a more
favorable light.
STUDY 2: THE EFFECT OF APPLICANT SMILING AND JOB TYPE ON
RATINGS OF SUITABILITY
The purpose of Study 2 was to examine whether perceivers’ beliefs about the type of job appli-
cants were interviewing for moderated the relationship between applicant smiling and hiring
decisions. Participants in Study 2 watched silent video clips from Study 1 after being given infor-
mation about the job type the applicants were applying for. For all jobs other than newspaper
reporter, this information was false (because all the clips were from the newspaper reporter study).
METHOD
Participants
One-hundred forty undergraduates at Northeastern University (65 male, 75 female) participated in
partial fulfillment of their course requirement in introductory psychology. No other demographic
information was collected but this student population typically is 73% Caucasian, 4% African
American, 10% Asian or Asian American, and 6% Hispanic, with the remaining in an “other”
category.
Procedure
The participants who played the role of applicant in Study 1 were contacted to get their informed
consent to show their videotapes to new participants. Of the 49 applicants contacted, 26 granted
permission to use their videotapes. For each of the 26 applicants from Study 1, a random 30-s
silent video clip was selected from the first, middle, or last 30-s of the interview. These 26 clips
were compiled into one videotape. By selecting a random 30-s clip we employed the thin slice
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120 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
method. The thin slice method has shown in a variety of past work on affect, personality, and
other individual difference variables that short excerpts of behavior validly and reliably predict
criteria just as well as longer excerpts of behavior do (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1992).
The 140 new participants came into the lab in groups of 1–4 people and were randomly
assigned to evaluate applicants’ suitability (on a 9-point scale) for one of four job types: news-
paper reporter, middle manager, elementary school teacher, or salesperson (see Appendix B for
descriptions of job types). Participants watched each silent 30-sec clip with only the applicant
visible (the interviewer was hidden from view). Participants were given 5 seconds to make a
suitability rating of the applicant immediately after watching each clip.
RESULTS
Reliability of the participants’ suitability ratings across the 26 applicants was good, with
Cronbach’s alpha ranging from .82 to .89 for the four job types. Consequently the suitability rat-
ings were averaged across participants within each job type. The correlation between suitability
and the applicants’ smiling was then examined for each job type. A strong negative correlation
was expected for the more serious demeanor jobs of newspaper reporter and middle manager
while a weaker correlation was expected for the less serious demeanor and more personable jobs
of teacher and salesperson.
Participants who thought it was an interview for a newspaper reporter and middle manager
job rated higher suitability when applicants smiled less: newspaper reporter r(24) = –.54, middle
manager r(24) = –.53. On the other hand, the correlations were weaker as hypothesized when
participants were told it was an interview for a less serious demeanor job type. However, the
correlations were still negative: teacher r(24) = –.34, salesperson r(24) = –.47. The two serious
job type correlations were then aggregated, as were the two less serious job type correlations,
and the correlations for these were: manager and reporter together r(24) = –.54, teacher and
salesperson together r(24) = –.42. The Z-test for the difference between dependent correlations
was used to examine if there was a significant difference in the correlation strength of serious
versus less serious job types (Steiger, 1980). The Z-test was significant, showing that more serious
job types had a significantly stronger negative correlation than less serious job types, Z = 2.35,
p = .019.
DISCUSSION
Study 2 experimentally manipulated raters’ beliefs about the job type while they watched clips
from Study 1 and rated suitability for the job. When raters were led to believe that applicants were
applying for more serious demeanor job types (including newspaper reporter) the relationship
between applicant smiling and suitability was a stronger, more negative correlation than when
raters were led to believe applicants were applying for more affiliative job types (teacher and
sales).
We had hypothesized that the correlation between smiling and hiring could be positive when
viewers thought the interview was for the teacher and sales jobs, consistent with the previous
literature. However, the correlations for these two jobs were still negative, indicating that even
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 121
for those job descriptions more smiling made the applicant seem less suitable. Though we do
not have a confident explanation for this finding, it might stem from the fact that the applicants
had actually been role-playing a serious demeanor job (newspaper reporter) and therefore may
have emitted other cues suggestive of this. If so, excessive smiling would still look out of place.
In other words, the video stimuli were not a blank slate onto which viewers could freely project
their expectations and as a consequence it may not be surprising that merely telling them that it
was a more affiliative type of job was not sufficient to completely reverse the negative correlation.
By parallel logic, if the applicants had actually been applying for a teacher or sales position, the
correlations likely would have been positive and just telling viewers that it was a more serious
demeanor type of job might not have been sufficient to make the correlation go negative. Future
research should address this by manipulating what type of job interview raters believe they are
watching (affiliative or serious demeanor) and show videos of applicants applying for an affiliative
job and a serious demeanor job, not just a serious demeanor job as in Study 2. The important
finding, however, is that in Study 2 telling viewers that it was an affiliative type of job significantly
weakened the negative correlation between smiling and suitability ratings.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
Previous research shows almost unanimously that applicant immediacy behavior including
more smiling is related to positive job interview outcomes (e.g., Abel & Deitz, 2008; DeGroot
& Motowidlo, 1999; Imada & Hakel, 1977). The present studies refine the understanding of the
role of applicant smiling in a role-played job interview by investigating (a) what the expectations
are for smiling for different types of job interviews, (b) whether applicant smiling might be a
liability for being hired when the job requires a businesslike and serious demeanor as opposed
to a more warm, friendly, and affiliative demeanor, (c) the relative importance of smiling as a
single cue (not as one of many components of immediacy behavior) for hiring decisions, (d) how
the time course of smiling during the interview predicts hiring, and (e) how smiling mediates the
relationship between wanting to make a good impression and the hiring outcome.
We showed in a pre-test rating study that people do indeed expect a newspaper reporter to
smile relatively less, to be more businesslike/serious, and to be less nice/agreeable compared to
applicants for several other kinds of jobs, including those already used in the literature on smil-
ing in job interviews. The ratings for newspaper reporter were similar to those for a manager
and research assistant, which were the only jobs in the previous literature not to show a positive
smiling effect (Levine & Feldman, 2002; Fraudendorfer et al., 2014). In a role-play interview for
newspaper reporter (Study 1), we showed that contrary to the existing literature, applicant smil-
ing was negatively related to hiring. To the extent that applicants and recruiters share the same
expectation about whether or not smiling is appropriate for a specific job, the applicant’s com-
pliance with this behavioral expectation will result in a higher probability to be hired. This may
explain why applicants for a newspaper reporter job who smiled less were more likely to be con-
sidered hireable than applicants who smiled more. Study 2 confirmed this claim by manipulating
the job type and having new participants watch videotape clips from Study 1. Raters assigned to
believe they were watching job types that required a more serious demeanor as opposed to more
affiliative demeanor rated those applicants who smiled less as relatively more suitable for the job.
This is one of the first studies to examine smiling in an interview context in which the job
requirements do not focus on sociable skills. Given that most of the popular guidebooks for
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122 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
applicants recommend smiling during the interview, it is important to refine this view and to teach
applicants to take the type of job and the competencies expected for the specific job into account.
The expectation that less smiling is better for a newspaper reporter job can also explain
why applicants who were particularly motivated to make a good impression (and behaved
according to what they thought was expected for the job) were more likely to be hired and that
smiling explained this relation. That is, successful applicants (those likely to be hired) may have
managed the impression they were making on the interviewer by smiling less, especially during
the middle of the interview. An applicant who is motivated to get the job will try to make a
good impression. If he or she thinks that making a good impression for a newspaper reporter job
requires minimal smiling (i.e., being serious, having a “no-nonsense” demeanor) as impression
management theory suggests (Rosenfeld et al., 1995), he or she will smile less. To the extent that
the recruiter shares those behavioral expectations about an applicant for a newspaper reporter
job, the reduced smiling behavior will have a positive impact on hiring. This is exactly what we
found: smiling mediated the relation between the motivation to make a good impression and the
probability of getting hired.
We showed that smiling is an important behavioral cue predictive of hiring. None of the other
nonverbal cues we assessed was as important as smiling. Given that the existing literature on
applicant nonverbal behavior and hiring decisions has often used behavioral composites of imme-
diacy behaviors, it is hard to know which cues were driving the effects found in earlier studies.
For applicant training, it is important to identify the single cues related to getting hired. It is clear
that a decisive cue responsible for the strong (in our case, negative) relation between immediacy
behavior and hiring decision is smiling. Therefore, applicant training should focus on teaching
the applicants to use this cue in impression management and to either smile extensively when the
job requires interpersonal skills or ingratiation (e.g., sales) or smile less when the job requires
seriousness and assertiveness (e.g., newspaper reporter).
Results also showed that the time course of smiling during the interview is important.
Applicants who smiled less in the middle part of the interview as compared to the beginning
and end (quadratic trend) were evaluated more positively, but on the background of an overall
negative correlation between smiling and hiring. In other words, for an applicant it is good to
smile more at the beginning and at the end of the interview compared to the middle but with an
overall low frequency of smiling. The relatively positive effect of smiling at the beginning and end
of an interview is most likely due to the structure of the interview. The greetings at the beginning
and at the end are typically social talk with the goal of relationship building. The assessment of
job-relevant competencies is typically discussed in the middle phase of the interview. Therefore
it seems logical that when the competencies required are associated with less smiling, not smiling
as much during this phase of the interview is beneficial.
Study 1 has a number of limitations. Although we showed the impact of less smiling on
positive hiring decisions independent from other immediacy behaviors, we only assessed ve
nonverbal behaviors of which three clearly qualify as immediacy behaviors (smiling, nodding,
and gazing). Therefore, we do not know whether measuring other nonverbal cues (e.g., frowning,
negative voice quality) would have changed the results. It has to be noted, however, that the list of
potential cues is theoretically endless. The nonverbal cues we measured are (a) often exhibited in
interview situations and (b) often measured in the interview literature. The fact that the zero-order
correlation of smiling with the hiring decision was virtually identical to the correlation controlling
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RUBEN, HALL, AND SCHMID MAST 123
for the other nonverbal cues (and gender) suggests that smiling indeed plays a particularly
important role and that smiling is relatively independent of the other nonverbal cues.
In Study 1, applicants’ or interviewers’ verbal content or voice tone could have impacted
coders’ hireability ratings; however, the correlation remained negative in Study 2 even though we
eliminated the effect of applicants’ vocal tone and verbal content by turning off the audio. Future
research, however, will address how vocal tone and verbal content affects hireability ratings and
if this accounts for variance in hiring decisions above and beyond smiling behavior.
Also, we used a role-play instead of a real job interview situation, although in this regard our
study is like most previous studies on smiling and hiring decisions. Being in a role-play could
have diminished the applicants’ involvement and motivation to perform well. However, external
raters observed and approved of the credibility of each dyadic interaction (see footnote 4). Also,
applicants and interviewers both reported that they adopted their roles well. We also measured
the applicant’s motivation to make a good impression, which is most likely an indicator of how
much the participant was involved and taking the role-play seriously. The more the participants
were motivated to make a good impression, the less likely they were to smile and the more likely
they were to be hired. Given that in a real job interview situation, the applicant typically does
not know exactly the required competence profile for the job and has to rely on stereotypical
beliefs about the competencies required and the corresponding behavior expected, the situation
we created matches an actual job interview situation.
In sum, our results suggest that job applicants cannot blindly follow a behavioral rule in order
to increase the chances of getting hired. First, they have to reflect on the extent of smiling that the
job requires. For some jobs, they are best advised not to smile much. However, it is also important
to fine-tune the timing of one’s smiles. Our results suggest that although the applicant should not
smile much, when he or she does smile, it should be at the beginning and the end of the interview.
NOTES
1. In some studies, less smiling is associated with more perceived dominance. However, this is a very inconsistent
finding in the literature and sometimes the relation goes the other way (Hall, Coats, & Smith LeBeau, 2005).
2. Ten psychology faculty and graduate students in the Northeastern University Psychology Department, who were not
acquainted with the current research, were asked to rate on a scale of 1–9 how much smiling would be advanta-
geous and desirable for a person in each of the following jobs: salesperson, newspaper reporter, middle manager, and
elementary school teacher. A repeated measures ANOVA on the rated expectations of smiling in each job was signif-
icant, F(3, 27) = 9.15, p < .001. Contrasts showed that smiling was rated as significantly (p < .01) less desirable and
advantageous in newspaper reporters (M = 5.90) than in salespersons (M = 8.60) and elementary school teachers
(M = 8.80), but not middle managers (M = 6.70) (Ruben, Hall, & Schmid Mast, 2012).
3. In order to rule out physical attractiveness as a biasing factor in perceptions, three coders rated applicants and inter-
viewers for physical attractiveness on a 9-point scale and their ratings were averaged to form a physical attractiveness
composite. Because it did not correlate with the applicant’s total smiling or with the coders’ ratings of hireability, all
p > .42, physical attractiveness is not discussed further.
4. To ensure that the interviews were perceived by an observer as realistic, one coder watched each dyadic interaction
with the instruction to identify dyads in which applicants and/or interviewers were not getting into their roles and
behaving in a manner inconsistent with an interview setting (e.g., goofing off, not following instructions). No dyads
were eliminated as all dyadic interactions were rated as consistent with behaviors appropriate for an interview.
5. In the post-experimental questionnaire, the interviewer also rated whether he/she would hire the applicant, on a 9-
point scale. This variable also was also negatively predicted by the applicant’s smiling, both as a zero-order correlation
(r = –.45, p < .05) and as a standardized regression coefficient when the other nonverbal behaviors were entered
simultaneously with smiling, gender, and applicant dominance/control (β =−.44, p < .01).
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124 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
AUTHOR NOTES
Mollie A. Ruben is affiliated with the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs. Judith A. Hall is affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Northeastern University. Marianne
Schmid Mast is affiliated with the Department of Organizational Behavior, University of Lausanne.
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Received April 8, 2014
Accepted August 29, 2014
APPENDIX A
Study 1
Instructions for Applicant
You are to imagine that you are applying for a part-time position as a news reporter for a news-
paper, the Auburn News. Your suitability for the job as a reporter will be evaluated by the
interviewer, who is the editor of the newspaper. The reporter job would entail assisting senior
employees and writing two articles a week to appear in the local news section. You should assume
that you have never held a similar job. The interviewer can ask you any questions he/she feels
are relevant to finding out whether you are suitable for the job.
Instructions for Interviewer
You are to imagine you are the editor of a newspaper, the Auburn News, attempting to find the
right person for the part-time position of reporter. This position would entail assisting senior
employees and writing two articles a week for the local news section of the paper. You will
evaluate whether the applicant is suitable for the job. You can ask any questions you feel are
relevant to the interview, such as background information, word processing ability, reliability,
and writing ability.
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126 THE JOURNAL OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
APPENDIX B
Study 2 (Job Descriptions)
Teacher
You are to imagine that you are the vice president of an elementary school, Joseph’s Elementary,
attempting to find the right person for the part-time position of a first grade teacher. This position
would entail teaching students, establishing and enforcing rules for behavior and procedures, cre-
ating and coordinating lesson plans, scheduling after school activities, and attending weekly staff
meetings to support the students’ academic development. You will evaluate a series of poten-
tial applicants interviewing for the job and determine the suitability of each of the applicants.
Remember to keep in mind the job of first grade teacher that the applicant is applying for when
making your ratings.
Salesperson
You are to imagine you are the corporate officer of a large advertising sales agency, JP Sales
and Associates, attempting to find the right person for the part-time position of a sales person.
This position would entail selling advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact
potential clients, make sales presentations and maintain client accounts. You will evaluate a series
of potential applicants interviewing for the job and determine the suitability of each of the appli-
cants. Remember to keep in mind the job of sales person that the applicant is applying for when
making your ratings.
Manager
You are to imagine that you are the human resources director of in an insurance agency, Ramsgate
Insurance, attempting to find the right person for the part-time position of midlevel manager. This
position would entail monitoring activities of subordinates while reporting to upper management.
You will evaluate a series of potential applicants interviewing for the job and determine the suit-
ability of each of the applicants. Remember to keep in mind the job of middle manager that the
applicant is applying for when making your ratings.
Newspaper Reporter
You are to imagine that you are the editor of a newspaper, the Auburn News, attempting to find
the right person for the part-time position of reporter. This position would entail assisting senior
employees and writing two articles a week for the local news section of the paper. You will
evaluate a series of potential applicants interviewing for the job and determine the suitability of
each of the applicants. Remember to keep in mind the job of newspaper reporter that the applicant
is applying for when making your ratings.
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... Competence was negatively related to smiling in jobs that required a serious demeanour, perhaps because smiling was judged to be inappropriate for the job (Ruben et al., 2015). Regarding the third hypothesis, females were found to be more trustworthy and more competent than males which partly subverted expectations. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Trait inferences from first impressions are drawn rapidly and spontaneously. However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced interactions online introducing differential influential factors on first impressions. As such, there is an absence of research investigating video background on videoconferencing impression formation. This study explored the influence of video background, facial expression, and gender on first impressions of trustworthiness and competence. Video background affected trustworthy and competence perceptions with Plants, Books and Blank backgrounds scoring highly on both dimensions while the Home, Blurred Home and Novelty backgrounds consistently received the lowest ratings. Happy faces were perceived as more trustworthy and more competent while female faces were also rated as more trustworthy and more competent, regardless of the background they were using. The explanations for these findings are discussed, along with future directions for research and the implications for videoconferencing use.
... Yet the act of camouflaging is cognitively effortful and taxing; prone to breakdown under increased social demands and complexity and/or psychological distress; and associated with increased mental health difficulties behaviours from others. For example, experimental studies demonstrate that: individuals who disclose more personal information during getting-to-know-you conversations are rated as more likeable (Sprecher et al., 2014); individuals who ask more follow-up questions during speed dating situations are more likely to elicit agreement for a second date (Huang et al., 2017); and individuals who smile less during job interviews are rated as more suitable candidates for roles associated with a serious demeanours (Ruben et al., 2015). However, given camouflaging behaviours as well as the social interactions in which these behaviours occur are often numerous and complex, it may be difficult for participants to retrospectively freerecall all their camouflaging behaviours. ...
Thesis
Some autistic individuals modify their innate autistic social behaviour in order to adapt to, cope within, and/or influence the predominately non-autistic social environment; a phenomenon often termed ‘camouflaging’ (Attwood, 2007; Dean et al., 2017; Hull et al., 2017; Lai et al., 2017; Schuck et al., 2019). Camouflaging is one social coping strategy used by autistic people attempting to overcome social challenges within cross-neurotype social interactions and secure employment, develop friendships and romantic relationships, and avoid stigmatisation (Cage & Troxell-Whitman, 2019; Hull et al., 2017). Yet the act of camouflaging is thought to be cognitively effortful and taxing; prone to breakdown under increased social demands and complexity and/or psychological distress; and associated with increased mental health difficulties, misdiagnosis, and identity confusion (e.g., Beck et al., 2020; Cage & Troxell-Whitman, 2019; Cassidy et al., 2018; Hull et al., 2021; Lai et al., 2017; Livingston, Colvert, et al., 2019). Camouflaging research is in infancy; conceptualisations, definitions and measures of camouflaging are still emerging, and much is unknown about relationships between camouflaging and various constructs such as mental health, wellbeing, and the achievement of important social and employment outcomes. This thesis presents a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to further current understanding of social coping in autistic people by furthering the current conceptualisation of camouflaging including camouflaging behaviours and processes; examining the relationships between camouflaging and social, employment, and mental health outcomes; and exploring social experiences that contrast with camouflaging. The first chapter provides a general introduction to, and overview of, the relevant background research and provides a rationale for the work presented in the thesis. Chapter 2 involves a discussion of methodological considerations involved in the design and analysis of research presented in the thesis. Chapter 3, a systematic review, provides a comprehensive and critical evaluation of the current quantitative camouflaging research base; identifying consistencies in the current evidence as well as issues that require further research. Chapters 4 and 5 describe an interpersonal recall study, using thematic analysis to detail the development, process, and consequences of camouflaging (Chapter 4) and content analysis to describe the behaviours exhibited, altered, or avoided by autistic adults when camouflaging (Chapter 5). Chapter 6, a quantitative cross-sectional study, details associations between camouflaging and social and employment outcomes and indicators of mental health difficulties/psychological distress. Chapter 7 involves a qualitative survey and uses thematic analysis to explore an alternative to camouflaging, specifically autistic adults’ experiences of socialising in ways that feel authentic to them. The final chapter (Chapter 8) provides an overarching discussion of the findings and implications of the thesis with consideration to strengths and limitations.
... In one study, too much smiling led to lower evaluations when candidates were applying for positions in business and education. Overly expressive individuals were assumed to be too unprofessional for the job (Ruben et al., 2015). Buck and Powers (2013) suggest that overly expressive individuals may be seen as trying to be the center of attention, leading to disapproval. ...
Chapter
There is a general assumption that when it comes to possession of nonverbal skills, having more skill is better. This chapter argues that some nonverbal/emotional skills may actually be curvilinear (inverted U-shaped distribution), with a moderate, or “optimal” level of skill possession. For example, too little emotional control, or too much of it, may be dysfunctional. The same curvilinear relationship may hold for skill in expressing (encoding) and decoding emotions. In actuality, there needs to be some balance among the various nonverbal cues in order to be truly emotionally competent. Research results are discussed as well as implications for training nonverbal and emotional skills.
... However, plethora of studies conducted indicated that the duration of the interview process shurts happiness including the performance of job applicants in most developing countries where there are few resources to support job applicants. The relationship between the duration of the interview and anxiety among jobseekers was examined by [15]. The study found that long hour interview duration impaired hiring but it mediated the job-seekers motivation for making a good impression and hiring applicants. ...
Article
Full-text available
A phenomenological research design was used to examine the perceived anxiety and its implications of the academic job interview in a recently concluded interview setting at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. A total of 25 participants were purposively selected to participate in the study. Data were analysed using content analysis. The result of the content analysis revealed that applicants who went through stress, nervousness and poor coping skills were triggered from by personal factors while agony were as was triggered from external factors and they all had negative implications on interview performance. Also from the content analysis, participants reported unnecessary delay and extension of interview days had tendencies to elevate anxiety and state of melancholy among the applicants. Participants reported poor organisation on the part of the organisers and poor preparation of the applicants' students were other factors that affected the levels of nervousness, anxiety and agony during the job interview. However, anxiety and nervousness were moderated by previous job experiences of some applicants. Applicants into the lower academic positions were more likely than those applying for senior positions to feel more anxious and nervous. The study made recommendations to both applicants and the University administration on the need for providing a cushion effect towards reduction of anxiety among job seekers of academic positions in the country.
... Research with non-autistic people suggests that distinct subtypes of verbal and non-verbal behaviours function within specific interpersonal situations to invite distinct interpersonal reactions and behaviours from others. For example, experimental studies demonstrate that: individuals who disclose more personal information during getting-to-know-you conversations are rated as more likeable (Sprecher, Treger, & Wondra, 2013), individuals who ask more follow-up questions during speed dating situations are more likely to elicit agreement for a second date (Huang, Yeomans, Brooks, Minson, & Gino, 2017) and individuals who smile less during job interviews are rated as more suitable candidates for roles associated with a serious demeanour (Ruben, Hall, & Schmid Mast, 2015). In the case of camouflaging, a detailed description and understanding of both camouflaging behaviour as well as the immediate interpersonal consequences of such behaviours is required to delineate relationships between camouflaging and various social and functional outcomes. ...
Article
Full-text available
Lay abstract: Camouflaging can be thought of as the process through which autistic people modify their natural social behaviours to adapt to, cope within or influence the largely neurotypical (non-autistic) social world. Many autistic people experience negative reactions to their natural or intuitive social behaviours when interacting with non-autistic people. Over time, in response to these negative reactions, autistic people's social behaviour often changes. We refer to autistic people's changed behaviours as 'camouflaging behaviours'. Research exploring camouflaging behaviours is still at an early stage. This study investigated camouflaging behaviours used by autistic adults in everyday social interactions using a research method that was new to the field of autism. Specifically, 17 autistic adults were filmed taking part in a common everyday social situation - a conversation with a stranger. With the help of the video of this conversation, they then showed and described their camouflaging behaviours to a researcher. These autistic people identified and described a total of 38 different camouflaging behaviours. The detailed and specific information provided by autistic adults about camouflaging behaviours generated important new insights into the ways in which autistic people adapt to, cope within and influence the neurotypical (non-autistic) social world.
... Also, readers should be clear that we are not concerned with comparisons of mean levels of any given coded or rated behavior (for example, whether the amount of smiling varies across slices). While that question is of great interest for some research purposes (e.g., Ruben et al., 2015), it does not speak to the representativeness of slices, which is assessed via inter-slice correlations or by slice-total correlations. ...
Article
Full-text available
Thin slices are used across a wide array of research domains to observe, measure, and predict human behavior. This article reviews the thin-slice method as a measurement technique and summarizes current comparative thin-slice research regarding the reliability and validity of thin slices to represent behavior or social constructs. We outline decision factors in using thin-slice behavioral coding and detail three avenues of thin-slice comparative research: (1) assessing whether thin slices can adequately approximate the total of the recorded behavior or be interchangeable with each other (representativeness); (2) assessing how well thin slices can predict variables that are different from the behavior measured in the slice (predictive validity), and (3) assessing how interpersonal judgment accuracy can depend on the length of the slice (accuracy-length validity). The aim of the review is to provide information researchers may use when designing and evaluating thin-slice behavioral measurement.
Article
What candidates say in an interview is important – but so is how they say it. We draw on dual‐process theory to explain why interviewers rely on individuals’ dynamic and static nonverbal cues to evaluate performance with quick, implicit inferences (System 1 processing). Yet, it remains unclear which cues most influence interviewers’ judgments and whether moderators affecting interviewers’ reliance on System 1 thinking (e.g., interview structure, modality, duration, interviewee gender) impact the relationship between nonverbal cues and interview ratings. We performed the first meta‐analysis to address these questions, integrating findings across 63 studies (N = 4,868). The nonverbal cues demonstrating the strongest association with interview performance were professional appearance (ρ = .62), eye contact (ρ = .45), and head movement (ρ = .43). Moderator analyses highlight the persistent power of nonverbal cues, as the results were largely unaffected by interview structure, modality, or duration. Experimental design did play a role, as did interviewees’ gender, with stronger effects for certain nonverbal cues (e.g., facial expressions, professional appearance) for women than men, conveying interviewers’ reliance on gender‐based stereotypes when judging their performance. Overall, these results suggest nonverbal cues and characteristics are an important influence on job applicants’ success in employment interviews.
Article
The purpose of this study was to discover what nonverbal facial behaviors are important in an interview setting. This was done by conducting interviews with eight current employers as well as four college age persons who have recently interviewed for a job. As a result, the data suggests that the two main facial behaviors sought by employers in the interview of the applicant were smiling and eye contact. Other nonverbal communication behaviors were analyzed as well. These findings will allow people to be better prepared and be more conscious of what they are displaying in the interview setting in the terms of nonverbal facial cues when interviewing for a future career.
Article
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It turns out that being good‐looking really does pay off: decades of research have shown that attractive individuals are more likely to get ahead in their careers. Although prior research has suggested that bias on the part of evaluators is the source of attractive individuals’ favorable career outcomes, there is also evidence that these individuals may be socialized to behave and perceive themselves differently from others in ways that contribute to their success. Building on socialization research and studies on nonverbal power cues, we examined nonverbal communication in individuals with varying degrees of physical attractiveness. In two experimental studies with data from 300 video interview pitches, we found that attractive individuals had a greater sense of power than their less attractive counterparts and thus exhibited a more effective nonverbal presence, which led to higher managerial ratings of their hirability. However, we also identified a potential means for leveling this gap. Adopting a powerful posture was found to be especially beneficial for individuals rated low in attractiveness, enabling them to achieve the same level of effective nonverbal presence as their highly attractive counterparts naturally displayed. Our research sheds new light on the source of attractive individuals’ success and suggests a possible remedy for individuals who lack an appearance advantage.
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Nonverbal behavior coding is typically conducted by “hand”. To remedy this time and resource intensive undertaking, we illustrate how nonverbal social sensing, defined as the automated recording and extracting of nonverbal behavior via ubiquitous social sensing platforms, can be achieved. More precisely, we show how and what kind of nonverbal cues can be extracted and to what extent automated extracted nonverbal cues can be validly obtained with an illustrative research example. In a job interview, the applicant’s vocal and visual nonverbal immediacy behavior was automatically sensed and extracted. Results show that the applicant’s nonverbal behavior can be validly extracted. Moreover, both visual and vocal applicant nonverbal behavior predict recruiter hiring decision, which is in line with previous findings on manually coded applicant nonverbal behavior. Finally, applicant average turn duration, tempo variation, and gazing best predict recruiter hiring decision. Results and implications of such a nonverbal social sensing for future research are discussed.
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Using videotaped interviews with 60 managers in utility companies, the authors found that a composite of vocal interview cues (pitch, pitch variability, speech rate, pauses, and amplitude variability) correlated with supervisory ratings of job performance (r = .18, p < .05). Using videotaped interviews with 110 managers in a news-publishing company, the authors found that the same composite of vocal cues correlated with performance ratings (r = .20, p < .05) and with interviewers’ judgments (r = .20, p < .05) and that a composite of visual cues (physical attractiveness, smiling, gaze, hand movement, and body orientation) correlated with performance ratings (r = .14, p < .07) and with interviewers’ judgments (r = .21, p < .05). Results of tests of mediation effects indicate that personal reactions such as liking, trust, and attributed credibility toward interviewees explain relationships (a) between job performance and vocal cues and (b) between interviewers’ judgments and both visual and vocal cues.
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The current study examined the nonverbal displays of men and women in mock job interviews. Specifically, we investigated how the nonverbal behavior of more successful applicants differed from the nonverbal behavior of less successful applicants. Participants served as interviewees for a mock job interview and their interviews were coded for the performance of a number of critical nonverbal behaviors. Analyses of the performances revealed differential patterns of nonverbal behavior associated with high and low likability for women and men. In addition, high self-monitors were perceived as less anxious by judges and more competent by interviewers, and as happier by both judges and interviewers as compared to low self-monitors. Most people share a belief in the importance of positively presenting themselves to new people—starting out interpersonal relationships on the "right foot." Numerous industries are devoted to preparing people for that first encounter, whether it be a date, an introduction to a new roommate, or a job interview. The cosmetics and fashion industries are devoted to making people look right, while books, videos, and seminars have sprung up in order to teach people to say the right things and to instruct them on the proper ways to present themselves physically. Industrial/organizational psychologists have taken a particular interest in the area of impression management, particularly in terms of applicant behavior in job interviews. While the accuracy, reliability, and validity of job interviews are still commonly questioned, the employment interview is still widely used (Judge, Higgins, & Cable, 2000; Kennedy, 1994). Consequently, knowledge regarding strategies for successful interviewing as well as information regarding biases involved in the employment interview process are extremely important. What can people do to improve their performances in job interviews? A fairly typical preparatory text on job interviewing makes the following recommendations regarding nonverbal behavior in interviews: Make eye contact throughout the entire interview, but don't overdo it. You're not engaged in a staring contest with Clint Eastwood. And staring without pause at the interviewer will not make his day...Keep an eye on your body— figuratively, that is. Be sure that
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This study investigated impression management tactic use during structured interviews containing both experience-based and situational questions. Specifically, the authors examined whether applicants' use of impression management tactics depended on question type. Results from 119 structured interviews indicated that almost all of the applicants used some form of impression management. Significantly more assertive than defensive impression management tactics were used, and among assertive tactics, applicants tended to use self-promotion rather than ingratiation. However, different question types prompted the use of different impression management tactics. Ingratiation tactics were used significantly more when applicants answered situational questions, whereas self-promotion tactics were used significantly more when applicants answered experience-based questions. Furthermore, the use of self-promotion and ingratiation tactics was positively related to interviewer evaluations.
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In a variety of situations in psychological research, it is desirable to be able to make statistical comparisons between correlation coefficients measured on the same individuals. For example, an experimenter may wish to assess whether two predictors correlate equally with a criterion variable. In another situation, the experimenter may wish to test the hypothesis that an entire matrix of correlations has remained stable over time. The present article reviews the literature on such tests, points out some statistics that should be avoided, and presents a variety of techniques that can be used safely with medium to large samples. Several illustrative numerical examples are provided.
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This research investigates the news coverage of male and female reporters at 3 U.S. daily newspapers to determine whether gender differences result in reporting differences. Results of the content analysis revealed reporter differences due to gender for sourcing, story topic, and story tone in that female reporters drew upon a greater diversity of sources, stereotyped less, and wrote more positive stories than did male reporters. The size of the newspaper and ratio of male-to-female reporters and editors mediated these differences to a large degree, Socialization is offered as a theoretical explanation for the findings, and follow-up interviews with female reporters at each newspaper confirmed that socialization processes contributed to the reporting differences found here.
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Three experiments studied the influence on hiring decisions of the nonverbal communication of female job applicants. The first experiment found ratings of the applicants' subtle cues to be significant predictors of the hiring decisions made by college-student judges. Professional employment interviewers served as judges in the second study to cross-validate the first experiment. The third study measured the relative contributions of work histories and nonverbal behavior to hiring decisions. Regardless of the work history preceding the applicant, nonverbal style had a statistically significant effect on hiring decisions.
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Although folk wisdom suggests that a smile may enhance physical attractiveness, most studies in the area have failed to consider or control this factor. The present study was intended to examine the impact of smiling on judgements of physical attractiveness and other characteristics stereotypically ascribed to attractive persons. Consistent with predictions, it was found that smiling increased rated attractiveness when compared to a non‐smiling neutral expression. The necessity for controlling this factor in studies of attractiveness is therefore indicated. It was also demonstrated that smiling subjects were attributed greater degrees of sincerity, sociability, and competence, but lesser levels of independence and masculinity. Mediation analysis revealed that the effects of smiling on trait attribution were not due to increases in perceived attractiveness, suggesting that the impact of smiling on ratings of beauty and goodness occurs through independent processes. Potential explanations and implications of these processes were discussed.