Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Forget Skills & Experience: Are You Nice?

I have often wondered why prospective employers asked me whether I'd looked at their web site. Were they checking to find whether I'm thick enough to believe that it would actually reflect what it would be like to work in their organisation?

Of course not. Just my cynicism working overtime again.

They might have been trying to find out if I can play nice though. Here's what Richard Wiseman says, in 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute: "After analyzing the mass of data, the research team exploded some of the myths about why interviewers choose candidates for a  job, discovering a surprising reality. Did the likelihood depend on qualifications? Or was it work experience? In fact, it was neither. It was just one important factor—did the candidate appear to be a pleasant person?" [italics mine, eh]

So that's it: nobody cares whether you can do the job! Just smile, maintain eye contact, don't worry and be happy.

Well, almost. By the time you're interviewed the employer has already studied your résumé, and many will have the sense to check your references and credentials afterwards. However, the startling revelation that the interviews themselves are not entirely objective ways of evaluating candidates does not appear to have percolated through to everyone yet.

This and the other notes in Wiseman's book are useful and tantalising at the same time. Each needs further research to be fully useful to practitioners, in my opinion. Indeed, in this case, I notice that quite a number of researchers have picked up the thread.

This one looks very useful: http://www.umsl.edu/divisions/artscience/psychology/Research%20Info%20Files/Macan%20(2009).pdf

You might wish to use Google Scholar for more.

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