De Gustibus (Non) est Disputandum: From First Impression to Selection in Employment Interview

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Valcea, Sorin
Hamdani, Maria
Dougherty, Thomas
Florea, Liviu
Washburn University. School of Business
Kaw Valley Bank
Issue Date
October 2014
Alternative Title
This paper empirically analyzes the interviewer-interviewee interaction during semi-structured employment interviews. It searches to identify the manner in which selection decisions are influenced by interviewers' first impressions and factors that account for the relationships between first impressions and selection decisions. Data collected from interviews conducted in a major public Midwestern university are part of the selection information for the admission in a graduate program. The multi-level analysis of the data reveals that first impressions have a significant effect on selection decisions, but do not significantly influence interviewers' behaviors during employment interviews. Data analysis also indicates that interviewers' need for cognition and interviewers' accountability moderate the relationship between first impression and selection decision, albeit in opposite directions. Our results indicate that need for cognition strengthens and accountability weakens the relationship between first impression and selection decision. The present study goes beyond previous research on confirmatory behavior and shows that dispositional differences can account for the tendency to weigh first impressions more in the selection decision. In conclusions of our analyses, we suggest that the interview structure may not necessarily eliminate a cognitive bias in the employment interview decision-making.