The Advantage of Being Oneself: The Role of Applicant Self-Verification in Organizational Hiring Decisions

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Abstract

In this paper, we explore whether individuals who strive to self-verify flourish or flounder on the job market. Using placement data from 2 very different field samples, we found that individuals rated by the organization as being in the top 10% of candidates were significantly more likely to receive a job offer if they have a stronger drive to self-verify. A third study, using a quasi-experimental design, explored the mechanism behind this effect and tested whether individuals who are high and low on this disposition communicate differently in a structured mock job interview. Text analysis (LIWC) of interview transcripts revealed systematic differences in candidates’ language use as a function of their self-verification drives. These differences led an expert rater to perceive candidates with a strong drive to self-verify as less inauthentic and less misrepresentative than their low self-verifying peers, making her more likely to recommend these candidates for a job. Taken together, our results suggest that authentic self-presentation is an unidentified route to success on the job market, amplifying the chances that high-quality candidates can convert organizations’ positive evaluations into tangible job offers. We discuss implications for job applicants, organizations, and the labor market.

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