Effects of the Non-Verbal Behaviour of Interviewers on Candidates Performance

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Transcript of Effects of the Non-Verbal Behaviour of Interviewers on Candidates Performance

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    / . occup. Psychol. 1976,49, 171-176. Printed in Great Britain

    Effectso the non-verbal behaviourointerviewersoncandidates performanceA. KEENAN

    Heriot Watt University EdinburghTwenty-four neutral observers evaluated the performance of candidates in twomock selection interviews. Unknown to the observers, candidates received non-verbal approval from one interviewer and non-verbal disapproval from the other.Candidates were perceived as more comfortable and at ease in the approvalinterview and were also judged to have created a better impression. The resultswere discussed in terms of the possibility that an interviewer's non-verbal stylemay significantly influence the behaviour of the candidate he is trying to evaluate.

    Until comparatively recently, researchon the selection interview consisted mainlyofattemptstoestimateitsreliabilityandvalidity. Reviewsofthis work suggest thattheinterview often lacks validity (Wagner, 1949;Mayfield, 1964;Ulrich T ru m b o ,1965). Followingan influential seriesofstudies repo rtedby Webster (1964), researchontheinterviewhasincreasingly focused on theprocesses involved when interviewersmake decisions, rather than on the direct determination of validity coefficients (Wright,1969; Ash Kro eker, 1975). Presumab ly, the aim of many of these studiesis toisolate someof the variables which affect thevalidity of the interview.Clearlytheimpressionan interviewer formsof acandidate willberelatedto theinformation exchangedin the interview. While much of this would be at theverballevel, research on social interaction in non-interview situations demonstrates thatmany non-verbal behaviours also have communicative significance (Argyle,1969;Me hrab ian, 1969). Keen an W edderb urn (1975) found that the non-verbal behaviourof interviewers affected theimpressions cand idates formed ofthem.Inthis labo ratorystudy, candidates formed a more favourable impression ofinterviewerswhoemittedfrequent non-verbal signals of approval compared with interviewers who gavefrequent non-verbal signals indicativeofdisapproval. Having thus dem onstrated thatinterviewer non-verbal be haviour cou ld influence cand idates' perceptions, the q uestionremainsas towhether the cand idates' performance was also affected as aresultofthisexperimental m anipulation.Toinvestigate this possibilitya further investigationwas

    carriedout inwhich judges were askedtoevaluatetheperformance ofcandidatesinthe approvaland disapproval conditionsof the original study.METHODFull detailsofthe procedu res usedtoproduce the videotapes which were the basicmaterialsinthe present investigatio n ar e givenin aprevious paper (Keenan Wedder-burn, 1975). Briefly, eight experimenters role-played thepart of interviewers and 24subjects actedas candidates. Each candidatewas interviewed onceby aninterviewerwho gave frequent non-verbal signalsofapproval,andonceby a different interviewerwho gave frequent non-verbal signalsofdisapproval. Non-verbal approval w as opera-tionalizedas smiles, positive head nodsand eye contact. Non-verbal disapprovalwas

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    172 A. KHEN N

    defined as frowns, head shaking and avoidance of eye contact. Although the verbalbehaviour of the interviewers was held essentially constant by using the same standardinterview protocol for every candidate, interviewers were allowed to deviate slightlyfrom the protocol if they felt that this was absolutely necessary in order to maintain anatural interaction sequence. For example, the nature of some of the answers given bycandidates occasionally required a follow-up question from the interviewer. The final16 interviews between the eight interviewers and eight candidates were recorded onsplit-screen videotap e. These tapes were used as materials for the present investigation.

    Since 12 tapes was regarded as an ideal num ber to use in the present expe rimentfor practical reasons, interviews given by six interviewers to six candidates wereselected by randomly excluding four tapes involving two interviewers and two candi-dates. Four of the six remaining interviewers were male, while all six candidates weremale. There was an approval a nd a d isapproval tape for each candidate, conducted bydifferent interviewers on each occasion. Each interviewer conducted one approval andone disapproval interview. The order of presentation of conditions in the originalstudy was counterbalanced across subjects.

    The 24 subjects who were to act as judges in the experiment were all under-graduate students of business. The sample consisted of 18 males and six females. Therewere three experimental periods, each of which was concerned with two differentcandidates. Each subject was allocated to one of these periods with approximatelyequal numbers in each (some subjects failed to turn up so that the final numbers were6, 8 and 10 in each period). Judges observed both interviews for each of the twocandidates in their period. One candidate was shown in the approval condition first,while the order of presentation was reversed for the other candidate.

    Subjects were not told the true nature of the original experiment. Instead, theywere informed that they were taking part in a training evaluation exercise. It wasexplained th at one of each candidate s interviews had taken place just prior to hisparticipation in a course designed to improve his skills as an interviewee, while theothe r had taken place shortly after this course. As judg es, they were required toevaluate the candidate s performance in each interview blind , i.e. withou t knowledgeof the true tem poral order of the interviews (this had supposedly been random ized bythe experimenter). This would then be a measure of the effectiveness of the training.Judges observed the performance of the first candidate in both interviews with theinterviewer s half of the screen ob literated so that visual cues from the interviewercould not interfere with their judgements. They then completed a forced-choiceques tionna ire in which they had to indicate which of a list of 14 categories of cand idateperformance differed between interviews. This procedure was repeated for the secondcandidate. When debriefing was carried out after all 24 subjects had completed theexperiment, there was no indication that anyone suspected the purpose of the experi-ment .

    Table presents the judge s ratings of the performance of the six candidates in theapproval and disapproval conditions. Each judge contributed two scores to eachcategory, one for each candidate.Considering those occasions when observers perceived a difference in candidateperformance from one interview to another, the question arises as to whether these

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    EFFECTS OF NON VERBAL BEHAVIOUR ON PERFORMANCE 173

    c d c o o o c c f o oV V V V V

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    174 A. KEENAN

    differences are systematically relatedto theapproval/disappro val conditions.If thiswere the case, then thedistribution of responses across conditions should deviatesignificantly fromthe50:50 expectedbychance.Itcanbeseen from Table that thisoccurredfor six out of the 14 categoriesofcandidate behaviour listed. Thus, candi-dates were judgedto be more relaxed, more comfortable andlessill at easein theapproval condition. They were seen as being more friendly towards the approvinginterviewer, and were also judged to be more talkativeinthe approval con dition. W ithregard to the latter finding, altho ugh there was a tendency for candidates in theapproval conditionto beseenas more articulate, this difference wasnotstatisticallyreliable.It is noteworthy that candidatesin theapp rov al co ndition were perceivedasbeing more successful increatingagood impression. However, they werenotseenasmore competentin theapproval interview.

    DISCUSSIONThis study has shown that the non-verbal style of interviewersin amock selectioninterview can infiuencethebehaviourofcandidatesasperceived by neu tral observers.Non-verbal approval appearstoresult inacand idate being b etter able to createagoodimpression, perhaps becausehe feels more relaxedand at ease under these circum-stances. However, the judges seemedto differentiate between the impressionacandi-date manages to create and his competence, since thelatter was not significantlyrelatedtonon-verbal app roval. Perhaps com petence was seen as something more thanjust performing wellinthe interviewitself,unlike the itemoncreatingagood impres-sion. Although the observersinthe present experiment tho ught th at candidates talkedmoreinthe approval c ondition , the actual verbal outpu tintermsofthe percentageoftotal interview time candidates spent talkingin theapprovalanddisapproval condi-tionsofthe experiment was m easuredinthe Keen an & Wedderburn (1975) study an dno differences were found. Perhapsthe observers assumed that 'talkative' referredtoquality rather than quantityof verbal outputinthe present contex t

    By comparing the resultsof the present investigation with thoseofthe KeenanWedderburn (1975) experiment,it is possibleto lookat the relationship betweenacandidate's impressions when faced with approv ing and disapproving interviewers andhis behaviour as perceived by neutral observers. This comparison is quite ap prop riate,since both studies involved the same experimental situation, and the candidates whosebehaviotir was observedforthis report were respondents in the Keenan & W edderburnstudy. Although they were unaware that non-verbal approval was being manipul