According to new research by Anna Koczwara, Jo Silvester, and Vibeke Meinke from Goldsmiths College, gender stereotypes have been found to evade even the most sophisticated of recruitment interviews, with interviewers subconsciously preferring different body language from male and female candidates.
The researchers found that women who adopted more ‘feminine’ behaviours, such as looking away, were rated more highly than females who used more masculine or assertive behaviours. The reverse was found to be true for males. Men who made more direct contact and fiddled less were rated more highly than their male colleagues.
Furthermore, in terms of the verbal behaviours associated with interview success, male candidates who articulate their responsibility for the outcome of a situation were rate more highly than other male colleagues. For example, saying ‘I got the job because I spent a long time researching the company’ was rated more highly than saying ‘I was just lucky’. Interestingly, this effect is not found to be significant in female candidates.
The research was based on a study of sixty final year undergraduate students who took part in simulated selection interviews with trained interviewers. In essence, stereotypes of what is a ‘good’ female or ‘good’ male candidates were found to exist. The researchers hope that the study would raise awareness among interviewers to enable them to guard against such unconscious discrimination.
The research was presented at the British Psychological Scoeity’s Occupational Psychology Conference.