A Self-Regulation Perspective of Applicant Behavior in the Employment Interview
The job interview is an evaluative situation that evokes considerable self-regulation for many job candidates, wherein they monitor their responses and behaviour closely. For example, interviewees focus on creating a favourable self-presentation or actively suppressing their feelings of interview anxiety, which are both critical to succeeding in the job interview and require significant cognitive resources. My dissertation focused on two independent research questions that explored the role of self-regulation in the job interview from the perspective of the job candidate. The first question was to examine whether portraying a favourable self-presentation in the job interview is cognitively taxing. In Study 1, laboratory participants were assigned to an incongruent or congruent self-presentation condition and were asked to complete the Ravens Progressive Matrices following the interview. Consistent with past research, I hypothesized that participants in the incongruent condition (e.g., unfamiliar self-presentation) would require more cognitive resources than those in the congruent condition (e.g., familiar self-presentation), and as a result would perform worse and persist less on a second task that is cognitively demanding. I also investigated whether interview anxiety and trait self-control would moderate the relation between condition and persistence (or performance) on the Ravens Matrices. The hypotheses in Study 1 were largely unsupported and highlight the importance of investigating causal mechanisms that underlie self-regulation and self-control. My second research question focused on whether those who experience interview anxiety direct their attention internally and consequently, engage in excessive levels of self-regulation. In Study 2, a community-based sample of participants who struggle with their interview anxiety participated in two interviews. All participants completed the same first interview and were assigned to one of four conditions (positive imagery, field, placebo, control condition) prior to their second interview. I examined changes in interview anxiety, self-focused attention and negative self-thought, interviewing self-efficacy and interview performance from interview 1 to interview 2. The results of Study 2 suggested that interview anxiety, self-focused attention, and interviewing self-efficacy improved significantly over time for those in the experimental and placebo conditions, but not in the control condition. Theoretical and practical implications as well as recommendations for future research are discussed.