Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Employers, You Should Not Be Selling the Job in the Interview


There’s only one person who should be doing the hard sell during an interview—and it’s not the employer.

That’s the finding of a recent paper titled “Do interviewers sell themselves short? The effects of selling orientation on interviewers’ judgments.” Jennifer Marr, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dan M. Cable whose research at the London Business School focuses on cultural fit and career success, conclude:

The more interviewers adopt a selling orientation, the less able they are to make judgments that accurately predict applicants future success as newcomers.

This runs counter to previous research, which has found job candidates like to be sold or pitched to on a job, and interviewers feel they are being effective and landing the candidate. But spending so much time in sales mode often means neglecting to dig into the candidate’s work style or other details that would show if she fits in the job and the corporate culture.

“We can’t be focusing on two or more goals at once,” Marr told Quartz. One of the motivations—selling or seeing whether values and skills match—will dominate the interview. Even very competent interviewers experienced the same difficulty and could not simultaneously evaluate and encourage the candidate to join their organization, Marr says.

In instances where the candidate is highly regarded and the organization is most enthused about them, the interviews are the least effective, she added.

The consequences may be high: A new hire who doesn’t mesh with staff, whose reputation does not meet the organization’s reality, or who leaves the organization quickly, causing lost productivity, staff unrest, plus the cost of recruiting a replacement.

Instead, employers may want either to have two people in the interview—one to pitch the organization and job and one to evaluate the candidate, Marr suggests. They also could  schedule two interviews, one to determine if the person will work and the second to sell her on the job and place. They could push critical thinking as the foundation for interviews, and recruit separately before and afterward.

That sounds smart, though it would mean for hiring managers to slow their decision-making. Half of them said they know within five minutes whether they plan to offer a candidate a job.

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be found here.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.