Negotiation research you can use: When being yourself gets you the job

By — on / Business Negotiations

“Just be yourself”: It’s probably the most common advice given to job interviewees. But research suggests most people don’t follow the old cliché: in a study by Julia Levashina and Michael A. Campion, at least 65% of job candidates actively misrepresented themselves, and at least 87% concealed aspects of themselves to create what they felt would be a more favorable impression.

In new research, Celia Moore of Bocconi University in Italy and her colleagues are the first to examine whether behaving authentically helps or hurts us in job interviews. Psychologists use the term “self-verification” to refer to the drive to present oneself accurately so that others understand us as we understand ourselves.

In their first experiment, Moore and her colleagues reanalyzed data from a past study of international teachers applying for jobs with U.S. school districts. Before being interviewed, 1,240 candidates were measured on the degree to which they strive to self- verify. Candidates who were already considered strong (those ranked in the 90th percentile) were 11% more likely to receive a placement if they were high self-verifiers. However, candidates judged to be weak (in the 10th percentile) were 6% less likely to get a placement when they were high self-verifiers.

Moore and colleagues found similar results using a sample of 333 applicants to Legal Corps, an organization that provides independent counsel and legal services to the U.S. military. This time, strong candidates who were self-verifiers nearly tripled their odds of receiving an offer—from 5% to 13%. But the tendency to self- verify didn’t help weak candidates.

When recruiters are deciding among top contenders, the results of this research suggest, they prefer those who are honest and open about themselves—even about their shortcomings. Thus, “Be yourself” appears to be good advice for top contenders.

What if you think you’re a long shot for a job? These results might appear to imply you should keep your weaknesses under wraps. But if you do so and are hired, there’s a good chance you’ll be unhappy in the position and leave rather quickly, other research suggests. So you might want to go ahead and be yourself anyway.

Although this may not be your main concern, the research on self-verification shows that when candidates show their true selves, they improve the overall efficiency of the labor market by helping to ensure that people are matched with the right organizations.

Resource: “The Advantage of Being Oneself: The Role of Applicant Self-Verification in Organizational Hiring Decisions,” by Celia Moore, Sun Young Lee, Kawon Kim, and Daniel M. Cable. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2017.

French impressions

The French are well known for their sartorial style, but what about their negotiating style? Recently, researcher Sebastien M. Fosse of the University of Deusto in Spain and his colleagues analyzed 89 interviews and written impressions from French and Latin American students about their experiences negotiating with the French and collected the following general impressions:

  • „An emphasis on hierarchy, rules, and formality. As compared to the more informal style of Latin Americans, French negotiators focus on drafting formal contracts that leave no stone unturned, negotiators from both cultures recounted. In addition, participants observed that the top leaders of French businesses are more likely to engage directly in negotiations rather than delegating to lawyers or lower-level managers.
  • „Pride in France’s historical legacy of Enlightenment values. The sense of pride in French culture and history that negotiators observed in French negotiators played out as politesse—a keen respect for manners and traditions. But some participants (including French ones) viewed French pride as excessive.
  • „Comfort with conflict. Perhaps due to the tumultuous nature of French history, including revolution and strikes, French negotiators tend to be particularly comfortable with conflict and resistance, some of the Latin American respondents believed. One respondent, for example, felt that the French tend to view conflict “like battles, instead of looking for mutual benefits.”

Of course, cultural observations should always be taken with a grain of salt, as they are filtered through the stereotypes, personality, experiences, and culture of the observer, not to mention the dynamics of the relationship. But these general impressions, coupled with the understanding that individuals are much more than their culture, may be an added tool to pack for negotiations in France.

Resource: “When Dignity and Honor Cultures Negotiate: Finding Common Ground,” by Sebastien M. Fosse, Enrique Ogliastri, and María Isabel Rendon. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 2017.

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