Tensions and Burdens in Employment Interviewing Processes: Perspectives of Non-Dominant Group Applicants

By Buzzanell, Patrice M. | The Journal of Business Communication, April 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Tensions and Burdens in Employment Interviewing Processes: Perspectives of Non-Dominant Group Applicants

Buzzanell, Patrice M., The Journal of Business Communication

Materials available at campus recruitment centers, in employment interviewing books, and over the Internet recommend behaviors, including sample responses to questions and appropriate attire, that can help applicants create desirable images (e.g., Garber, 1997; Riley, 1997). Academic research has supplied profiles of applicants who are successful in screening and second interviews, meaning that they are offered second interviews or jobs (Miller & Buzzanell, 1996). In the United States workplace, the more closely applicants approach these ideal candidate profiles and enact recommended behaviors, the greater their chances of obtaining job offers (see Bate & Bowker, 1997; Heilman, 1983; Heilman, Martell, & Simon, 1988; Van Vianen & Willemsen, 1992).

What is not discussed in employment interviewing research is that these ideal profiles and routine practices rely on characteristics of "dominant" group members. Assumptions about proper interviewing behavior and outcomes exclude experiences of traditionally underrepresented groups and maintain managerial control. To understand why employment interviewing has not discussed issues salient for non-dominant members and what the implications of this neglect are, I first show communication processes aligned with non-dominant group membership. Then, I describe why ideal applicant profiles and standard practices are inappropriate for all applicants, but especially for non-dominant applicants. In both sections, I piece together a picture of what interviewing may be like for non-dominant applicants by reviewing literature on (primarily dominant) applicants' employment interviewing experiences. I argue that members of traditionally underrepresented groups may experience tensions as well as performance burdens when attempting to meet traditional expectations for employment interviews. In the conclusion, I offer recommendations for managerial practice, pedagogy, and research.

Greater awareness and understanding of employment interviewing from the standpoints of non-dominant applicants can affect the ways we work, teach, and investigate employment interviewing. Thus, this discussion fits within current communication emphases on social justice (see Wood, 1996). Social justice is the "engagement with and advocacy for those in our society who are economically, socially, politically, and/or culturally underresourced" (Frey, Pearce, Pollock, Artz, & Murphy, 1996, p. 110). Social justice research asks the following questions:

* Whose interests are served by communication research?

* What "dominant discourses, social structures, patterns of interactions, and the like produce and reproduce injustice?"

* How can researchers engage and transform social structures?

* What happens when researchers insist "that a community of integrity cannot exist if some are excluded?" (p. 111)

In short, my article attempts to listen to the voices of those who often are silenced (by exclusion of their concerns) in employment interviewing.

Communication Processes Aligned with Non-Dominant Group Membership

Communication between non-dominant and dominant group members has not been examined fully. Hecht, Collier, and Ribeau (1993) state that "there is little research about the diversity within and between ethnic cultures and what makes interethnic contact effective or ineffective. . . . Even less is known about how members of nonmainstream or disempowered ethnic groups perceive these interactions" (p. 2). Although this comment refers to interethnic exchanges, the same conclusion can be drawn about other types of co-cultural interactions, i.e., communication between nondominant and dominant group members. Incorporation of "others" standpoints calls into question the normal power imbalances in society and taken-for-granted assumptions about the ways things happen. In addition, analysis of communicative processes in co-cultural exchanges from the viewpoint of non-dominant members portrays interactions fraught with tensions, self-consciousness, and identity negotiations different from the impression management tactics and job-oriented outcomes detailed in interviewing research.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Tensions and Burdens in Employment Interviewing Processes: Perspectives of Non-Dominant Group Applicants


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?