Playing Hard-to-Get : The Effects of Applicant Availability on Interviewers' Impressions
The effects of being hard-versus easy-to-get on evaluations of job candidates was, tested in three mock interview studies. In study 1, undergraduate students (N=105) read a transcript of a job interview. The transcript contained identical biographical information about the candidate in all conditions, the difference occurred in the manipulation of the applicant's availability. Specifically, the applicant revealed that she did (hard-to-get) or did not (easy-to-get) have another job offer and disclosed this information either of her own initiative (applicant initiated) in response to the interviewer's questions (interviewer initiated). In the control condition, no alternative job information about the candidate was revealed. The dependent measures, desirability and hireability were measured on a postexperimental questionnaire. The results suggested that hard-to-get candidates were more likely to be hired than easy-to-get applicants, however, the selection decisions were not influenced by whether the applicant or interviewer brought up availability. In study 2, undergraduate participants (N=80) viewed a videotape of a job interview and were asked to play the role of a personnel director. Applicant availability was manipulated by the applicant either revealing that she was able to relocate and had many job offers (hard-to-get) or unable to relocate with limited opportunities (easy-to-get). This information was revealed either early (more impact) or late (less impact) in the interview, The three major dependent measures, desirability, hireability, and salary offered were measured on a postexperimental questionnaire. The results &id not suppart the hypothesis that hard-to-get applicants would receive more job offers, be more desirable, or be offered a larger salary than easy-to-get applicants. Furthermore, early information was not more influential than information presented later. In study 3, undergraduate participants (N=84) reviewed a job applicant's file, which included a cover letter and a resume, and then viewed a videotaped interview. Applicant availabilty was manipulated in the cover letter, the applicant revealed that she either had (hard-to-get) or did not (easy-to-get) have other job offers which she either based on her qualifications (dispositional rationale) or her geographical mobility (situational rationale). Two alternative theoretical explanations for the hard-to-get effect were tested: a social comparison and a drive reduction explanation. If the effect is base d upon a social comparison explanation, than those applicants who demonstrate dispositional reasons for being hard-to-get should benefit by disclosing this information. However, those proividing a situational rationale should not. Conversely, if the effixt is based on drive reduction, than the type of rationale should not influence participants' ratings of these candidates. That is, hard-to-get candidates should be rated higher across all conditions. The dependent measures desirability and hireability were measured on a post-experimental questionnaire. The results provided support for a social comparison explanation underlying the hard-to-get effect and the rationale to support it.
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