Job Interviewers Make Snap Judgements On Class Within The First 7 Words You Speak

Hiring managers then use these assumptions to assess a person’s ability to do the job, the study found.
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It would be nice to think experience, qualifications, talent and hard work will help you bag a new job. But a new study suggests hiring choices still come down to social class.

Researchers from Yale University found that interviewers not only make assumptions about the social class of candidates, but they then use those assumptions to assess a person’s ability to do the job.

Worse still, interviewers are dismissing candidates from working class backgrounds within the first few seconds of a meeting – when they’ve spoken just seven words.

“Our study shows that even during the briefest interactions, a person’s speech patterns shape the way people perceive them, including assessing their competence and fitness for a job,” said Michael Kraus, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the Yale School of Management.

“While most hiring managers would deny that a job candidate’s social class matters, in reality, the socioeconomic position of an applicant or their parents is being assessed within the first seconds they speak — a circumstance that limits economic mobility and perpetuates inequality.”

The researchers based their findings on five separate studies. The first four examined the extent that people accurately perceive social class based on a few seconds of speech.

They found that reciting seven random words is sufficient to allow people to discern the speaker’s social class with “above-chance” accuracy. The fifth study looked at how perceived class impacts hiring.

Almost 300 people with hiring experience listened to audio recordings and read pre-interview transcripts for potential employees for an entry-level lab worker position at the university. The hiring managers were not given the candidate’s CVs or any information about their actual qualifications.

The hiring managers judged the candidates from higher social classes as more likely to be competent for the job and a better fit for it than the applicants from lower social classes. They also assigned the applicants from higher social classes more lucrative salaries and signing bonuses than the candidates with lower social status.

“If we want to move to a more equitable society, then we must contend with these ingrained psychological processes that drive our early impressions of others,” Kraus said.

“Despite what these hiring tendencies may suggest, talent is not found solely among those born to rich or well-educated families. Policies that actively recruit candidates from all levels of status in society are best positioned to match opportunities to the people best suited for them.”