Research eyes success of the sexes in job interviews

Even though women tend to get more stressed out over the prospect of a job interview, Western research has found they are able to mange much better than men thanks to a variety of proactive coping mechanisms.

While women tend to get stressed out more than the opposite sex when it comes to the notion of a job interview, new Western research shows women outshine their male counterparts with their coping skills when all is said and done.

Justin Feeney, a Psychology doctoral candidate, said many individuals suffer from interview anxiety, but the critical question is the extent to which this anxiety impacts the performance of men and women. Women experience more anxiety, so it would stand to reason their performance would be flawed more than men. Not exactly, Feeney said.

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FEENEY

“What we found here was that although they (women) experience more anxiety, we found it affected men worse,” Feeney said. “So men who were anxious before performed really poorly, but the women develop other coping mechanisms to deal with it.”

Women participate in more practical coping methods in anticipation of the job interview. Through a series of more than 400 mock interviews, Feeney assessed the coping mechanism of both sexes to determine how women overcame their anxieties much more easily than men.

“Women were more likely to do proactive coping things such as discussing their thoughts and feelings with other people, and engaging in self-improvement activities such as practicing mock interviews, reading books, seeking professional help, and perhaps even seeking social support by talking to people like friends and colleagues,” Feeney said.

“Whereas men were significantly lower on those types of ideas, they were more likely to avoid the problem, such as making light of the interview, pretend the interview wasn’t happening and refusing to think about it.”

Even though the anxiety may not be completely gone when entering the interview, Feeney said it’s evident the proactive approach improves confidence and the ability to deal with anxious moments when they arise.

While the obvious benefactors of such research would be the interviewees, he added it could also assist businesses in understanding the interview is not the be-all-to-end-all as far as weighing candidates.

“It depends on the job,” Feeney said. “In a lot of instances, the interview is not necessarily reflective of what you’ll be doing in the job.”

Feeney, whose research has received interest as far away India, will attend the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology Conference in San Diego at the end of April. His work was selected as the conference’s featured submission and top student contribution.

Feeney conducted his research with Psychology professor Richard Goffin and Rotman School of Business professor, and Western graduate, Julie McCarthy.