How Job Candidates Show Their Emotions May Result in Hiring Disparities
By Steve Bent
What emotions job candidates choose to display during interviews often varies by culture, and may be the source of hiring bias, Stanford researchers found. This is one of several findings psychology Professor Jeanne Tsai and former graduate student Lucy Zhang Bencharit reveal in a paper in Emotion that examines how the cultural differences of how emotions are displayed could bias hiring decisions. “Given how diverse our workforce is and how global our markets are, it’s important to understand how culture might influence emotional preferences in employment settings,” said Tsai, who directs the Culture and Emotion Lab in the Psychology Department at Stanford’s School for Humanities and Sciences. The paper’s co-authors also include scholars from the City University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Northwestern University and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Putting your best face forward
People’s behavior can be influenced by the emotional states they value and want to feel – what Tsai calls their ideal affect. It’s how a person wants others to see them, even if they might not feel that way, like trying to appear at ease at a job interview (when the person really is a ball of nerves). But as Tsai has found in prior research studies, the emotions people value, and in turn display, vary across culture. How might these cultural differences influence candidates and their hiring managers on job interviews? To find out, the researchers conducted five studies that included a total of 1,041 participants in five different workplace scenarios. In four of the studies, the scholars compared European Americans and Asian Americans living in the United States with Chinese living in Hong Kong.
In one experiment, participants were asked to imagine they wanted a competitive internship. They were then asked to fill out an application
including a video introducing themselves. At the end of their application, they were asked which emotions they wanted to convey. The researchers found that what is interpreted as the “best impression” varies from person to person and from culture to culture. European Americans were more likely to convey excitement and enthusiasm than Hong Kong Chinese, who desired calm and even-tempered states.
In their first study with 236 participants, 86 percent of European Americans and 72 percent of Asian Americans wanted to convey excitement rather than calm. In comparison, only 48 percent of Hong Kong Chinese wanted to show excitement, said Bencharit. These values were also reflected in their applications. For example, European Americans were more likely than Hong Kong Chinese to show their excitement with phrases like “I’m really enthusiastic about this position” and “I am passionate about the work.”
“How we want to feel and what our culture tells us is the right way to be influences how we present ourselves when we are applying for a job,” said Tsai about their findings. So how do potential employers respond to candidate emotions?
In another experiment, Tsai and Bencharit told participants to imagine they were hiring an intern. They then had to rate qualities the perfect candidate should have. The researchers found that European Americans wanted applicants to show excitement, but Hong Kong Chinese preferred calm. Asian Americans fell in between the two groups.
In another study, the researchers presented employees at a U.S. company with a similar scenario. They were shown video applications from three candidates who all had the same level of qualifications. But one candidate was animated and excited, another calm and a third neutral. Of the 300 participants, 47 percent favored the excited applicant, whereas only 23.7 percent liked the calm candidate. 29.3 percent chose the neutral one. “In the U.S., career counselors and job advisers often tell applicants to be excited and enthusiastic when applying for jobs,” Bencharit said. “It is important to recognize that this message is shaped by our culture, and it may not be right or feel natural for everyone.”
The problem with “cultural fit”
Could cultural preferences of emotion lead to hiring biases? The researchers think so. “People think that their gut feelings say something about the other person’s character, but our data suggest that people’s gut feelings also say something about the culture that they themselves come from,” said Tsai. Tsai and Bencharit have concerns about the increasing trend of hiring employees who share the values of the company’s existing workforce. That is, selecting employees based on their “cultural fit.”
“One problem with hiring for cultural fit is that employers assume that is the only way to thrive at their organization,” Bencharit said. “However, in work settings, there are many tasks in which a calm and level-headed employee may out-perform an excited and passionate one.” The desire for cultural fit could also lead to less diverse workplaces, warn the scholars. “Hiring for cultural fit unfairly disadvantages some groups over others. Those who have less experience with American workplaces, like recent immigrants, may be most disadvantaged in the interview and hiring process,” Bencharit said.
Tsai believes their research might also provide a possible explanation of the “bamboo ceiling,” a phenomenon that describes how in American corporate culture, Asian Americans often stall in middle management and rarely make it to top leadership positions. “We’ve been interested in why this bamboo ceiling exists, and we think it might be because many Asian Americans value calm states and associate good leadership with those qualities,” she said. “But mainstream American culture associates good leadership with being excited and enthusiastic.”
“If we really want to benefit from diverse workplaces, then we have to broaden our views of what emotional qualities we look for in the ideal applicant,” said Tsai.
1 in 6 Seniors Are Working Well Past the Age of 65, New Study Finds
More seniors are remaining employed well after hitting retirement age of 65, a new study has found. For Americans over 75, the labor force participation rate has nearly doubled over the last 20 years. The analysis also found that occupations requiring very specific trade skills, such as embalmers and leather repairmen, employ the largest percentage of seniors, and that among the 100 largest cities in the country, some cities had a disproportionately large population of seniors in the workforce.
More Seniors Prefer to Delay Retirement:
The labor force participation rate for the 65-74 age group alone has increased by nine percentage points, from 18% to 27%, in the past 20 years. For the 75+ group, the labor force participation rate nearly doubled over the same time period.
Some Industries Heavily Rely on Seniors: Trade professions like embalmers, funeral attendants, repairmen, religious organizations and animal production rely heavily on working seniors — as much as 47% of their workforce is aged 65 or older, raising the question of the survival of these industries once these seniors retire.
The Gender Gap in Retirement: Men are much more likely than women to work into traditional retirement years. In 2018, nearly 32% of men between the ages of 65 and 74 were in the labor force. Yet only 23% of women of the same age were employed.
Cities With the Largest Population of Working Seniors: Among the 100 largest cities, Washington D.C.; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; Omaha, Nebraska; and Austin, Texas ranked as the top five cities with the largest proportion of working seniors – nearly a quarter of all residents age 65+ here are still in the workforce.
Cities Where Seniors are Least Likely to Work Past the Age of Retirement: It should come as little surprise that traditionally well-known retirement communities have low populations of senior workers. Places like Augusta, Georgia; Palm Bay, Florida; and Deltona, Florida ranked lowest, with just 1 in 10 residents 65+ employed.
Why Seniors Are Delaying Retirement: With the increase in cost of living, seniors may be forced to work for longer in order to save enough for a comfortable retirement. Seniors also will spend as much as three times more than a 21-year-old for health insurance alone, which does not take into account medical bills or the costs associated with utilizing such care. But most importantly, seniors may be opting to work just to keep their minds sharp and increase their physical and mental mobility.
5 Steps to Make Your Onboarding Process Effective
By Dan Rose
My biggest pet peeve in today’s business world is that far too many companies pay lip service to the importance of their onboarding process for new employees. They say its important, but their actions say otherwise. There has been enough research done on the benefits of effective onboarding to choke an elephant, but if you ask most of your friends and colleagues about the onboarding done at their current employer, they’ll either laugh sarcastically or simmer in anger silently.
Providing a seamless transition for new employees entering the workforce is key for your successful onboarding training program. It’s important to be attentive and invest time and energy into training workers appropriately. More now than ever before, new hires rely on how leaders prepare and guide them into new roles and responsibilities.
Effective onboarding makes new employees feel welcome and valued by your company
Starting at a new company – or even just a new position – can be a challenging experience for some, but it doesn’t mean they are any less qualified for their jobs. If managers offer proper training, such as business communication seminars and company policy orientations, employees can get a better understanding of their new responsibilities and know how to perform their roles well. Using quality training can mean a lot to the new hires and ensure a successful future for the company. There are always quite a few policies and procedures to cover when someone first starts and communicating those effectively allows for more productivity and faster growth. While workers may have a slight idea of this when they start at an organization, it’s best to have a more in-depth briefing on how the internal culture of the business works and how they are an essential part of that environment.
Here are five additional and equally significant tips for successful onboarding:
1. Acknowledge your employee’s learning styles
People have different learning styles, meaning leaders should recognize how to approach training sessions that benefit each new member on his or her own level. Trying to do a “one size fits all” training method won’t be effective and leads to frustration.
2. Communicate your organization’s core values and goals
Technically, you should do this during the interviewing and hiring process because it will help ensure you’re all going to be a good fit for each other. It also gives new hires perspective about how the business started, the principles it was built on and how it hopes to succeed in the future. This is often the first step in creating an engaging work environment where employees begin taking ownership in the success of the company as well as themselves.
3. Encourage personal initiatives
Offer guidelines for how to perform a specific function at the company. But, always remember to let employees take their own paths and even customize their roles. Eliminate the fear of failure so workers can successfully and fearlessly move forward.
4. Involve other employees in the process
Allow a variety of staff to take part in the training process. This is so new members can get a better idea of the culture and personality types in the office. Now might be the time to encourage a more hands-on training system that promotes communication between workers and departments.
5. Keep the process and the training ongoing
What is the area where most onboarding fails? It actually “ends”, and it ends much, much too quickly. Honestly, onboarding should go on for years. Initial orientations may end within the first few weeks. However, companies should always follow up with recent hires monthly for the first year. In addition, offer skills training to all members of the workforce.
Today’s up and coming workers – Millennials and Gen Z – overwhelmingly say that the way they are onboarded determines how long they plan to stay at a company. Considering they will comprise nearly 80% of the workforce within the next few years, it might be time to look at your onboarding process and improve it if necessary.