Society and Workplace Diversity Research Group

Did you participate in the survey on behavior during interviews?

Here are some preliminary results!

Main content


During 2006 and 2007 more than 3,500 students from Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Turkey, and the U.S.A. took part in our large survey on behavior during job interviews. All of them indicated what it would be important to say and do when being interviewed for a desired job. Our analyses of their responses have focused on:

• Finding common dimensions of interviewee self presentation across cultures
• Understanding how cultural differences in job applicants self presentation during interviews relates to other know dimensions of the society, such as values and affluence


Dimensions of interviewee behavior

Respondents from all of the cultures in the study indicated that emphasizing one's desirable qualities in the interview is one way to make a good impression. This can be done by showing enthusiasm for the job, describing previous training, and letting the interviewer know that you are a good colleague. Another strategy is to be self-effacing by showing a humble attitude, not boasting, and emphasizing that you would work hard to overcome lack of ability. Focusing on what one has learned from mistakes in previous job and how past obstacles have been overcome is a third strategy used by job applicants. This also entails mentioning obstacles that may hinder an optimal performance at work. Finally, presenting oneself in an assertive and confident manner by focusing exclusively on one's strengths is a type of applicant behavior recognized across culture.

Even though these four strategies are recognized among respondents from all the cultures we surveyed, they are not seen as equally important. The Norwegian results for example, indicate that emphasizing positive qualities is important, whereas being self-effacing and focusing on problems is less important. Malaysian respondents rated all of the strategies as important, and in line with a common stereotype the American participants placed more emphasis on individual excellence than people from other Western countries.

Culture and interviewee behavior

A core question in our project is how do applicants' approaches to job interviews relate to other aspects of culture? Among our findings is that pointing out obstacles is more important for job seekers in developing, less affluent countries. We speculate that this may be related to more objective obstacles in working life, such as transportation problems and power shortages. In cultures where egalitarianism is important, applicants focus less on being self-effacing. Contrary, in societies in which power is unequally distributed, showing a humble attitude becomes more important.

These are just a few of our findings, and we are continuously working on exploring cultural factors in the recruitment process. If you are interested in learning about how Norwegian mainstreamers and immigrants to Norway approach the interview situation you can download the report "Rekruttering i flerkulturelle samfunn" (in Norwegian only) from the link below. At our website we will also inform you about future international publications.


Report "Rekruttering i flerkulturelle samfunn"