Episode 12: Applying for a job (3): The job interview

In the introduction, Bernard mentions the finding that employers give lower ratings to candidates who interview on video. This is reported in 

Blacksmith, N., Willford, J. C., & Behrend, T. S. (2016). Technology in the employment interview: A meta-analysis and future research agenda. Personnel Assessment and Decisions, 2(1), Article 2. Available at: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/pad/vol2/iss1/2 

The first part of the episode also features a short interview with Dorottya Cserző, whose recently completed PhD thesis was on video chats. Her relevant publications are: 

Cserzo, D. (2016). Nexus analysis meets scales: An exploration of sites of engagement in videochat interviews. In Singh, J. N., Kantara, A., & Cserző, D. (eds) Downscaling Culture: Revisiting intercultural communication. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 337-365.

Cserzo, D. (2020). Intimacy at a distance: Multimodal meaning making in video chat tours. In Thurlow, C., Durscheid, C., & Diemoz, F. (eds) Visualizing Digital Discourse: Interactional, institutional and ideological perspectives. Berlin: Mouton DeGruyter, pp. 151-169.

As Bernard mentions during the interview, the surge in video interactions due to the Covid-19 pandemic has brought much well-meaning advice on Zoom backgrounds and the like (e.g. https://twitter.com/bcredibility), which in turn have spawned critical reflections:  https://academicirregularities.wordpress.comhttp://musicfordeckchairs.com/blog/2020/05/09/background/

In reply, Dorottya cites research on sound vs image problems in video chats: 

Rintel, S. (2010). Conversational management of network trouble perturbations in personal videoconferencing. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, 304–311. https://doi.org/10.1145/1952222.1952288

Rintel, S. (2013). Video Calling in Long-Distance Relationships : The Opportunistic Use of Audio / Video Distortions as a Relational Resource. The Electronic Journal of Communication, 23(1 & 2).

Still in the first part, we introduce the cooperative principle and conversational maxims (see glossary). The series Big Bang Theory includes lots of examples where the main character breaks one or several of those maxims, e.g. in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEM8gZCWQ2w Can you identify which maxim(s) he breaks? 

The second part of the episode features an interview with linguist Cellia Roberts. (There is also a sociologist of the same name, and a colleague of one of the hosts once declared that he would like to supervise a PhD student who could be examined by both Celias.) As an emerita professor, she can look back on a number of projects and publications; the ones most relevant to the topic of job interviews are (in chronological order):

Roberts, C. (1985). The Interview Game and How It’s Played. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. 

Roberts, C., & Sarangi, S. (1999). Hybridity in gatekeeping discourse: Issues of practical relevance for the researcher. In Sarangi, S., & Roberts, C. (eds) Talk, Work and Institutional order. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 473-503.

Roberts, C., & Campbell, S. (2005). Fitting stories into boxes: Rhetorical and textual constraints on candidates’ performances in British job interviews. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 45-73. 

Campbell, S., & Roberts, C. (2007). Migration, ethnicity and competing discourses in the job interview: Synthesizing the institutional and personal. Discourse & Society, 18(3), 243-271.

Roberts, C. (2011). ‘Taking ownership’: Language and ethnicity in the job interview. In Pelsmaekers, K., Rollo, C., Von Hout, T., & Heynderickx, P. (eds) Displaying Competence in Organizations: Discourse perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 10-26. 

Roberts, C. (2013). The gatekeeping of Babel: Job interviews and the linguistic penalty. In Duchêne, A., Moyer, M., & Roberts, C. (eds) Language, Migration and Social Inequalities: A critical sociolinguistic perspective on institutions and work. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 81-94. [A summary by Ingrid Piller can be found here: https://www.languageonthemove.com/linguistic-penalty-in-the-job-interview/]

In the interview, Celia refers to the notion of the ‘entrepreneurial self’, which was advanced both by Paul Du Gay and, in German, by Ulrich Bröckling:

Bröckling, U. (2013). Das unternehmerische Selbst: Soziologie einer Subjektivierungsform. [The entrepreneurial self: Sociology of a form of subjectivation] Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.

Du Gay, P. (1996). Organizing identity: Entrepreneurial governance and public management. In Hall, S., & Du Gay, P. (eds) Questions of Cultural Identity. London: SAGE, pp. 151-169

She also mentions the STAR structure for job interviews. This is indeed widely used and advice on it abounds online (e.g. at https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/how-to-use-the-star-interview-response-technique). 

Celia uses a number of metaphors to talk about the interview process and the positions of interviewer and interviewee. One is that of the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces looking in different directions. 

Unfortunately, the FAQ video that she mentions is not publicly available. 

The episode of “The Job Interview” that we analyse in the third part of the episode was broadcast on  Channel 4 on 19 March 2018. Listeners outside the UK can view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esLbDihhtfY (starts at 31:25). If you live in the UK, you can register with Channel 4 for on-demand programmes and watch the second half of series 2 episode 5 at https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-job-interview/on-demand/66105-005. Alternatively, if you work in education, your school, college or university may have access to Best of Broadcasts at https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand

We hope you enjoyed the mini-series and indeed the whole of our first season. See you again for the start of our new season in October! 

Listen to the episode here

Full transcription of the episode

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