How a Q&A could be career-defining
The time it takes for a candidate to respond to questions during a job interview could determine their future career path, according to new research by James Cook University involving more than 5100 participants from the UK, US, Singapore, and Australia (published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001254)
In a series of experiments, JCU Singapore social psychologist Dr Deming (Adam) Wang and his team found that prompt responses during a range of conversational scenarios, including everyday small talk and mock job interviews, were seen as relaxed and proactive, while responses after a slight pause were considered to signal nervousness and social passivity.
As a result, individuals providing a prompt response were judged to be more extroverted than those who provided the response after a slight delay.
“Specifically, a slight difference in response timing, such as responding after four versus two seconds, could be enough for job interviewers to form different impressions of applicants’ extroversion levels, even when the question was not straight forward and rightfully required some thought,” Dr Wang said.
“As a consequence, the interviewers judged them to be suitable for different types of jobs.
“The study showed that people were seen as more suitable to take on social jobs, such as a salesperson, if they responded to questions swiftly in job interviews.
“By contrast, candidates who responded after a short pause were actually preferred over swift responders when the goal was to fill a solitary job vacancy, such as an administrative position.”
Dr Wang said extroversion and introversion both come with desirable and undesirable associated traits.
For instance, extroverted people are considered to be more friendly, charismatic, but more impulsive and less loyal, whereas introverted people are known to be more thoughtful, cautious, but less forthcoming and witty.
Dr Wang believes that since response timing can be controlled volitionally, the findings also suggest that individuals may take advantage of response timing to appear more introverted or extroverted, depending on what their goal is.
“These findings highlight the important role of response timing as a non-verbal cue that influences the impression of someone’s personality,” he said.
“However, it is worth noting that interviewers should be mindful that not all non-verbal cues are equally reliable in extroversion judgements, since response timing is a relatively controllable exception.”
The research was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.