Effects of Perceptions of Similarity on Hiring Decisions Essay

“Perception is the process by which individuals organise and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment” (Robbins, Judge, Millet, M - Effects of Perceptions of Similarity on Hiring Decisions Essay introduction. 2011:6). When it comes to hiring in organisations, perception is one of the major influences that affects the evaluator’s decision. It has been suggested that decisions of whether or not to hire a candidate is never made rationally. Instead, evaluators tend to be biased towards candidates who share similarities with the firm and with the evaluators themselves.

This essay will discuss the possible influences that perceptions of similarity have on Ross’ decision to hire Vanessa by focusing on perceived similarity and interpersonal attraction, physical attractiveness and the halo effect, and gender. The first major influence of perceptions of similarity is perceived similarity. In this case, while perceived similarities could be different from reality, Ross may have perceived Vanessa as someone who is similar in characteristics to him and the firm. As stated by Robbins et al.

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(2011:6), a person’s interpretation of a target is highly influenced by his or her personal characteristics. Vanessa’s interview with Ross lasted a longer time and it is indicated to readers that they had an interesting and enjoyable conversation. It could be that they really did have many similarities and could therefore relate to each other in conversation. However, we must take into account the fact that people in organisations often display a certain mood intentionally to deceive. This brings us to the second possible influence, interpersonal attraction.

But before we can discuss that, we must understand the term “interpersonal dynamics” which refers to a person’s ability to get along with others. Gigone and Hastie (1993, cited in Rivera 2012:1001) stated that the first thing people do when meeting for the first time is seek for commonalties, often in terms of demographic views and cultural similarities. In addition, psychological studies have shown that “cultural similarities yield attraction” (Byrne1971; Lazarsfeld and Merton 1954, cited in Rivera 2012:1001).

Therefore, interpersonal dynamics play an important role in developing a sense of trust and comfort between the evaluator and the candidate especially in a one to one interview. Nonetheless, Lamont and Small(2008, cited in Rivera 2012:1002)remind us of the existence of dissimilarities in values, experience and behaviour between demographic groups. So in order to moderate the influence of interpersonal attraction on decision-making, evaluators need to identify similarities in culture and experience (Turco 2010; Wilson 1997, cited in Rivera 2012:1002).

The third major influence is physical attractiveness. Dion et al. (1972, cited in Cotter 2011:1) maintains that positive perceptions that an evaluator has about a candidate are attributable to physical attractiveness. Moreover, application of the halo effect implies that attractive individuals are favoured in terms of personality and are perceived to be more successful in achieving goals. Assuming that an evaluator perceives himself as physically attractive, he or she as an individual

As stated by Mulford et al. (1998, cited in Cotter 2011:2), individuals in organisations are more receptive towards attractive people, increasing their level of cooperation on a day to day basis. Desrumaux et al. (2009, cited in Cotter 2011:3) suggest that “social desirability,” defined as the approachability of an individual and “social utility,” defined as an individual’s capability of success, are the two main influences of hireability.

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