Cultural fit and ethnic background in the job interview

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Peer-Reviewed Research


Employing an experimental design, we investigated how Norwegian managers’ (N = 78) evaluations and intended hiring decisions varied with job applicants’ ethnic background (immigrant vs. native Norwegian mainstreamer) and the degree to which the candidates’ self-presentation fitted Norwegian cultural norms (level of cultural fit). The participants viewed video clips of applicants whose ethnicity and self-presentation was manipulated. Irrespective of ethnic background, low cultural fit candidates were evaluated as less similar, less likable, less likely to perform well, and as more poorly fitting the managers’ organization. However, low and high cultural fit candidates were evaluated as exhibiting similar levels of person–job fit. Logistic regression analyses showed that low cultural fit candidates were about six times less likely to be hired than high cultural fit candidates. In practice, immigrant applicants are more likely to exhibit low cultural fit. It is concluded that emphasis on cultural fit could easily have a disproportionate effect on immigrants’ chances of being hired, notably if fit is not predictive of job performance.