Occupational differences form the bedrock of our social stratification system, yet standard indicators such as education level, skill credentials or job experience do not fully explain job allocation processes. Hence, many tacit mechanism and cultural criteria are involved in the process of occupational selection. This project aims to further open the black box of hiring by examining the role of cultural signaling, evaluation logics and moral reasoning within hiring processes. This requires a radical turn towards investigating the praxis of social selection by focusing not only on what people say but also on what they do. Job interviews are crucial gatekeeping encounters and by in-depth examination of recruitment processes, we can get new insights in the cultural dimension of hiring.
Evaluating self-presentation: decoding cultural signals by employee gatekeepers
This study investigates how employee gatekeepers decode cultural signals applicants send out during job selection procedures. By focusing on “personality currencies” such as leisure activities and presentation style, this paper examines how recruiters and hiring managers evaluate candidates and justify their choices. This is done by in-depth interviewing of 40 HR managers and recruiters, from the cultural and corporate sector in The Netherlands, using a video-elicitation method. The interviews revealed (1) the importance of a fun-factor, (2) that leisure activities not only serve a status markers or indicators for competence but enter as important interactional tools, (3) that gatekeepers look for authentic self-presentation but that this varies between fields and the perceived gender of the candidate. Finally, this study reveals that a search for the real person behind the candidate creates a gatekeeping practice which is sensitive to variations in entitlement and exclusion based on typecasting.
by Kobe De Keere
Bring them out of their shell: moralizing employee gatekeeping and hiring decisions
Hiring is an act of evaluation that comes with much organisational and social responsibility, making it a morally sensitive situation. Hence, the way employee gatekeepers come to terms with their selections presents itself as an exemplary case to study the moral dimension of organisational life. Relying on a pragmatist perspective, this article uncovers how employers experience moral uncertainty and justify their choices. Through a comparison of gatekeeping in two employment fields, this study covers new ground on how decisions logics and regimes of valuation play out and can be structurally conditioned. Through in-depth interviews, combined with a ranking exercise based on video-elicitation, with recruiters and hiring managers from the corporate (n:23) and cultural (n:17) fields in the Netherlands, this paper explores how evaluation processes and selections are justified. The interviews show that a sense of moral unease is common among gatekeepers, but much more prevalent among corporate rather than cultural gatekeepers. High market pressure, low supply of candidates and weaker ties with government does not translate into moral sterility for corporate gatekeepers. Second, the study reveals that a logic of self-realization enters as a powerful justificatory regime, transforming candidate selection procedures into exercises of confession.
by Kobe De Keere
Hiring for the government: analysis of job interviewing and the effect of diversity training within governmental job recruitment