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Storytelling in the selection interview: Antecedents, process and outcomes

English title Storytelling in the selection interview: Antecedents, process and outcomes
Applicant Bangerter Adrian
Number 152920
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution IPTO - Institut de Psychologie du Travail et des Organisations Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.12.2014 - 30.11.2017
Approved amount 196'528.00
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Keywords (5)

storytelling; conversation; selection interview; personnel selection; social interaction

Lay Summary (French)

L’entretien d’embauche comportemental permet de prédire la performance future des candidats à un poste, en leur demandant de raconter des situations de travail qu’ils ont géré dans le passé, et en analysant les réponses qu’ils donnent. A l’heure actuelle, on connaît mal comment les candidats se comportent dans de telles situations.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs

Dans un entretien comportemental, on pose des questions aux candidats sur leur comportement dans des situations de travail passées (« Parlez-moi d’une situation où vous avez dû interagir avec un client mécontent »). De telles questions exigent que le candidat produise un récit, où il racontera une situation, les actions entreprises, et leurs effets. Produire un récit de bonne qualité devient donc une compétence que les candidats doivent maîtriser.

Le but du projet est d’étudier les antécédents, les processus, et les effets de la production de récits dans des entretiens d’embauche. Pour les antécédents, on veut étudier si les candidats plus expérimentés et plus avertis sont plus aptes à produire des récits, ainsi que si la personnalité ou les capacités du candidat influencent la capacité à produire des récits. On veut également étudier le processus de production du récit, autrement dit ce que les candidats disent et comment les recruteurs participent au récit (p.ex. en l’encourageant). Enfin, on veut étudier les effets du récit sur l’évaluation du candidat. Ces questions sont abordées dans des études de terrain et des situations expérimentales.

Contexte scientifique et social

Le projet contribue à l’avancement des connaissances scientifiques sur le recrutement. Les résultats permettront d’aider les recruteurs à mieux mener des entretiens d’embauche et d’aider les candidats à mieux mettre en avant leurs compétences.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.04.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
OB Brown Bag Individual talk Storytelling in the selection interview: Antecedents, processes and outcomes 09.11.2017 Lausanne, Switzerland Bangerter Adrian;
Fifteenth Conference of the Swiss Psychological Society Talk given at a conference Encouraging narrative responses to behavioral interview questions 04.09.2017 Lausanne, Switzerland Bangerter Adrian;
European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) 2017 Talk given at a conference Encouraging storytelling in behavioral interviews 17.05.2017 Dublin, Ireland Györkös Christina; Padoan Charlène; Bangerter Adrian;
European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) 2017 Talk given at a conference Effects of Follow-up Questioning and Preparation on the Production of Narrative Responses to Job Interview Questions 17.05.2017 Dublin, Ireland Bangerter Adrian;
Lunchtime Seminar, Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg Individual talk Storytelling in the selection interview: A challenge for candidates and recruiters 11.05.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland Bangerter Adrian;
26th Annual Meeting of the Society for Text & Discourse Talk given at a conference Effects of follow-up questioning and preparation on the production of narrative responses to job interview questions 18.07.2016 Kassel, Germany Bangerter Adrian;

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Human Resources Network 2017 Nagra Kudelski Talk 04.04.2017 St-Légier, Switzerland Bangerter Adrian;

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions La Nuit des Carrières Western Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
136291 Interactional competences in institutional practices: young people between school and the workplace (IC-You) 01.01.2012 Sinergia
183065 Automatic analysis of verbal and non-verbal behavior and provision of feedback in video selection interviews 01.12.2018 Digital Lives


Personnel selection research has advanced understanding of the psychometric properties of selection methods. Recently, efforts have focused on the practical use of methods, for example how applicants respond to the selection situation. However, properties in use are not equally well understood for all selection methods. The structured selection interview is one such case. Little is known about applicants’ actual responses to structured interview questions. This lack of knowledge contrasts with the spread of structured interviewing in practice. An important innovation of structured interviewing is question type. Structured interviews feature past behavior questions, where applicants are asked to narrate a critical job-relevant situation they experienced in the past. Past behavior questions amount to asking applicants to tell stories about what they did that work situation. However, there is little scientific evidence that applicants are able to effectively tell stories on demand.To correct this state of affairs and advance understanding of the selection interview's practical properties, we propose to study the antecedents, processes and outcomes of storytelling behavior in the selection interview. Antecedents of storytelling include personality, biographical, cognitive or situational variables that affect the likelihood that applicants will construe interview questions as an invitation to tell a story. Storytelling processes include the responsiveness of the narrator (applicant), the participation of the interviewer, and the end product, i.e., the resulting narrative. Storytelling outcomes that will be assessed include the evaluation of the narrative and, via the narrative, the degree to which the applicant is perceived to possess job-relevant competencies, measured by ratings of external observers. The project involves three studies. Study 1 is a field study of storytelling in real job interviews. Study 2 is an experiment where experienced and inexperienced applicants participate in a mock job interview, either with or without preparation for behavioral questions. Study 3 is a similar experiment where applicant experience will be manipulated, along with prompting on the part of the interviewer. In all studies, social interaction will be video- or audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed in detail.The planned research will deliver detailed quantitative and qualitative findings on the antecedents, process and outcomes of storytelling in selection interviews. Beyond the anticipated findings, a database of transcripts of applicant responses will be created. The project will allow the doctoral student to complete her PhD. The data will yield several conference presentations and empirical publications for submission to peer-reviewed journals. The study will deliver insights that can be translated into practice via guidelines for recruiters about how to conduct behavioural interviews or guidelines for training applicants in how to answer behavioral questions.