CBR Briefing #35

Mar 04, 2018

Why job-seekers seem more intelligent when they speak
When employers hear rather than read about a candidate’s job credentials, they perceive the applicant as more employable

Potential employers rated students as more intelligent, likable, and hirable when they heard the students’ credentials rather than read them.
  • Job candidates communicate greater intellect when they share their credentials through speech rather than in writing, according to Chicago Booth’s Nicholas Epley and Booth PhD candidate Juliana Schroeder.
  • Schroeder and Epley devised five experiments involving Booth MBA students and the elevator pitches common in job interviews. The researchers recorded students, or in some cases actors reading for students, making their pitches. Professional job recruiters and hypothetical employers either watched or listened to the pitches or read the transcripts.
  • The potential employers consistently rated students as more intelligent, likable, and hirable when they heard the students’ credentials rather than read them (see chart). When evaluators listened to pitches read aloud by actors, they gave those pitches higher ratings than the same pitches presented in writing. It didn’t appear to matter whether pitches were presented on video or as audio only—both received higher ratings than those presented in writing.
  • Other research by Schroeder and Epley suggests that intonation, or the rise and fall in the sound of one’s voice, can convey enthusiasm, interest, and active thinking. A written pitch may not be as effective in conveying a person’s intellect because readers do not tend to add intonation while reading text.