Multilingual Business Communication

September 18, 2008

It’s professional to be personal

Filed under: employee communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 4:20 pm

Does the applicant’s communicative style in a job interview really matter? According to research carried out by Danish linguist Jann Scheuer it does. And here’s how. Successful applicants produce more words than unsuccessful applicants, and their turns are substantially longer. A job interview is a performance, really: the successful applicant is the one who is able to take the initiative, select topics, tell stories, come up with jokes even; the unsuccessful applicant remains stuck in school discourse (using student idiom, pronouncing names of courses far too quickly), turning the interview into a banal exam, with frequent questions and control firmly in the hands of the recruiters. Scheuer concludes that successful applicants are those who manage to deformalize the interview, to make the event more personal; in the end, he says, it turns out professional to be personal, which is in sharp contrast with the widely held view that workplace discourse involves depersonalization. (Geert Jacobs)

Jann Scheuer (2001). Recontextualization and communicative styles in job interviews. Discourse studies, 3(2), 223-248.

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