October 8, 2012
Study: Just say 'no' to alcohol at job interview
Good news: You’ve made it to the dinner interview with the company’s boss.
Want to make sure that good news doesn’t become a Dear John letter? Think twice about the wine list.
A new academic study by researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania links a job candidate’s beverage choice to perceived intelligence and hireability.
Scott Rick of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Maurice Schweitzer at Penn’s Wharton School of Business call the perception “imbibing idiot bias.”
The study, “The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Consuming Alcohol Can Be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence,” will soon appear in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
The conclusion: Job candidates who ordered wine during dinner interviews were seen by prospective employers as less bright and not as hireable as those who chose a soft drink with their meal.
But Rick’s research showed that job candidates often thought the opposite.
"Prospective candidates believe that ordering wine rather than soda will help them appear more intelligent," the study reports.
To drink or not to drink is the question, and employment experts weighed in on both sides of the issue. Those in the dry camp say perceptions — right or wrong — matter too much, that the risks are too great to chance a drink.
“We always recommend candidates take the non-alcoholic choice. It’s such a black-and-white issue for us,” says Jess Bushey, market director at Roth Staffing Companies in Sacramento. “Too much can go wrong and too little can go right.”
But others say the issue is not so clear-cut.
Nia Mujadadi, a human-resources manager at Google, says a candidate should feel comfortable following the interviewer’s lead.
“At the end of the day, it depends on the culture of the company,” Mujadadi says.
Terri Carpenter, of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, says job candidates should steer clear of the strong stuff.
“Perception is the most important thing to remember — it has nothing to do with intelligence,” Carpenter says. “You’re there to be professional. You don’t want alcohol to affect your game. I would stay away from it. That’s just good common sense.”
Marcie Kirk-Holland, a project manager at the Internship and Career Center at the University of California, Davis, says candidates can read the room and decide for themselves what’s appropriate.
If the interviewer orders a glass and you feel comfortable joining in, “Order one drink and a glass of water, and don’t drink very much,” she says. “It’s like eating at an interview. You’re not there to drink; you’re there to interview.”
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