Job seekers judged on social status by speech mannerism
Candidates at job interviews expect to be evaluated on their experience, conduct, and ideas, but now a new study provides evidence that interviewees are judged based on their social status seconds after they start to speak.
The study found that people can accurately assess a stranger's socioeconomic position – defined by their income, education, and occupation status – based on brief speech patterns. The findings shows that these snap perceptions influence hiring managers in ways that favour job applicants from higher social classes.
"Our study shows that even during the briefest interactions, a person's speech patterns shape the way people perceive them, including assessing their competence and fitness for a job," said study researcher.
The researchers based their findings on five separate studies. The first four examined the extent that people accurately perceive social class based on a few seconds of speech. They found that reciting seven random words is sufficient to allow people to discern the speaker's social class with above-chance accuracy.
They discovered that speech adhering to subjective standards for English as well as digital standards is associated with both actual and perceived higher social class.
The researchers also showed that pronunciation cues in an individual's speech communicate their social status more accurately than the content of their speech.
The fifth study examined how these speech cues influence hiring. Twenty prospective job candidates from varied current and childhood socioeconomic backgrounds were recruited to interview for an entry-level lab manager position at Yayle.