How does the job applicants' ethnicity affect the selection process? Norms, Preferred competencies and expected fit

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


The present thesis aimed to study different factors influencing recruiters when recruiting from an applicant pool with applicants from an ethnic ingroup and outgroup. Ethnicity was predicted to influence recruiters’ perception and behaviour in different phases during recruitment. Study I demonstrated that company norms affect recruiters’ perception of what an employee should be like. Company norms, either emphasizing cohesion (employees should “fit in”) or fairness (everybody should be treated equally), were presented to participants. We found an increased focus on Person–Group fit (such as social competence) when norms related to workforce cohesion (company requirement to fit in) were introduced and an increased focus on for Person–Job fit (such as job specific skills and abilities), when fairness norms related to equal opportunity were introduced. The norm effect was moderated by participants’ awareness of the applicants’ ethnicity. When expecting applicants with foreign background, participants in the cohesion condition showed an increased preference for selection methods related to social competence.
Study II revealed that outgroup applicants (of Arabic origin) prompt recruiters to focus more on whether they have integrated cultural norms and values fitting the ingroup-norms (Person-Culture fit), as well as the match between the pplicants and their would-be work team (Person-Group fit). When applicants were from the ethnic ingroup, recruiters focused more on questions pertaining to the match between the applicants’ abilities and the specific demands of the job (Person-Job fit). In addition, the study revealed that questions prepared for outgroup applicants were rated as less useful for hireability decisions, and that interview summaries emphasizing PersonJob fit were perceived as more useful.
Study III investigated whether increased structure during selection improves the outcome. Participants where either provided with tools for systemizing information about the job and the applicants (structured selection), or no such tools (unstructured selection). We hypothesized and found that a structured process improves the ability to identify job-relevant criteria and leads to the selection of more qualified applicants, even when in-group favouritism is tempting (e.g. when the outgroup applicants are more competent). Increasing structure helped recruiters select more competent applicants. Furthermore, increasing the motivation to carefully follow the structured procedure strengthened these effects. We conclude that structure pays off, and that motivational factors should be taken into account in order for it to have the optimal effect.
In all, the findings provide support for the hypotheses that different P-E fit aspects are focused on when recruiters are exposed to outgroup applicants and that structured recruitment leads to an improved ability to identify and select the most competent applicants.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology


  • Discrimination, Ethnicity, Arab, systematic recruitment, Organizational norms, Person Environment fit, organizational psychology, intergroup relations, in-group and out-group, in-group favoritism, stereotypes, Social psychology
Translated title of the contributionHur påverkar den sökandes etnicitet rekryteringsprocessen?: Normer, Föredragna kompetenser och förväntad anpassning
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2017 Oct 13
Place of PublicationLund
Print ISBNs978-91-7753-424-2
Electronic ISBNs978-91-7753-424-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2017-10-13 Time: 13:15 Place: Eden auditorium, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Derous, Eva Title: Professor Affiliation: Ghent University ---

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