The Uniqueness Effect
The Uniqueness Effect DefinedIn selection situations, job applicants know that they are not only being judged by absolute qualities (ex. Educational background), but also by their relative qualities, such as their perceived quality in comparison to other applicants. This awareness causes many applicants to create a uniqueness effect. In this context, the uniqueness effect is the effect of an applicant’s distinctive characteristics or answers on recruiters’ evaluations and decisions in the selection process. Similarly to the previous rules of thumb that have told applicants to focus on differentiating their resumes from the many other resumes in the stack, in order to get the interview, that same notion is essentially used as a strategy during the interview.
The Value of Standing OutApplicants who provide unique answers get better evaluations and are chosen more often than applicants providing common answers. When an applicant’s uniqueness is positive, such that it creates a particular social image, they are likely to receive prestige, aid, and love from others. Providing unique responses was especially helpful in non-creative fields, like accounting, as opposed to creative fields, like marketing. One explanation for this could be that interviewers may have higher expectations for receiving unique answers from applicants who are seeking positions in creative fields than for those applicants who are seeking positions in non-creative fields.
Practical ImplicationsThe benefits of providing unique answers to interview questions are clear. Job applicants who give unique answers receive both higher evaluations and a higher probability of getting the job offer, especially in non-creative jobs. One important thing to note is that interviewers may be influenced by the uniqueness of the answers, regardless of the applicant’s true abilities. Therefore, it is important for job recruiters to assess whether or not they are prone to being swayed by the uniqueness effect, and for organizations to institute selection procedures that do account for a job applicant’s true ability, despite their uniqueness.
DeGarmoThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Roulin, N., Bangerter, A., & Yerly, E. (2011). The uniqueness effect in selection interviews. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 10(1), 43-47.