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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 172-173

Impression management – How much does this serious confounder influence in interviews/examinations?

Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India

Date of Web Publication31-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. V Dinesh Kumar
Department of Anatomy, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMH.AMH_43_18

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How to cite this article:
Kumar V D. Impression management – How much does this serious confounder influence in interviews/examinations?. Arch Ment Health 2018;19:172-3

How to cite this URL:
Kumar V D. Impression management – How much does this serious confounder influence in interviews/examinations?. Arch Ment Health [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 May 28];19:172-3. Available from: https://www.amhonline.org/text.asp?2018/19/2/172/248894


Any form of social interactions in health-care settings, particularly those involving objective assessment of multiple candidates in a short span of time, is seldom free from heuristics. Apart from interviews for recruitment and promotion purposes, assessment methods in the era of competency-based education rely upon direct observation of learners and ultimately result in inter-examiner variability in the judgment of learner's performance.[1] In this context, the concept of impression management gains importance, whereby assessee makes a deliberate attempt to keep their best foot forward by demonstrating verbal or nonverbal cues in an attempt to control the impressions formed by others about the assessee.[2] From our practical experience, we could perceive that self-promoted utterances are beneficial in creating images of competence because the interviewer/examiner does not have prior experience or knowledge of the candidate other than what is presented during the interview.[2]

Studies[3],[4] have shown that impression management tactics could be classified in a spectrum ranging from honest ones, whereby the candidate evokes interpersonal attraction with the interviewer or by self-promoting their competence to deceptive ones, whereby the candidate expresses fabricated beliefs or by taking undue credits of accomplishments. It is obvious that majority of us would have used one or other impression management tactic in the interviews we have attended. However, few questions often linger in this issue. Can these ingratiation tactics lead to fabrication and deceit and thereby reducing the predictive validity of process? Could a skilled person who is erstwhile a sympathetic physician but fails to demonstrate an impression tactic never make through the objective assessments? Furthermore, what happens when the initial impression about someone turns out to be wrong?

A lack of empirical data exists in this area related to medical academia as there is no published research correlating interview scores with the genuine academic productivity of the candidate. Nevertheless, few measures could be suggested to mitigate the influence of inadvertent tactics in the final decision made during the interview process. First, the interviewers should be trained to identify and interpret the use of impression tactics within an interview.[5] Often, this could be a contaminable variable with baby boomer generation interviewers who value conventional hierarchies and explicit demonstration over implicit talent. Second, the questions in the interview should be raised according to the interpretation conceived about the candidate in due course of the interview. For example, if the interviewers feel that the candidate makes frequent deceptive ingratiation utterances, then they could resort to experience-based questions. Third, some major pitfalls which arise due to impression tactics such as “halo effect,” whereby the overexpression of noncognitive attributes is mistaken for command over knowledge base and contrast bias, whereby candidates are compared to each other rather than discrete criterion[6] should be avoided to the maximum extent. In fact, “Halo effect” results in engulfing of individual attributes by overall impression generated.[7] Fourth, considering the possibility of these tactics in job-related settings, it may be appropriate that the interviewer includes impression management in ratings.

To conclude, in existing hypercompetitive environment, interviewers could not bat a blind eye regarding impression management tactics, and scorching reality is that every one of us, irrespective of the position and specialty, uses these to a variable extent. However, when such tactics go beyond the range, it has the potential to introduce errors in the assessment process and leads to selection of nonvital candidates. Further, the loss of a genuine talent owing to the generation of negative first impression in the interviews should be concerned for. Any organization wishing to fortify the structured interview formats should be able to judge the candidature beyond the impression tactics, and this mandates training of the interviewers in this regard.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Holmboe ES, Sherbino J, Long DM, Swing SR, Frank JR. The role of assessment in competency-based medical education. Med Teach 2010;32:676-82.  Back to cited text no. 1
Bolino M, Long D, Turnley W. Impression management in organizations: Critical questions, answers, and areas for future research. Ann Rev Organ Psychol Organ Behav 2016;3:377-406.  Back to cited text no. 2
Chen CH, Lee HM, Yeh YJ. The antecedent and consequence of person-organization fit: Ingratiation, similarity, hiring recommendations and job offer. Int J Sel Assess 2008;16:210-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Levashina J, Campion MA. Measuring faking in the employment interview: Development and validation of an interview faking behavior scale. J Appl Psychol 2007;92:1638-56.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ferris GR, Judge TA. Personnel/human resource management: A political influence perspective. J Manag 1991;17:447-88.  Back to cited text no. 5
Swann RF, Bolton DM, Lawrentschuk N. The career medical interview: Solid selector or just ‘impression management’? BJU Int 2015;116 Suppl 3:3-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
Beeson MS, Hamstra SJ, Barton MA, Yamazaki K, Counselman FL, Shayne PH, et al. Straight line scoring by clinical competency committees using emergency medicine milestones. J Grad Med Educ 2017;9:716-20.  Back to cited text no. 7


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