The temptation to “big yourself up” when applying for a job – extolling your virtues to the interviewer while merely mentioning your flaws in passing – is a common one. The fear of course is that candour could well compromise the chances of a job offer.

But new research has indicated that the opposite may well be true. It seems that being candid not only does not hinder your chances of getting a job, it can also mean greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organisation for which you work.

Daniel Cable a visiting professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School and Virginia Kay, a PhD student at Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at two groups of individuals over several years, MBA graduates and applicants for teachers jobs. They found that candour, or as they describe it, self verification, does not diminish the chances of landing a job and could also be advantageous, as from the very beginning, the employer knows you for who you really are.

Their paper “Striving for self-verification during organizational entry” is drawn from two studies. The first looked at 146 MBA students at four different points in their lives: their interviews to join the MBA programme; an assessment of their self verification when applying for summer internships; their final grades and four months after graduation looking at job-search success (interviews and offers) and job satisfaction. A second study looked at 208 job seekers around the world for teaching positions.

The researchers found that those individuals with a candid approach were more likely to have “superior job outcomes”. The writers suggest three reasons for this.

Candid individuals they say are more likely to join organisations that reflect their own personal values and goals. Secondly “if individuals do not promise what they cannot deliver in terms of their skills and abilities, they are more likely to be selected into jobs they are actually suited to perform”. suggest hat if individuals are not true to themselves they can create a sense of alienation from themselves.

Prof Cable says that he would always argue the importance of being true to oneself, even if it might cost you a job offer, but discovering that candour does not hamper your “chances in the short term while it helps everyone in the long term is a great outcome”.

The paper is published in the April/May issue of The Academy of Management Journal.

● How a company decides to expand can – if it goes about it the wrong way – spell disaster.

Academics Laurence Capron, a visiting professor of strategy at MIT Sloan School of Management from Insead and Will Mitchell, a professor of international management at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University say that while companies take the idea of growth extremely seriously, they pay far less attention to deciding on the right path for this expansion.

Prof Capron says that many companies make a “potentially fatal mistake” of relying on only one type of growth, such as acquisitions or partnerships, when instead they should be looking at all the options available.

In their book Build, borrow or buy: Solving the growth dilemma, the authors examine data drawn from two decades of research and suggest that if a company selects only one growth path and sticks with it, it could well hamper its chances of long-term success.

Those companies that diversify their growth structure are 46 per cent more likely to be in business five years later say the writers, compared with those companies that focus solely on alliances and they are 26 per cent more likely to survive than those companies that rely solely on mergers and acquisitions for growth.

Prof Capron believes that the key “is to have an optimal mix of internal and external growth”.

Few companies are aware both how difficult and how important it is to correctly identify the route for expansion. “Such a lack of understanding goes a long way toward explaining why many viable strategies fail,” she says.

Get alerts on Business education when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article