Understanding Impression Management functionality and effectiveness


According to Erving Goffman [17], the founder of the dramaturgical approach, life is like a play, and we each perform for others: "When an individual plays a part, he will implicitly requests his observers to take seriously the impression that is fostered before them."

Almost every organization conducts at least one interview before making employment decisions. Impression Management (IM) on the part of interviewees is a crucial factor that might affect interview ratings. Interviewers are well aware of interviewee use of impression management. Interviewees try to create a constructive impression. There are some typical examples of Impression Management during interviews include verbal self-promotion; "I am a very hard-working employee". Some typical non-verbal behaviors are looking smart by wearing smart professional clothing and smiling gesture will be a welcoming body posture. To this end, usage of self-focused (IM) must be the most effective method. Whenever an interviewee uses self-promoting statements, which illustrate the interviewee has desirable qualities for the job the interviewee attends interview for. This is considering as a self-focused tactics which will evoke attributions of competence. This self-promoting tactics most likely will invoke interviewers to shortcut the information process and attribute interviewee's behavior to internal causes. Further to add on, (IM) with defensive tactics, example excuses and apologies will put forth comparable effects. These self-protective tactics express fundamental attributions of negative events away from the interviewee or even change the magnitude of such fundamental attributions.


Impression Management: A Qualitative analysis review based on social role theory

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Every interviewee manages his/her behavior and personality in the presence of others in an attempt to create an explicit impression on their interviewer. Consequently, interviewee may create specific impressions on different group of interviewer ; example hiring manager may seek a different self-presentation from the interviewee compared to human resource officer who will be keener to understand interviewee's Impression Management from behavior point of view.[14] As a result, during an interview session, interviewee has to determine his/her special goal for the interaction.

The most frequent type of Impression Management attempts are verbal self promotions - the statements an interviewee makes regarding his/her skills and abilities. These types of statements are considered either assertive (interviewee initiated) or defensive (interviewee response to interviewer assumptions). Assertive self‐promotion is typified by self‐focused statements that indicate the interviewee possesses necessary skills, abilities, and positive characteristics. Both assertive-defensive are dominion of Impression Management which can be best described as 'the association principle", where interviewee try to proclaim with desirable images[16] but however disclaim any undesirable images. Nevertheless, usage of assertive Impression Management tactics are drastically higher compared to Defensive type of Impression Management (IM).

Impression Management Tactics

Impression Management (IM) is defined as type of 'conscious or unconscious attempt to control metaphors that are projected in any type of social interactions'. Frequently, IM results in some behaviors. This includes usage of verbal statements, expressive behaviors, nonverbal behavior and also in integrated behavior patterns, jointly in modification of one's physical appearance. At some point in interview sessions, most of the interviewees do not differ immensely in their dress code and they also have limited ability to take benefit of integrated behavior blueprint. This situation leaves verbal and nonverbal behaviors as most ubiquitous means of managing impression. [1]

Researchers mainly focused on verbal (IM) behavior, which can be split in to two extensive categories of tactics; which are assertive (IM) tactics and defensive (IM) tactics.[6]

Assertive IM Tactics

Assertive Impression Management method are used to 'assert' the illustration that is preferred. This management method are used by interviewees to establish a particular identity but not simply imprudent to situational demands.[12] There are many type of assertive Impression Management projection, most likely, interviewees will trail Impression Management (IM) method by wearing a particular outfit or may try to project a virtue statement in order to make an impression on the interviewer. Assertive-strategic element has been identified as most directly linked with nonverbal communication. This element is frequently used by interviewee to build attraction, status, prestige, credibility or trustworthiness in interviewer's eyes.

Assertive IM tactics are always used to achieve by approving constructive impressions and hold self-promoting and ingratiation tactics.

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Self-promoting tactics are behaviors intended to suggest attributions of competence rather then attractiveness. Normally, interviewee will promote perceptions of competence through the usage of certain precise self-promoting utterances, enhancements, overcoming obstacles and entitlements. All these are sub-categories of the whole self-promoting behaviors. Throughout precise self-promoting utterances, the interviewee's effort to convince the interviewer that he or she has positive qualities and behavior. Self-promoting is very useful for interviewee to respond on experience-based questions. [8]

Ingratiation tactics are known as behaviors, intended to evoke interpersonal liking and attraction, used significantly further higher ratio when interviewee answers situational questions. One of the type of ingratiation is opinion conformity, whereby interviewee expresses her/his opinions, values and beliefs. second form of ingratiation is enhancement, by which interviewee's individual expresses favorable evaluation.

Defensive IM Tactics

Defensive Impression Management techniques are backward-looking and applied in a condition, whereby interviewee is being recognized with negative behaviors or characteristics which are linked with an impression, they do not want.[12] Thus, the interviewee will make effort to 'deny' that image. For an example, this would be a justification for any deprived quality of work the interviewee may have done in his/her previous job. As a consequence, defensive technique will help interviewee to uphold a positive reputation.[5]

If assertive (IM) tactics are considered to strengthen interviewee's image, whereas defensive (IM) tactics are considered to project and revamp interviewee's image. Researchers, have identified a few types of defensive tactics which include apologies, justifications and excuses. Example, for any type of negative behavior, excuses are claims that interviewee is not responsible for the act.

However, justifications, involve accepting responsibility for any type of negative outcome but propose that the negative outcome is not as bad as it seems.

On the other hand, apologies take it one step further by accepting responsibility for any negative behavior, with acknowledgement that certain trial were intolerable and it must be penalized.

When will Impression Management take place?

(IM) usage and involvement during interview is very crucial. Therefore, it is important to understand the correlation between these different aspects of the interview process which will be helpful for Human Resource officers, to understand how Impression Management will effect employment interviews. This is important in order for the associated interviewer from human resource will be able to eliminate the negative effects of Impression Management usage. Whilst personality of an interviewee is measured prior to any interview processes, interviewer will be able to determine the extent of changes by using different personality traits the interviewee portray.[13] As an example, highly philanthropic individuals tend to be less paying attention on themselves. Consequently, they are more likely to use Impression Management behaviors which will be only related to ingratiating themselves with others, rather than using (IM) for self-promoting and for defensive excuses. Correspondingly, more self‐disciplined people are further likely to organize for interviews and contribute additional time and effort to how they will act in response to probable questions.

(IM) Tactics use in Structured Interviews

It has been suggested by researchers that interviews offer both interviewee and interviewer the best fitted opportunity to deal with their impressions because both groups will be attempting to fit the needs of the offer. There are a number of experimental studies which sustain this statement which clearly indicates Impression Management (IM) tactics do, in fact, appear quite repeatedly during any type of employment interview situations.[11] Normally, (IM) tactics are used in unstructured interviews. However, structured interviews contain a number of components that have the impending to reduce any type of (IM) tactics.

Social Role Theory

Human-being, both men and women soak up diverse roles in the communal order (example, contributor, caregiver) and through these roles; they learn diverse skills and beliefs that relate to communal behavior. Both men and women are as well subject to different normative expectations for behavior. According to communal role theory these factors lead to different behavior on the part of men and women. Men are anticipated to be more vigorous (example, assertive, controlling, independent), and women are projected to be more mutual (example, concerned for the welfare of others, interpersonally sensitive, emotionally expressive).

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The implication of this hypothesis for Impression Management (IM) in organizations is that men and women may both perform in a different way and be anticipated to perform in a different way in the workplace (example, men may feel normative stress to be assertive, and women may feel normative stress to be fostering). The gender role prospect carry over to the types of jobs considered suitable for men and women as well as to the acuity of the behavior of men and women in organizational situations. For an example, a nurse is seen as a feminine-typed job, and a doctor is seen as a manly typed job. In addition, forcefulness in a man is observed as a gender "fitting" behavior, while an forceful woman is seen as violating gender-based expectations for behavior and may be thought of in a offensive manner.

Social roles impact Impression Management (IM) because they establish normative expectations for individual behavior. As a consequence, we would anticipate that the normative expectations for behavior should vary both by the organizational background as well as the characteristics of the communications. For instance, although self-promotion is considered suitable for a job interview,[15] a woman who engages in self-promotion may be perceived as violating feminine gender role-custom since self-promotion is not a feminine characteristic. This observable fact has been termed the backlash consequence.


Based on the analysis from existing articles, Impression Management (IM) is an application applied by numerous type of community, especially those who has to grow to be interviewee, even when it is for a very short time. Impression Management (IM) has continued to cooperate as vital part in interviewee's profession growth no matter if the interviewee is a male or female. What actually become a difference between the usage of Impression Management (IM) between a man and woman is the way, how the community the interviewee lives in interpret it. Community used to think (IM) usage should be more constructive for man judged against a woman. Nevertheless in the present area of drastic change in human-being civilization, both male and female are treated far much equally compared to two decades before.

The mainly important discovery was that the importance of (IM) tactics was comparatively small as compared to the importance attached to job-related competencies. Therefore, capability ratings were more important in determining on the whole evaluations than interviewees' Impression Management tactics. This was a robust finding as it was found in both examples. Nevertheless, it has put emphasis on capability ratings; this does not mean that the impact of (IM) is insignificant. Instead, results recommend that the impact of (IM) must be put in a broader perspective as it seems to be comparatively small compared to more relevant cues.

It should be renowned, though, that the high degree of interview structure might have reduced individual differences among interviewers and therefore the potential beneficial effects of experience. There is a saying that one should not blow his own trumpet, but (IM) is actually a vigorous avenue whereby, one can share the achievements and contributions to society in large and business organization on a close-up outlook. Most of the time, this is done by interviewee who has provide evidence which a based on full integrity and reliability. Interviewer on the listening part has sufficient access to verify the genuineness of each and every testimonial shared by interviewee during an interview session. For an example, a well knowledge interviewer should be able to justify an interviewee's statement while looking at the interviewee's body language, qualification, and eye-contact as well as by validating both assertive and defensive amount of (IM) used by the interviewee. As more and more organizations come up with fresh ways to attract candidates, "messing with" the expected interview experience may be detrimental - which will place the interviewee in situation where there isn't clear expectations for behavior, directs to greater probability of Impression Management.

Even said so, Impression Management, occasionally called as strategic communication, refers to the strategies used by organizations to create, maintain, or improve their public image, in this case, (IM) is a crucial strategic used by both interviewer and interviewee during interview which at many occasion plays as the ice-breaker between hiring manager and his new prospective new joiner. Impression Management strategies are characterized by their self-serving posture. A strategy that is self-serving is typified by one taking credit for positive outcomes and placing blame on others for negative outcomes. The usage of Impression Management can actually deform the results of experimental research that relies on interviews and surveys, a phenomenon vastly referred to as "communal desirability bias". Even said so, Impression Management (IM) hypothesis affirms that every individual and any type of organization must establish and at the same occasion maintain impressions that are very similar with the observations they want to convey to the public or interviewer. Nevertheless, the idea that perception is reality is the basis for this social psychology hypothesis. In conclusion, one might scrutinize the interviewer-interviewee interaction processes for detaching light on the respective (IM) tactics being used at any one time.


This article is a conceptual research that utilizes literature review and analysis approach to analysis and interpret Impression Management functionality & effectiveness in Job Securing Interviews: A Qualitative Review based on Social Role Theory. Throughout an extremely competitive business environment, a number of factors can contribute to one's success or failure; clearly some of these factors involve gender differences in nonverbal communication. The employment interview is a defining point in a process leading to a specific outcome; one is either hired or redundant. During such a pivotal situation, it is possible to evaluate the impact of gender nonverbal factors on the impressions created and the final employment resolution.

It is the challenge of organizational theory, research and practice to further improve the organization's ability to differentiate between desirable behavior and Impression Management (IM) behavior, and consequently to find better ways to encourage one without promoting the other, through the planning of organizational systems and leadership. The findings help to broaden our understanding of the ways in which organizational norms affect people's behavior at work, suggesting that employees specifically attempt to impress their relevant reference groups and create impressions that are consistent with organizational norms and expectations

Impression Management is a dynamic process that occurs continuously during interpersonal interactions. As individuals interact with one another, they frequently search for cues or signals that indicate how others distinguish them, which includes the perception of a hiring manager towards his//her most prospective new joiner.

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