Gender in job interviews: Some implications of verbal interactions of women and men

I.E.W.M. Bogaers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The job interview can be seen as a situation in which gender-specific communicative rules might have a severe social impact. Using four interviews drawn from a larger corpus of actual job interviews recorded in several Dutch companies, this study examines whether the speech patterns of the dominant, male, group prove to be the norm in mixed-gender job interviews. The variables of initiation/response behavior, interruption, and laughter on the part of each participant are analyzed. Linguistic features that reflect dominance are examined in all four groups (interviewers and applicants of each sex) and positioned on a scale of conversational styles ranging from most dominant to nondominant. The interaction of gender and status yields a "sociolinguistic hierarchy" in which interviewers rank above applicants, and within each group, males rank above females. This offers support for the argument that a higher-status position does not result as much in a dominant speech style for women as it does for men. Moreover, a lower-status position does not lead as much to a subordinate speech style in men as it does for women. It is argued therefore that not only in everyday conversation, but also in formal speech, differences in sex-specific subcultural communicative rules as well as differences in the communication patterns of different-status persons play an important role in the organization of conversations. © Walter de Gruyter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-58
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number129
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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