For job applicants to achieve their goal of making a favourable impression on recruiters, they need to be responsive to the social norms that a personnel selection setting prescribes. One clear social norm in selection contexts is professional dress. Here we explore the consequences that follow from failing to conform to this normative dress code. Specifically, in two studies, we test three contrasting theoretical accounts concerning the effects of nonconformity in dress style on hirability perceptions. We found evidence that the exact impact of dress style depends on the applicant’s qualifications. Whereas low-qualified applicants were punished for dressing in a nonconforming way, high-qualified applicants were granted leeway when violating norms of attire. In Study 2 we replicated and explored three possible mediators of this effect–perceptions of warmth, competence, and power–and found some (very weak) evidence that the observed interaction effect was mediated by perceptions of power. Consistent with the notion of idiosyncrasy credits, our results indicate that highly qualified applicants enjoy greater leeway to flout social norms without facing negative consequences.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
- dress style
- personnel selection