For most job candidates, the interview experience is "an emotionally challenging endeavor." To succeed in interviews, candidates must understand the emotional labor needed to "manage their feelings" as they "create a publicly observable facial and bodily display." This is particularly true when recruiters use open-ended interviews that are not constrained to a narrow set of questions. The author's work in conducting research interviews illustrates several aspects of emotional labor in the interview context. Although the author talks from the perspective of the interviewer, this discussion of her own emotional labor is instructive for people entering an open-ended interview as either interviewer or interviewee because the challenges of emotional labor within the open-ended interview context apply to either interview role. Additionally, although she draws on examples of data-gathering interviews within a research context, this discussion of emotional labor applies to any interview setting--research, job interview, and so on--because the difficulties one encounters are similar across various open-ended interview situations. With a greater understanding of how emotional labor operates in open-ended interviews, of any type, job candidates will be better prepared for the emotional labor demands of their own open-ended job interviews.
Date of this Version
Hoffmann EA. The Emotionally Challenging, Open-Ended Interview. Business Communication Quarterly. 2008;71(3):387-390. doi:10.1177/1080569908321430