Looking for a job? Internships are a great way to gain practical experience before entering the workforce, post graduation. In fact, many companies report that nearly 89% of new hires were previous interns. So, is it reasonable to assume that an internship opportunity is the guaranteed gateway to getting hired? Not quite. Until now, however, little research has studied how interns can obtain job offers or how host organizations can convince interns to stick around.
THE ROLE OF IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT
Researchers (Zhao & Liden, 2011) investigated how interns and organizations, both, use impression management (IM) techniques to satisfy recruitment goals. Employees perform IM through self-promotion techniques (pointing out strengths to appear competent), or through ingratiation (engaging in flattering behaviors to increase likeability). Interns wish to make an impression on an organization in hopes of receiving a job offer. Organizations perform IM through supervisory mentoring, listening to interns’ creative ideas, and demonstrating the possibility of growing within the organization – in hopes of expressing that they are a desirable workplace.
The researchers proposed two main ideas: (a) Interns seeking a job are more likely to perform IM, and (b) organizations are more likely to perform IM if they intend to make job offers. Results of the given study show that interns who actively used IM in the form of self-promotion alone had an additional 51% chance of being offered the job compared to those who didn’t. Likewise, interns who used ingratiation alone experienced an additional 55% chance of receiving a job offer compared to those who didn’t. In fact, IM techniques had a stronger influence than even performance in terms of receiving a job offer. Organizations proved to perform higher levels of IM through supervisory mentoring and fostering creativity when they were looking to extend job offers.
While there is much more room for research in the field of IM, one thing is certain: an internship doesn’t guarantee a job offer, but a few compliments to the boss and a little bit of self-promotion can certainly help.
Zhao, H., & Liden, R. C. (2011). Internship: A recruitment and selection perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(1), 221–229.