I don’t know about you, but I find job interviews to be fairly nerve racking. There are a lot of different things that we have to be aware of when we are interviewing for that next job. We have to dress correctly, be polite, show up on time, and a host of other things that are not directly related to our manager skills. It turns out that there might be something else that we need to do correctly. We need to bring the right, not the wrong, accessories along with us.
What Message Do You Want To Send?
Let’s say you’re hiring a manager for your new nightclub. One candidate arrives carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag; another, an unidentifiable bag. You might feel the candidate with the luxury-brand bag is better connected and more able to fit in with your business. Now imagine you’ve been tasked with interviewing managers for your charity. If the same two candidates showed up which candidate will better represent your business?
A large body of research has been done that shows that luxury brands convey wealth, high social standing and power. Status is a central core of the marketing of luxury-goods. But researchers recently asked if wearing luxury brands can ever backfire. What managers need to understand is if there might be a social cost to flashing a Gucci or Burberry logo? Who has any manager training for dealing with issues like this? The results of the studies show that there can be a social cost to luxury goods, particularly when it comes to first impressions of the sort created during job interviews.
Research that has been done suggests that job seekers should carefully consider the messages that a Rolex watch, logo leather goods and other luxury products convey in a particular setting. What managers need to understand is that when a job requires trustworthiness, empathy, likability or kindness, luxury goods might best be left behind. What managers need to understand is that the brands we choose to adorn ourselves with signal rank. We need to realize that high status isn’t desirable for every job. There can be a dark side to luxury goods. You have to ask yourself, what am I wearing and in front of whom?
What Message Do You Want To Send?
To explore the complex reactions that appearing with luxury goods can cause, four experiments were conducted. Three were conducted with paid subjects who participated online, and one was conducted in which participants came to a lab to participate. In one of the experiments, 120 male and female participants were shown identical photos of a man in a T-shirt. In one case the T-shirt had no logo on it. In others, the shirt had a Gucci logo on it (the researchers chose Gucci because it ranks among the top global luxury brands).
During the experiment the participants were then asked to rate the man on various characteristics such as class, social status, warmth and caring. The results showed that the participants rated the Gucci-logo man lower for traits like warmth, trustworthiness and kindness but as having higher status. They also felt that the Gucci man was trying very hard to manage their impression of him. The researchers then replicated the same experiment with 120 different men and women, this time using identical photos of a woman with a handbag – one unmarked, the other a luxury Burberry bag with its trademark plaid pattern. Once again the participants rated the woman with the Burberry bag to have higher status but lower warmth.
During further studies 115 undergraduates were asked to review questionnaires filled out by candidates for a manager position, and to select the candidate with whom they would most like to work. The questionnaires were identical to each other except that some mentioned luxury-brand names – Rolex, Prada, Burberry, Porsche – in the candidates’ answers. The results of this study showed that the students preferred to work with the luxury-brand candidate for a publicity job, but picked the nonluxury-brand candidate for the human-resources job. What the study showed was that people were choosing based on whether status or warmth were necessary. What’s more, it seems people ascribe motives to others who wear luxury brands. Participants who believed the brands were flashed to influence how they felt about the person – what the researchers called “impression management” – felt most strongly that those candidates lacked warmth, trustworthiness and kindness.
What All Of This Means For You
These findings found that status symbols such as luxury goods can block the formation of new friendships. What managers need to realize is that it turned out that many people found the status-signaling to be a turnoff.
Numerous other studies have explored the status-defining powers of brands. It has been found that luxury brands elicited preferential treatment and even financial benefits. When wearing expensive products into situations where impressions count, managers need to consider whether signaling high status will be a benefit or a hindrance.
In hiring, these symbols can be misinterpreted by the person who is interviewing you. These luxury symbols have power. Managers need to realize that there’s a dark side that’s pretty complex.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: What criteria do you think that you should use when deciding if you should take luxury products to an interview?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Hey manager – the world is changing. Are you ready for it? Let’s all be honest about how things are going: uncertainty is a key part of our everyday lives. As managers who are trying to use our manager skills to get the most out of our teams, it’s up to us to realize that change is happening and then to find ways to deal with it. What all of this means for us is that we need to find ways to become more flexible so that we can deal with all of the changes that are coming our way.