The Bejeezus Out of Me

Startling behavioral science.

Job Search Tip: Don't Drink at the Interview!

The "Imbibing Idiot bias" meets your recruitment dinner.

Psst! Looking for a job? Has your prospective boss invited you to a dinner interview? If so, don't drink! 

And if someone pours wine, don't even pick up the glass.

Publishing in this April's Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers at the University of Michigan and at the Wharton School of Business demonstrate that:

  • Your even holding an alcoholic beverage might diminishes someone's impression of your intelligence.

  • Being seen drinking also makes your arguments seem less persuasive.

  • Job candidates who drink wine during recruiting interviews are seen as less intelligent.

Unfortunately for them, many job candidates have the wrong intuitions about alcohol and interview dinners. In a study of 444 Executive MBA students from Wharton, most students said about a hypothetical dinner interview that ordering wine would make them seem more intelligent than would ordering soda.

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In "The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Consuming Alcohol Can Be Hazardous to your (Perceived) Intelligence," researchers Scott I. Rick and Maurice E. Schweitzer speculate that, "The relationship between alcohol consumption and cognitive impairment is so familiar that mere exposure to alcohol cues causes people to judge [people who are drinking] as less intelligent." 

Want your prospective employer to think your arguments are shoddy and your intelligence just a shade or two weaker than your carefully composed resumé suggests? Then say "Yes, please!" when he or she offers wine. Or ask for just one glass and nurse it all night—common (but woefully misbegotten) advice for alcohol consumption in professional situations.

You may be on the path to prolonged unemployment.

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Scott I. Rick Maurice E. Schweitzer, "The imbibing idiot bias: Consuming alcohol can be hazardous to your (perceived) intelligence." Journal of Consumer Psychology 23, 3 (92013) 212-219.

Rebecca Coffey is author of MURDERS MOST FOUL: And the School Shooters in Our Midst.

Follow Rebecca Coffey on Twitter. @rebeccacoffey

Rebecca Coffey is a science journalist and broadcast commentator with Vermont Public Radio. 

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