Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 2 2004, page 24-39.
English resume

Job interviews

The ritualised access to the labour market

Iben Jensen

Many Danish employers claim that they are more than willing to employ applicants with ethnic minority background if they are as qualified as the ethnic Danish applicants. But does the job interview give all applicants the same possibility to present themselves as qualified? Do the interviewers have sufficient intercultural competence to give all applicants an equal position to speak from? Do all applicants get the same guidance?

The article investigates job interviews from two different theoretical perspectives. The first perspective is inspired by Pierre Bourdieu and discusses the labour market as a social field. It is argued that the job interview is a central ritual - a kind of gatekeeping - that can give access to the social field. The second perspective is inspired by researchers as Dorte Marie Søndergaard, Bronwyn Davies and Ron Harré, who define themselves as social constructionists. From this perspective it is asked: How are ethnicity, gender and qualifications negotiated in job interviews in multicultural societies?

The negotiation is shown in an analysis of one case. It is argued that more equality could be achieved if the interviewers: 1) were more aware of their own participation in the communication process, 2) gave the same guidance (feed back) to all applicants, 3) avoided ethnic positioning not relevant to the job, (as it takes time from the applicants’ professional performance), 4) were more aware of the ritualisation of job interviews, and 5) were more aware of intercultural communication.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt