Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Psychology, Industrial and Organizational

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Therese Macan, PhD


Stephanie Merritt

John Meriac

Alice Hall


There is a great deal of advice available from authors of interviewing guidebooks regarding the types of questions applicants should ask during the job interview, if any. Yet, there has been limited research investigating the impact of applicant questions to the interviewer on interview outcomes to support the varied opinions disseminated. This paper focuses on how whether applicants ask questions during employment interviews affects the attributions and hiring ratings interviewers make of applicants. The variables examined (applicant résumé qualifications, applicant interview performance before questions are asked, whether the questions can or cannot be answered on the company website, and whether interviewers believe in general that applicants should or should not ask questions) are rooted within a larger process model of applicant interviewing behaviors, also presented in this paper. Employed business and psychology students (N=353) assumed the role of interviewer and evaluated a single candidate for a management trainee position based on a résumé and videotaped interview performance. Results from two studies support the idea that whether or not the applicant asks questions, and in fewer cases whether the questions could have been answered in advance, can affect the attributions interviewers make about applicants. However, more than the questions applicants ask, the interview performance of the applicant has an even greater impact on both attributions made about the applicant and hiring ratings. This line of research has important real world implications, given that it can help guide job applicants to successful questioning behaviors during the interview.

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