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Self-Report Data

This is essentially what people say about themselves in interviews (both structured and unstructured), personality and other preference tests, and CVs, personal statements or application forms. These are very common ways of assessing people. Most want and expect an interview when they can answer questions and talk about themselves. Further, most people now have a skilfully crafted CV, indeed multiple versions, which are available electronically to send to various potential employers.

There are, however, two major problems with self-reports. The first is referred to under various names - dissimulation, faking or lying. It concerns people giving false or embellished information about themselves. This behaviour has been broken down by psychologists into two further types. The first is called ‘impression management’: this is when the person attempts to create a good impression by leaving out information, adding untrue information (errors of omission and commission), as well as giving answers that are not strictly correct but, they hope, will create a good impression. This is done consciously and is very common (Cook, 2009; Furnham, 2008). Indeed, it is expected in the answer to some questions, but it can be very serious when, for instance, people claim to have qualifications or experiences they have not had, or leave out important information (e.g., about their health, criminal past).

The second is ‘self-deception’. This occurs when individuals in their own view answer honestly, but what they say is untrue because they lack self-awareness. Thus they might honestly believe that they are a ‘good listener’ whereas evidence from reliable sources is that this is not the case. This can occur for both good qualities (cognitive and emotional intelligence) and weaknesses (impulsivity, depression). People with low self-awareness often self-deceive. The way personality and other preference tests attempt to deal with this is to use lie scales in the test. There are many of these and they go under various names. They are generally known as measures of response bias.

The third is self-insight. This is primarily concerned with what people cannot say about themselves even if they wanted to. This is best seen with such issues as motivation where people cannot, rather than will not, give honest answers about the extent to which they are motivated by power or security. Indeed, motivation is one of the most difficult topics to assess accurately, yet business people think of it as among the most important.

This chapter examines the curriculum vitae (CV), which is a presentational document that people construct to give a resume of their education, experience, education, and so on. Although many organizations still ask people to complete an application form, it is common for applicants to have a prepared CV (also called a resume), which allows them to choose what information to give others.

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