The Psychology of the Shortlist

Imagine this scenario: A plum job has opened up, one that you really want and feel well qualified to hold. So you go through the rigorous process of applying. You line up references, write essays, and finally get an interview. The interview goes well and you’re feeling confident, and indeed you get a call saying you’ve been shortlisted for the job. Out of a pool of a hundred applicants, you are among just three who are highly and equally qualified. Would you come back in for another round of interviews?

You can almost taste victory now. So you do the interviews, and again all seems to go very well.

Then the job goes to someone else.

How do you feel? Well, common wisdom says that you’re feeling lousy, totally deflated. It’s widely believed that winning is motivating, and that losing saps our motivation. But what about that shortlist? Does it help that you came close, or does that make it worse?

That’s the question that Monica Wadhwa and JeeHye Kim, marketing experts at INSEAD, in Singapore, have been exploring. They had the intriguing idea that the experience of nearly obtaining a reward might lead to an intensified–but unsatisfied–motivational state, which near-winners might then try —> Read More Here


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