The Center for Retailing Studies at Mays will host its fall retailing career fair on Tuesday, September 14. Space is limited, but there is room for several more companies to participate in the event. (Register now to participate.)

There are approximately 200 retailing students at Mays, however the career fair is open to all students on the A&M campus, and typically attracts 400 participants. Last year, a range of companies such as Macy’s, H-E-B, Walgreens and Payless recruited students through the event.

The career fair is a valuable opportunity, both for the students and the companies that participate, says Cheryl Holland Bridges, center director. “The retailing career fair connects our industry partners with students who are enthusiastic and prepared to begin careers in store management, merchandising, buying, marketing, supply chain, and other retail support areas,” she says.

The career fair kicks off on Monday, September 13, at 5:30 p.m. with a company showcase, including company presentations and a casual reception for retailers and select students.

More event details may be found at

To register, visit

About the Center for Retailing Studies

Founded in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies bridges the academic and business communities by educating the next generation of retail leadership and serving the industry through research and executive education.

Categories: Centers

Scott Terry ’80 was a student at A&M when he saw up close the effect of the generosity of the Aggie family: his roommate received a President’s Endowed Scholarship. Terry thought to himself, maybe someday I could do that for a student.

Scott Terry '80
Terry ’80

Now, more than 30 years later, Terry hasn’t forgotten that desire. He has committed to a planned gift of $100,000, which will be used to endow a President’s Endowed Scholarship at Mays.

Terry, a senior vice president for Merrill Lynch in Tyler, works in financial planning and wealth management He says he frequently counsels his clients to add philanthropic activity to their estate planning. “I decided it was time to eat some of my own cooking,” he says.

Joking aside, Terry says that as a former student and as an Aggie parent, he understands his obligation to give back to the school. “If we fail to reinvest in the institutions that have benefitted us, then we have failed those that enabled our success,” he says. Terry hopes that his gift will enable future generations of Aggies to find success at Mays.

Two of Terry’s four children have graduated from A&M, one with a degree in business and the other with a business minor. “The business school is a special place for me,” says Terry.

Terry and his wife, Terry, reside in Tyler. In addition to their support of A&M, they also volunteer their time and resources with the East Texas Communities Foundation, Bethesda Health Clinic, the Tyler Catholic School System, Salvation Army, and United Way.

Terry graduated from A&M with a degree in finance in 1980. He earned a CPA and joined (what is now) Bank of America after graduation. He spent 17 years in the Dallas, Midland, and Tyler offices, working in Commercial Lending. He has been with Merrill Lynch for 13 years.

The Texas A&M Foundation is a non-profit organization that receives major gifts and manages endowments for the sole benefit of Texas A&M University.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Don’t toss that soda can! Recycling it can help a disabled veteran receive business training at Mays.

Through an initiative called the Dream Machine, PepsiCo and Waste Management hope to increase consumer recycling of beverage containers and at the same time support America’s disabled military veterans by providing substantial financial support to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV).

EBV is a national program available through six prominent schools of business across the country, including Mays.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

PepsiCo and Waste Management hope to use the Dream Machine initiative to increase the U.S. beverage-container recycling rate from 34 percent to 50 percent by 2018 and to provide funding to the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), which offers free, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small-business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities. The more people who recycle bottles and cans in a Dream Machine, the more support PepsiCo will provide to the program to offer career training, education and job creation to returning U.S. veterans.

“We are extremely grateful for the support and backing of Pepsi and Waste Management. This is a significant step forward for us since we rely totally on donations to fund this important program,” says Richard Lester, clinical associate professor of management and director of the EBV program at A&M. “It is my hope to use this support to help create an endowment to sustain our program for the long run.”

What is a Dream Machine?

The Dream Machine kiosks are computerized receptacles that include a personal reward system that allows consumers to collect and redeem points for each bottle or can they recycle. The Dream Machine recycling initiative will introduce thousands of new recycling kiosks in popular public venues to make it more convenient and rewarding for consumers to recycle on the go. (At this time, there is not a Dream Machine in Bryan/College Station.)

The more people who recycle bottles and cans in a Dream Machine, the more support PepsiCo will provide to the program to offer career training, education and job creation to returning U.S. veterans.

PepsiCo has also entered into a partnership with national nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful to encourage community involvement in the program by engaging nearly 600 local Keep America Beautiful affiliate organizations in communities nationwide.

Partnering with the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities is an extension of PepsiCo’s current relationship with American Corporate Partners, a nationwide mentoring program dedicated to helping veterans transition from the armed forces to private enterprise. The Dream Machines will be manufactured by Waste Management’s GreenOps, a subsidiary of Waste Management, and operated by Greenopolis, the first interactive recycling system that brings together online and on-street technologies and rewards people for recycling their beverage containers in kiosks by allowing them to receive awards when they visit

Visit for more on the Dream Machine initiative.

What is EBV?

Now a national consortium, the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities opens the door to business ownership for U.S. veterans by helping them develop skills that relate to the many steps associated with launching and growing a small business.

The EBV program was introduced by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in 2007. Now the program is offered in consortium with Mays, UCLA, Florida State University, Purdue, and the University of Connecticut.

The program consists of a three-week online self-study, a nine-day on-campus residency period, and a year of mentorship with a faculty member volunteer as participants launch their new ventures. The program provides participants not only with the practical skills necessary to make their new venture a success, but also a network of support that will be vital as they launch their ideas.

Thanks to the generous support of corporate sponsors and private individuals, the entire program — including tuition, travel and accommodations — is offered at no cost to the veterans. (To give to this program at A&M, visit the Texas A&M Foundation website.)

This August, Mays will host its third EBV program. To see coverage from previous years, click here.

Categories: Donors Corner, Programs

I wrote last week about LeBron James’s over-the-top announcement show. Jim Gray, who interviewed James for the show, is not my favorite announcer. His self-interest comes through loud and clear in what he does, and he claimed in an interview with Charlie Rose last night that the program was his idea. Despite Gray’s lack of objectivity in the matter, he made one valid point. The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, vented after James made his decision to leave Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, saying that LeBron was a traitor and that he had quit during the playoffs. Gray pointed out that Gilbert had not let that stop him from trying to sign LeBron, and he said the criticism was way over the top, something he had never seen before.

Then he hasn’t been looking. Burning bridges is becoming an art form in our society. I have not really figured out why this is so. Why are people so willing to sacrifice long-established relationships for the brief satisfaction of retaliating for a hurt?

Of course, many more people spend time on blogs (not this one) blowing off steam and accusing unseen others of having bad motives in their comments. They practice retaliation on people they don’t know without any readily discernible consequences. But this not only changes the quality of our discourse, it changes these people inside. The practiced emboldening enabled by the anonymous blog eventually laps over into conversations with people they know, and even people they love.

When the U.S. economy struggles, employer loyalty tends to wane. Layoffs lead to a generally suspicious tone in many workplaces, where employees no longer believe that management has their best interests at heart. Layoffs lead to accusations against the company, and those making the decisions. There are legitimate reasons to sue employers (including being fired as a retaliatory move for doing the right thing), but doing it just to make yourself feel better and make them miserable is a losing proposition.

Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter is a poster child for bridge burning. However, his transparent reasons for switching parties did not win him great favor within the Democratic party, and he was not even able to survive his first primary contest running as a Democrat. I am pretty confident that he will not be recruited back by the Republicans.

Dan Gilbert’s response to LeBron’s abandonment seemed to be visceral, and not simply contrived, though I am guessing it will sell tickets and pump up season ticket holder loyalty. In fact, many Cleveland fans wrote in offering to pay part of his fine from the NBA for his comments. But he has burned a bridge with his former star, one it would have been hard to imagine him burning just a month or two ago. His temper tantrum will likely have permanent effects.

Perhaps the most devastating bridge burning I have seen has been in failing marriages, where one hurt is layered on top of the next. And it not only twists the characters of the vengeful parents, it leaves scars on the children that linger long after. I weep for those kids.

There may be bridges worth burning, but most are not. I have come within a word or two of doing it on occasion. In fact, in a few instances, I have likely said that word or two. But I am hard at work learning never to do it again.

I can say it is because life is too short for prolonged anger, and that is true. But, more importantly, in surrendering to the temptation to retaliate, I have allowed that other person to control who I am as a man. They have no right; only I can give it to them.

And it is my hope, in the inevitable day when my personal circumstances deteriorate because of someone else’s actions, that I will not give them that right.

Categories: Bottom Line Ethics

Michael A. Murillo ’62 says that he knows the burden of the cost of education first-hand. He also knows the benefit of an Aggie education. That is why he and his wife, Patsy, have committed to a planned gift of $25,000 to endow a scholarship at Mays.

Michael A. '62 and Patsy Murillo
Michael A. ’62 and Patsy Murillo

“I can’t do enough for A&M,” says Murillo, who credits his success to the education he received here. His wife, though not a former student, is an even more die-hard Aggie than he is, he says. The Murillos, who will soon celebrate 50 years of marriage, enjoy attending Aggie football, basketball (men’s and women’s), and softball games. “Let’s put it this way: our blood is maroon,” says Murillo.

Of his time at A&M, Murillo says that in addition to the challenge of his college course work, paying for college was also a difficulty. He hopes his gift will help a student in similar circumstances.

“We truly appreciate the Murillos’ generosity,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Their gift will truly impact a number of young people by providing them with the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Murillo made his career with Continental Airlines, where he was director of planning and operations at the company headquarters in Houston. Today, he and Patsy live in College Station where they are enjoying retirement volunteering at their church, golfing, and spending time with their six grandchildren. The couple has two daughters, one of whom graduated from A&M in 1987. One of their granddaughters also graduated from A&M in 2006. “We have a legacy at A&M,” says Murillo.

In addition to his bachelor’s of business administration degree from A&M, Murillo also holds an MBA from Houston Baptist University.

The Texas A&M Foundation is a non-profit organization that receives major gifts and manages endowments for the sole benefit of Texas A&M University.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Distinguished Professor of Management R. Duane Ireland, Conn Chair in New Ventures Leadership, has recently been named a Fellow of the Strategic Management Society. Election to the Fellows group recognizes and honors members of the society who have made significant contributions to the theory and practice of strategic management.

R. Duane Ireland

This is an added achievement to his already lengthy list, which includes a leadership position with the Academy of Management. He is also the current editor of the Academy of Management Journal. For Ireland’s bio and links to his research, click here.

“This recognition is a fitting tribute to Duane’s years of contribution to the field of management as a scholar, teacher, and leader,” says Bala Shetty, executive associate dean and Letbetter Chair in Business. “We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber in Mays Business School. Not only he is an accomplished scholar and teacher, he is also a fine individual.”

The Strategic Management Society consists of more than 2,500 members from 60+ countries. Composed of academics, business practitioners, and consultants, the group focuses on the development and dissemination of insights on the strategic management process, as well as on fostering global networking.

Currently, the society has 51 Fellows, including one other Mays faculty member, Distinguished Professor Michael Hitt, Joe B. Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership. Hitt is also on the board of directors of the society.

Categories: Faculty

Sometimes even nice people are so self-serving that they deserve a blog of their own. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is not a very interesting character for me to write about normally. But tonight, he will announce to a breathless world where he will be playing basketball for the next five or six years. Since the announcement consists of one word (probably “Miami” or “Cleveland”), it seems a little over-the-top to schedule a one-hour special with a full slate of commercials. That is, of course, unless you see yourself as an industry rather than a person.

Of course, some of the money from selling the advertising will reportedly go to the Boys and Girls Clubs, a very worthwhile charity, and one that James faithfully supports. I have seen the kind of difference they make in our community, and I am hesitant to be critical of any effort that benefits them, even if the whole thing smacks of self-promotion.

But the self-worship that characterizes the NBA nowadays makes it difficult for me to be objective in evaluating motives. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify stars with at least significant vestiges of humility any more. I lived in San Antonio for the prime of Tim Duncan’s career, and I watched him willingly share the limelight with teammates like David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. In fact, he was always the person speaking to the press about the exploits of those who were rarely lauded—Bruce Bowen or Steve Kerr or Malik Rose. And he won four championships, none of which the San Antonio Spurs would have won without him.

Now NBA players seek their own cult following. Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat star who is trying to lure James to his team, was on TV today wearing a t-shirt that said Miami-Wade County, a take-off on Dade County, Miami’s home. This is not a t-shirt you wear YOURSELF; you leave it to all those people-worshippers who pour their money out to sustain money-producing machines like the NBA. But there he was, wearing this “worship me” shirt on national television, completely unaware that there might be an issue in doing so.

This might make Miami the perfect fit for James. Certainly, Shaquille O’Neal found his last professional relevance there, in a place where he was as famous for his house as for anything he did on the court. What better place than South Beach to operate as a stratosphere of stars who really enjoy looking in the mirror?

Since Miami is also planning to sign Toronto Raptors star forward Chris Bosh, they will have to trade Michael Beasley, one of their two remaining players, and the only one making any real money. That will mean, under NBA salary cap rules, that Miami will have to sign eleven other players to minimum contracts. It will be a roster of misfits, used-to-be’s and never-wases, and they will probably win two or three NBA titles. Bring back Stephon Marbury and Latrell Sprewell! They will carry the water, literally, for the three stars. Start working on your jump shot, because you are a candidate. And you can’t wipe the smile off NBA commissioner David Stern’s face.

Because he knows that self-serving sells tickets. It also sells business deals, and gets you CEO jobs and key government appointments. This is, unfortunately, because we are a nation of people worshippers—politicians and corporate leaders as much as athletes. We tune in to await the latest wisdom and to validate ourselves in identifying with them. Nothing can deter us—lying executives, politicians without consciences, athletes in every sport from baseball to cycling using performance enhancing drugs. Because performance is all that matters—not character, not conscience, not substance.

And tonight, America will tune in for the latest performance.

Categories: Bottom Line Ethics


In mid-May, I had the honor of congratulating more than 1,100 new graduates of our programs, the culmination of their years of hard and outstanding work. A few days later, we began welcoming the Class of ’14 as we launched the first of 13 new student conferences for our newest Aggies and their parents. The excitement of seeing the smiles on the faces of our graduates as they launch their careers and our newest Aggies as they begin their studies reminds me why this is my favorite time of the year.

Then, the economic downturn that has affected many universities around the country came to Texas A&M. Like all public universities and agencies, the Legislative Budget Board has directed us to plan for a significant potential budget cut that would take effect September 2011. While the university will announce its final plans to meet the budget reductions next month, we will not know with certainty what will need to be implemented until the Texas Legislature passes the final state budget, which will likely occur in late spring 2011.

If these planned cuts become reality, very difficult choices will be made, both at Texas A&M and at Mays. It would be an easier task if Mays had underperforming programs or unnecessary frills. We do not. Mays is a lean organization, it will not be easy, and our faculty, staff, and students will be impacted.

How will this affect us if these cuts are implemented? Our focus must be on minimizing the impact on the educational experience of our students and the research of our faculty and I assure you we will do the best we can. As I met with my colleagues last week to discuss this, it became clear to me that their dedication and passion for our students will make a difficult situation a bit easier for us to handle. I truly feel blessed to be surrounded by such individuals.

Categories: Deanspeak

Fear and excitement battle within his chest as he waves to the crowd and reaches for the microphone. This moment is his dream come true. A dream he’s dreamed for years: his first stand-up performance. HIs wife and four friends cheer him on. Their attendance is part of the reason this day has arrived. It’s a “bringer” show—he had to bring five paying customers who will meet the two-drink minimum to pay for his chance for a few minutes at the mic.

He starts strong. “In the fall of ’85 I went to Harvard. (pause) And stayed most of the afternoon. I bought that shirt that says ‘Harvard Lacrosse’ so I could misrepresent both my intellect and athletic capability.” People laugh. Yes! Their response loosens him up a bit. Too soon. He bombs.

“The first time I performed was at a club called Stand-Up New York, on Broadway. I had a five-minute set. I got maybe two-and-a-half minutes into it when I completely forgot where I was. I was too green to know that you need to have a set list—you write down “the wife, the parachute, and your father’—the key words for the story you’re going to tell, instead of trying to memorize the set like I did. I stuttered a bit, then started improvising with the audience, and then I figured out where I was and finished up. My wife felt so bad for me. I’ve had jokes bomb but that, for sure, was my biggest failure.”

Abysmal? Perhaps. Still, the adrenaline surge from being on stage drove him on. There was no giving up.

• • • • •

Tim had always been funny, but it wasn’t until 1998 that he took a leap of faith to do it for a living. He felt a calling. “There was a moment of realization that I needed to pursue comedy. I needed to quit being afraid of it.” His day job was as vice president at Interpublic Group, a global marketing firm. He enrolled in an improv comedy class taught by comedienne and actress Amy Poehler (of Saturday Night Live) to hone his comedic chops.

“There was a moment of realization that I needed to pursue comedy.” said Tim Washer ’89. “I needed to quit being afraid of it.”

“The first day I came very close to running out of the class,” he reminisces when recalling the introductory exercise, “hotbox.” A word is provided, and the would-be comic creates a song about that word on the spot. “I was on stage with 10 strangers. It scared the heck out of me…Once I got past my fear of that class, it got a lot easier.”

What was it like working with someone as famously funny as Poehler? “Amy is a very encouraging person and a great teacher.” She was intimidating at first, though. “She’s so incredibly funny as an improviser. She’s obviously very funny on T.V., but I think she’s even funnier as an improviser.”

Sticking in that class led to more of the stuff of dreams. Tim performed with Poehler on the Comedy Central series Upright Citizens Brigade and went on to appear regularly on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He submitted material for The Late Show with David Letterman, celebrating when his jokes made their way into the opening monologue. He starred in the commercial “Filibuster” for Cablevision, winning a best in class award from the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

Three years from that wobbly start at the bringer show, he quit his day job to focus on his comedy career and an idea he had for a screenplay. Fear and excitement battled again. Fear won for a while. Tim struggled with depression, filled with anxiety about his work. Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, the life of a comedian is no laughing matter.

“I learned pretty quickly that working the New York City clubs wasn’t going to pay the bills and wasn’t the best use of my time. Even an experienced comic typically only makes a hundred bucks a night unless he is a celebrity. It’s a rotten life and it doesn’t pay any money. When I was performing with a lot of other new comics, my wife wasn’t enjoying it as they often rely on sex and profanity for laughs. I’ve always worked clean. I quit doing the clubs.”

Finding out he was going to be a father motivated Tim to look for a better paycheck and more security than fickle audiences could provide. He had an MBA, experience in sales and technology, and a desperate need for an outlet for humor. A career coach redirected him to event hosting and speech writing.

Tim took a job as a speechwriter for IBM but he felt like a failure that first day on the job. This time fear was of long, dreary days not using his real talents. Was this giving up? Had he copped out? He did go back the second day at IBM and he’s glad he did. Day two on the job, he answered the phone and heard a VP say, “I heard you’re funny. Can you write a joke for me?”

“In comedy, you get immediate feedback. If you tell a joke and nobody laughs, you know right away that you’ve failed. You’ve got to be ready for that. But how you judge failure is important.”

“Here I am on at IBM thinking I may have to give up on comedy when a door opens for me to be funny at IBM…that’s how my job evolved.” While learning the ropes and pushing for more humor at IBM, he also built a side career, emceeing events evenings and weekends. He’s hosted a range of events honoring the rich and famous, from George H.W. Bush to Oscar winners, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He also starred in a few more commercials, for T-Mobile and Budweiser, plus two segments on The Onion Sports Network.

What’s been his favorite gig? Working with Catherine Zeta-Jones on the T-Mobile commercial (he’s the guy with the line “I like it when you say things.”), and the bits for The Onion, where he did a mock-doping piece about genie-use in professional baseball (“Until we have hard evidence that Overstreet knowingly benefitted from a wish granting phantasm, he’s an innocent man.”).

While at IBM, he wrote, produced and starred in a series of films called Art of the Sale. Originally intended for in-house use, this set of six short clips went viral (it’s worth your time to watch it on YouTube). It was selected by the cable channel Comedy Central as a “Staff Favorite” and was cited in in January 2007 as the example of the “Jon Stewartizing” of corporate communications.

Today he is the senior manager of social media at technology firm Cisco Systems, where he’s using comedy to reach out to wider audiences.

“As we move into an environment where social media is more mainstream, there is going to be much more humor in corporate communications. You can reach out to a technical audience with a very specific message, and that’s part of what we do. Some of our large service providers are interested in the geeky details about a router. But if we want to reach a broader audience, it certainly helps your message if it’s entertaining.”

Tim predicts there will be more jobs like his in the future, as social media revolutionizes company interactions with clients and as customers come to expect a certain amount of entertainment. Large corporations are realizing the need to stand out in the social media landscape.

He warns other funny people that there is a danger in letting your true colors show at work. A professor once told him with grave earnestness, “no one will take you seriously in the office once you start telling jokes.” Tim agrees, to a degree. People do label you as “the funny guy.” Yet, as his ambition is not the corner office, he doesn’t care much. His dream job? Writing for Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart. In the meantime, he’s satisfied with pursuing comedy outside of the confines of traditional venues.

In his spare time, he now performs customized sets at corporate events such as sales meetings and professional conferences. He’s still tinkering with his screenplay (the details of which are hilarious—and confidential until it’s purchased), and beginning a series of podcasts where he’ll interview influential people in entertainment. He’s also using his comedic gifts in church and at church conferences.

I asked him to tell me the secret of to how he’s overcome his fears to pursue his dreams. He said he’d get back to me someday when he figured that out.

“Fear is always with you. I think it’s a constant struggle. As you gain experience over time, you get a little better at suppressing the fear. I imagine many artists in all fields struggle with this…In comedy, you get immediate feedback. If you tell a joke and nobody laughs, you know right away that you’ve failed. You’ve got to be ready for that. But how you judge failure is important. For me, even when the audience doesn’t laugh, I know that I am doing what I am called to do. That’s what counts. All I can do is obediently follow the path that is before me.”

For more on Tim Washer, including contact information, visit his website at

Categories: Featured Stories, Former Students

Before you schedule that employment interview, consider this: research suggests that there are many subtle cues in an interview that indicate whether the job seeker will be successful—both in landing the position, and in doing the work. Understanding what those cues are is important, no matter which side of the desk you sit on.

Murray Barrick

Murray Barrick, management department head and Paul M. and Rosalie Robertson Chair in Business, has been studying elements of the interview process for years and has advice to offer job seekers and hiring managers.

The Job Seeker: Confidence is Key

Your dream job is available, but first you’ve got to prove you’re the best candidate for the job. This nerve-jangling process is reminiscent of a first date—both parties reveal certain information while evaluating the other, examining the potential of an alliance—and as much as you’d like to think it’s all about personality and experience, you know that appearance matters.

You’ve polished your résumé and your shoes, practiced your answers and your winning smile. You’re ready for…

The interview

There are three important sections of an interview, which determine your success. Controlling for different factors, Barrick has examined the impact of each of these areas and his research suggests that those who perform the highest in them receive employment offers.

1. The information

You have to actually know what you’re talking about. This is a no-brainer. You must have satisfactory answers to the job-related questions you’ll be asked.

Self-promotion is okay in a job interview. “If you don’t self-promote, people will assume that you are socially incompetent,” says Barrick.

However, if you’re lacking in the specific skills and experience necessary for the job, you can make up for it by emphasizing conscientiousness and emotional stability. Conscientiousness includes being dependable, hard working, and achievement-oriented. Emotional stability involves how able you are to manage stress, and is also related to confidence. Those that are low in self-confidence tend to also be less emotionally stable—and this is a predictor of poor performance and turnover.

2. Image management

You’ve got to look good, and that goes beyond the chic haircut and power suit. An important element of your professional image is confidence, self-promotion, or “what we typically call bragging,” says Barrick. It’s a fine line, though. You don’t want to come off as conceited, but you do want to talk yourself up. If you don’t, no one else in the interview will.

“It’s socially expected in this setting. If you don’t self-promote, people will assume that you are socially incompetent.”

You may have heard the saying “Nobody likes a suck up.” Well, that’s not entirely true. Barrick suggests that an appropriate amount of ingratiation is also a cue to hiring managers that you are socially competent—that you understand the expectations of the context, and can “play the game” of professional interaction well.

3. Body language

What you’re saying without words is as important as your answers to all those probing questions. Through body language, you must convey two things: confidence and enthusiasm. Leaning forward slightly is a subtle cue that you are interested in the position and may make a more enthusiastic employee. Good eye contact does the same. And the gold standard…

The handshake

Barrick and colleagues rated five elements of the handshake of candidates in mock interviews. They found that if a candidate’s handshake rated higher on grip, vigor, duration, temperature, and eye contact during the transaction, he or she was also more likely to be rated highly in other areas of the interview.

First impressions are vital, as your information, image, and body language is quickly assessed and those judgments color the rest of the interview. How quickly? Barrick says the success of the interview is often decided in the first three to four minutes. If that seems unfair, note that the manager’s first impressions of the candidate may reasonably be linked to performance, as it may indicate how that person will interact with colleagues and customers. If the hiring manager finds the candidate likeable, others may, too.

The bottom line? The interview is a conversation between two strangers. The interviewer is relying on you to provide the information they need to make a decision about your hire. So if you are the best candidate, make sure you demonstrate that to the interviewer clearly and confidently.

The Hiring Manager: Hire smarts

Want to hire the best candidate? Then don’t worry so much about their skills and experience, pay attention to their general intelligence and personality (emotional stability, openness, dependability). These traits are vital in most any position, and they tend to be fixed—there is little you can do to train an employee to be smarter or easier to get along with.

When it comes right down to it, an interview isn’t the best method of gauging those essential elements, says Barrick, who recommends a formal survey to test for these, such as the Personal Characteristics Inventory®. Co-created by Barrick, this survey links the big five personality traits to job performance in many categories. Personality traits can be identified with a high degree of accuracy, as they do predict job performance, it makes sense to test for them.

Testing for intelligence, however, can be complicated, as certain populations tend to score higher on IQ tests. Employers may fear being branded as discriminatory if they are perceived to be using these tests to exclude minorities. There is a moderate relationship with interview success and intelligence, says Barrick, which suggests that interviewers are already pretty good at picking out the candidates with smarts (or that smarter folks perform better in interviews). Even if you’re not formally assessing it, being aware of the importance of intelligence in a candidate will help you detect it.

Barrick reports that as many as 20 percent of American companies (such as McDonald’s) are using personality surveys to screen applicants. The survey is usually sandwiched between a prescreening interview and a final interview. Often its function is identifying which individuals will be most conscientious and emotionally stable—two key indicators of overall performance.

While there are better selection tools available to assess many of the things we measure in an interview, the process is not going away in the American marketplace. “It’s a cultural expectation that before I hire you I’m going to meet you and talk to you, look you in the eyes and see what I think of you as a person, draw some conclusions about your character as a whole,” says Barrick.

“You can’t change somebody’s personality. That’s what therapy is about. You can’t increase intelligence without a lot of effort. That’s what a four-year degree is for.”
—Murray Barrick, Paul M. and Rosalie Robertson Chair in Business

Often managers try to do too much in a 30-minute interview. In your next interview, focus on the essentials and measure those explicitly: intelligence, personality, and job skills. Managers typically rate these areas subconsciously, but making the rating explicit will clarify the process and make the interview more predictive of success.

Interviews are most useful for determining one thing: fit—that intangible, hard-to-define element that suggests an employee will be successful in the framework of the company culture. Most people can’t tell you exactly what fit is, says Barrick, but when you ask practitioners, they all agree that it is important.

How to measure whether or not a person is right for your company? There’s no questionnaire for that one. You’ll have to go with your gut.

Works cited

Information for this article came from research in a variety of Barrick’s papers. You can find links to many of these articles and other research from Barrick on his personal website at

  • Barrick, M. R., Shaffer, J. A., & DeGrassi, S. W. (2009). What You See May Not Be What You Get: A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Self-Presentation Tactics and Ratings of Interview and Job Performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1394-1411
  • Stewart, G. L., Darnold, T., Barrick, M. R., & Dustin, S. D. (2008). Exploring the Handshake in Employment Interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1139-1146.
  • Barrick, M. R., & Zimmerman, R. D. (2005). Reducing Voluntary, Avoidable Turnover through Selection. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 159-166.
  • Kristof-Brown, A., Barrick, M. R., Stevens, C. K. (2005). When Opposites Attract: A Multi-Sample Demonstration of Complementary Person-Team Fit on Extraversion. Journal of Personality, 73, 935-957.
  • Kristof-Brown, A. Barrick, M. R., & Franke, M. (2002). Applicant Impression Management: Dispositional Influences and Consequences for Recruiter Perceptions of Fit and Similarity. Journal of Management, 28, 27-46.
  • Witt, L. A., Burke, L. A., Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (2002). The Interactive Effects of Conscientiousness and Agreeableness on Job Performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 164-169.
  • Barrick, M. R., Patton, G. K. & Haugland, S. N. (2000). Accuracy of Interviewer Judgments of Job Applicant Personality Traits. Personnel Psychology, 53, 925-954.
  • Judge, T. J., Higgins, C. A., Thoresen, C. J.,& Barrick, M. R (1999). The Big Five personality traits, general mental ability, and career success across the life span. Personnel Psychology, 52, 621-652.
  • Dunn, W., Mount, M. K., Barrick, M. R., & Ones, D. S. (1995). The Big Five personality dimensions, general mental ability and perceptions of employment suitability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 500-509.

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