Nab that top-paying job by showing you can be mates with the boss

Want to land a top paying job in an elite company? Then prove you could be a playmate with the boss.

A new study has found that simply being the best qualified candidate may not be enough to get you a job with a collection of the world’s most elite investment banks, law practices and consulting firms.

With bosses at these elite American firms able to select new staff from a vast array of candidates, they will often choose somebody they would like to form a friendship with.

More often than not, these top bosses wanted to hire staff and become friends with people similar to themselves, the research by Lauren Rivera from Northwestern University’s school of management found.
''Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences and self-presentation styles,'' the research, published in December in the American Sociological Review, found.

The research, conducted over 3 years, was an investigation into how a shared culture between job candidates and employers influenced the hiring process within leading companies.

To complete the research, Professor Rivera conducted some 120 detailed interviews with hiring managers at top-tier law, consulting and banking firms. These companies reimbursed employers remarkably well with entry level salaries at the law firms ranging from $US175,000 ($183,000) to $US330,000 ($346,000).

Rivera concluded that ''similarity was the most common mechanism employers used to assess applicants at the job interview stage''. In the course of her interviews, a law firm partner told her that the company was “looking for cultural compatibility. Someone who will fit in”.

The Professors findings were backed up with more than half of those interviewed rating a candidate’s ability to fit in culturally above analytical thinking and communication skills.

With employees in these top firms spending long hours working together on projects, hiring managers “reported wanting to hire individuals who would not only be competent colleagues, but also held the potential to be playmates or even friends,'' Rivera wrote.

''Whether someone rock climbs, plays the cello, or enjoys film noir may seem trivial to outsiders, but these leisure pursuits were crucial for assessing whether someone was a cultural fit.''

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