Candidate characteristics driving initial impressions during rapport building: Implications for employment interview validity


  • Susan L. Dustin and Tamara L. Giluk contributed equally.

Murray Barrick, Department of Management, Texas A & M University, 420C Wehner Building, College Station, TX 77843–4221, United States (e-mail:


We examine the antecedents impacting interviewers’ initial impressions of candidates formed during the rapport-building stage of the interview and subsequent evaluations of answers to highly structured interview questions. Ratings for 130 mock interview candidates reveal a strong relationship between interviewers’ initial impression of the candidate and their evaluations of candidate responses to structured questions. These initial impressions correspond with candidate extraversion and verbal skill, controlling for job qualifications. Interviewers’ initial impressions mediate the effect of candidate characteristics, relevant for some jobs more so than others, on later evaluations. Thus, initial impressions formed during rapport building appear to influence subsequent evaluations whether they are clearly job-relevant or not. These findings have important implications for the validity of structured interviews.