Go with your gut: Emotion and evaluation in job interviews

Lauren A. Rivera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


This article presents hiring as an emotional process rooted in interpersonal evaluation. Drawing from Randall Collins’s theory of interaction ritual, the author offers a qualitative case study of elite professional service firms to unpack how employers’ emotional reactions to applicants in job interviews affect hiring evaluations. She finds that employers use subjective feelings of excitement and enthusiasm toward candidates—akin to Collins’s concept of emotional energy—to evaluate applicants and make hiring decisions. With these data, she constructs an original theoretical framework of emotional energy development, which highlights the qualities that tend to produce or inhibit the subjective experience of emotional energy in job interviews. Additionally, she outlines the particular phases of an encounterwhere energy gains and losses are most consequential for influencing hiring outcomes and inequalities. She discusses the implications of these findings for research on hiring, labor market stratification, and interaction rituals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1339-1389
Number of pages51
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 27 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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