Striving for Self-Verification during Organizational Entry

Topic: New Employees and Organizational Entry

Author(s), Title and Publication

Cable, D. M., & Kay, V. S. (2012). Striving for self-verification during organizational entry. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), 360-380.


This project used two studies to examine how job applicants’ self-verification striving affects the organizational entry process. “Self-verification striving” means giving an accurate portrayal of one’s self to others by communicating both capabilities and limitations. Swann’s (1983) self-verification theory posits that people want to be known and understood by others by presenting themselves in a way that they believe is honest and realistic when they form long-term relationships.

Study 1 tested whether applicants’ self-verification striving helps interviewers evaluate the applicants’ future performance, and helps the applicants find the jobs they are satisfied with. Data were collected from MBA students in the United States. The authors 1) obtained the interviewer evaluations for the MBA applicants from admissions office records, 2) surveyed and assessed the students’ self-verification striving when they joined the program, 3) obtained their grades when they graduated from the program (n = 254 students for 1, 2, and 3), and 4) surveyed their job search success, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment when they joined their full-time employers (n = 146 students). Results showed that interviewers could better predict an applicant’s future success when the applicant’s self-verification striving is high. The results also showed that an applicant who places higher value on presenting truthful self is more likely to be satisfied with the job and be committed to the employer. But self-verification striving does not affect applications’ job search success significantly.

Study 2 tested the effects of individuals’ self-verification striving on their job performance with other job performance related predictors controlled (i.e., self-monitoring, self-disclosure, and self-evaluations). Data were collected from a group of international job seekers who sent their application materials to a clearinghouse that matches international teachers to school districts in the United States. The authors 1) acquired the applicants’ background data from the clearinghouse, 2) surveyed the applicants’ self-verification striving, self-disclosure, self-monitoring, and self-evaluations (n = 2,419 applicants), 3) surveyed self-verification of the applicants who received a teaching position (n = 236 teachers), and 4) surveyed the teachers’ principals for the teachers’ job performance and citizenship behaviors nine months later (n = 280 principals). Results revealed that after controlling other predictors (e.g., self-monitoring etc.), self-verification striving still significantly predicts one’s job performance and citizenship behaviors. Study 2 again confirmed that self-verification striving does not hurt applicants’ ability to get job offers.

Implications for Practice

Organizations may want to explicitly encourage job applicants and newcomers to act authentically during the organizational entry process because letting others know who they really are may not hurt their job search success but rather improve their job performance and increase job satisfaction in the future.

Location of Article

The article is available online at:

1) (abstract free, purchase full article)

2) (full-text)

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