Sensing the Right Person. Finnish Recruitment Consultants and Outline of the Ideal Working Body in the Recruitment Interviews

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: Booth 66
Oral Presentation
Taina KINNUNEN , School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
Jaana PARVIAINEN , University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
The body’s aesthetic and emotional capital in the post-industrial working life has eagerly been examined in recent years (e.g. Hassard et al. 2000; McKie & Watson 2000; Wolkowitz 2006). The discussion has brought out the role of the bodily communication skills and the ability to brand oneself in the current labour market where the CV advantage has been displaced by the tyranny of the right person. Feminist scholars (e.g. Acker 1990; Bordo 1993; McDowell 2009) have already shown how different corporeal characteristics in terms of sex/gender become categorized as suitable or unsuitable to conduct different kinds of work tasks. However, we still know too little about how the ideal working body, i.e. representing the wanted personality, is concretely performed in recruitment processes.

The paper is based on the interviews of Finnish recruitment consultants. It illuminates their role in assessing and defining the ideal employee when their client companies have mandated them to choose and interview the proper candidates. The paper shows how the candidates should first convince the recruitment consultants in the interviews by stylized bodily performances and communication skills in order to get the job. Recruitment consultants use their own embodied knowledge in determining which candidates would “fit in” with different working teams and environments. In order to fill in their clients’ expectations, the consultants not only attempt to read the bodily performances of the employee candidates. In addition, due to the employment discrimination law, the consultants must be capable of interpreting the non-verbal hints of their clients concerning the ideal bodily features of the wanted employee. Theoretically, the paper draws on Marx’s notions of labour, Bourdieu’s (1984) conception of embodied capital and the phenomenological discussion of the lived body (e.g. Merleau-Ponty 1945).