I am king (cocky businessman)

Hiring managers beware: men more likely to brag to get the job

Christina Bruce|

Turns out that the overconfidence of men might actually be doing them a favour—at least in the business world.

A recent study from the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found that women in business are more likely to rate themselves lower in performance reviews, and men are more likely to feel overconfident about their abilities. This overconfidence translates into boasting, bragging, and selling themselves, hence having an effect on hiring patterns.

So the natural male urge to show off is actually quite useful for climbing the corporate ladder.

Canadian boardrooms are still predominantly male, despite women making up about 49% of the workforce. A 2011 figure from Deloitte listed the percentage of women serving on Canadian corporate boards at about 12.5%. Apparently the proportion between men and women holding senior management positions actually hasn’t changed much since 1987. (Seriously?)

I don’t think there is one single factor that can account for this. Yes, I am well aware of the gender gap and the numbers to support it—but I found this study to have some interesting observations.

The researchers tested 134 MBA students with a series of math problems, and then asked them to recall their performance a year later. It turns out that men rated their past performance as 30% higher than reality, where women gave more modest reviews and rated themselves as 15% higher—even though both sides had scored equally. Bottom line? We all exaggerate, but men do it more.

The study group was then asked to choose a leader to represent the group in exchange for a cash incentive. As the women were less likely to boast about their accomplishments during the selection process, they were chosen to lead 33% less of the time than men.

So what does this mean? Although this is a small sample, hiring managers are inclined to take what someone says during an interview at face value—thus favouring those who actively boast about their accomplishments. And isn’t selling yourself exactly what job interviews are for? I like seeing someone confident in their abilities, willing to boast about what they can do.

What do you think? Are women more inclined to downplay their accomplishments? Would you expect men to be overconfident?

Category: Industry News & Insights, Recruitment Challenges,