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New study shows that humblebragging might help you get a job

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Gary Ogden
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“Oh my God, can’t believe I bumped into someone on the street and they dropped the book I WROTE. So embarrassing.”

“I just wanted the ground to swallow me up today. I was collecting my Nobel Peace Prize and my trousers fell down! FML!”

“I shat and pissed myself today! AWKWARD! Luckily I’m CEO of one of the largest petroleum companies in the entire world, so it’s not all bad!”

“I died today at work – not ideal! Thankfully I gave hundreds of thousands of pounds to charity during my life so will definitely be getting into Heaven. Phew!”

You know the humblebrag – it’s a sneaky, underhanded way of bragging hard, but disguising the boasting by framing it with something self-deprecating. It’s annoying and people that do it are also annoying. If you’re going to boast, just boast. Do it with a wink and nobody will care; do it without one and nobody will care either (probably).

However, frustrating research that comes from a study conducted at the University of Economics in Prague shows that it might actually sort of work. Providing you only really use it in job interviews, anyway. The study involved grabbing a load of college students and subjecting them to a number of typical job interview questions.

When asked everyone’s favourite question: “What’s your biggest weakness?” their answers were analysed. Out of 91 candidates, 26 humblebragged in their answers – which really, they should have; it’s a job interview, so you want to spin a negative question into a positive answer. You know: “I think I work too hard” or “I’m too good-looking and it distracts all the female employees” or “MONEY LITERALLY SPRAYS OUT OF MY EARS TWO HUNDRED TIMES A DAY”.

The second part of the study involved showing those answers to more volunteers, and asking whether the applicants would be a good fit for “the job”. Here’s what the researchers said:

“We... observed a negative effect of humblebragging on perceived sincerity, likeability, and trustworthiness. However, there were positive effects of humblebragging on competence, dependability, and flexibility.”

So, it sort of pays off? Well, as with many a great, time-consuming study, the end result actually appears to have been a tad moot. The researchers wrote:

“Possibly because of the mutual elimination of these opposing forces, humblebragging led to neither more, nor less positive overall evaluation of a candidate’s suitability for the job.”

Basically, you can do it if you want – your potential employer will trust in your core strengths and competence, but they’ll probably think you’re a bit of a dick. Thing is, you can afford to be a bit of a dick if you’re good at your job, really, can’t you? Being a dick and also being terrible at your job – now that’s where the problems begin.

Anyway, I’ve got to head off now – have to go and pay back my local gym hundreds of pounds for breaking all their machines because I’m too strong. SO ANNOYING!!!!!!

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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