As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

How to Not Get Hired: Drink or Hold Alcohol

This article was written by in Career and Work, Featured. 17 comments.

My job interview for my current corporate position included, for some reason, discussion of visiting bars on the Jersey shore to listen to mediocre cover bands. While in my future manager’s office, we were not actually drinking. It’s a good thing there was no alcohol during the interview, because rather than winning the job, if we had alcohol it’s less likely I would have been hired.

That’s the conclusion of a recent study conducted by University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. According to the research, drinking alcohol during an interview triggers an “imbibing idiot bias.” Even if the interviewer offers the drink, and even if the interviewer is also drinking, the job candidate who drinks alcohol is less likely to receive the job offer.

The study goes even further. Just holding an alcoholic drink is enough to significantly reduce the probability of receiving an offer.

They found that job candidates who ordered alcohol in simulated interviews were perceived as less intelligent and less hireable — though no less likeable, honest or genuine — than those who did not, regardless of whether the boss ordered an alcoholic beverage first.

Moreover, even if the boss ordered the drink for the job candidate (i.e., the candidate did not choose to drink), the result was the same. This suggests that the imbibing idiot bias does not reflect a belief that less intelligent people are more likely to consume alcohol, but rather an implicit association between alcohol and cognitive impairment.

It may be true that the real business often takes place after hours at the local bar. Being in a social environment with the people you work with can be beneficial for networking and advancement. However, if you are interested in managing others’ perception of your intelligence, the study suggests staying away from — not just avoid drinking — wine, beer, and other alcohol while in the presence of others.

Have you ever participated in a job interview over a drink?

Read the study or the news release.

Updated April 13, 2016 and originally published August 12, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Tom Dziubek

So you’re saying I *shouldn’t* be wearing a beer helmet to my job interviews? This changes everything.

Reply to this comment

avatar Reasonable

But what if it was for a Beer Helmet Factory job?

Reply to this comment

avatar MS

Did the study make any distinction between different types of alcohol. I could see wine and classier liquors (Scotch, etc.) creating a different perception than beer and shooters. (I’m a beer guy myself)

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes

That’s a good question. The study did look at different typesbof drinks, like wine, beer and soda. The effect was the same for wine and beer ans there was no effect with soda.

Reply to this comment

avatar Not Drinking

What if you’re holding a simulated alcoholic drink?

Reply to this comment

avatar The Biz of Life

Unless you are apply for a job as a master brewer, it’s probably not the best idea in the world to have a beer in hand.

Reply to this comment

avatar Mysti

No, I have never participated in an interview that was over drinks. But at work a few months ago, we had a random woman call to ask us if her son’s urine would test positive for alcohol when he went in for his drug screen if he went drinking the night before! (Our company works with kids….no idea why she thought we would know the answer).

Reply to this comment

avatar Greg McFarlane

So wait a second…you’re telling me there’s at least one negative to drinking alcohol?

Reply to this comment

avatar Anonymous

This is the opposite of what you might think would happen. Seems like have a drink together would be some kind of a bonding experience. It’s got to be very unusual for this to happen during most interview processes anyway, though.

Reply to this comment

avatar Car Negotiation Coach

Back in my school days I used to coordinate companies coming to town to interview. And many times we went out for drinks. If I didn’t have an interview setup personally, this would always help me get one. And if I already had an interview, this often helped close the deal. Sometimes a little alcohol can help the getting to know you process and also show that you will have the ability to socialize with clients later on.

Reply to this comment

avatar Phil

Many years ago we had a young man come in to interview for a laboring job. When he left, he forgot to take his glasses case with him

… which was holding his pot and smoking paraphenalia.

He didn’t get hired.

Reply to this comment

avatar Financial Samurai

I gotta say, research have TOO MUCH TIME on their hands! lol.

I’ve never interviewed a candidate over a drink, although I have taken out an employee after they’ve got hired for a drink.

The researchers might as well research whether one has a better chance of getting a job if they have a picture of the interviewers spouse naked or not!



Reply to this comment

avatar Dr Dean

It just confirms that human behavior can be unpredictable, and unfair, on the surface. I would suspect you could find similar studies for hair length, tattoos, whether the job candidate was “good looking”, or any other superficial appearance/social norm.

In this climate of high unemployment, whatever edge it takes, to improve your chances of being a successful candidate is probably worth the effort!

Reply to this comment

avatar Bucksome

I have never had an interview with drinks, but have always thought that in this situation you follow the lead of the senior person. Interesting that it isn’t true.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes
avatar SustainableLifeBlog

I’ve never had a job interview where alcohol was offered or drank, but I thought the same as bucksome…I just figured if the interviewer was doing it, it was alright if you did as well, but not required.

Reply to this comment

avatar Chris Romp

My most recent job interview took place at the office at first, and moved to a nearby bar with the VP. I got hired.

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.