Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics, Applied

First Advisor

Christian W. Chun

Second Advisor

Kimberly B. Urbanski

Third Advisor

Panayota Gounari


Behavioral interviewing has become a popular technique used across fields to assess the fitness of job seekers (Roulin & Bangerter, 2012; Powers, 2000). This particular style of interviewing calls on the interviewee to narrate their prior experiences in the workforce, with the idea that past behavior on the job is prelude to future job performance. The answers (stories) follow a specific format in order to be considered successful, one that adheres to the style and organization of the dominant Discourse (Gee, 1989). However, storytelling is a culturally situated practice and candidates from diverse backgrounds may construct their narratives outside of the format favored by employers. The purpose of this research is to examine the ways in which individuals with different socioeconomic, linguistic, racial and ethnic backgrounds construct narratives while answering job interview questions. Posing interview questions to job candidates who are currently receiving workforce development training to prepare for interviews as well as talent recruiters for job placement firms who interview job seekers for placement purposes allowed for comparison between narrative structure and content of different socioeconomic, linguistic, racial and ethnic groups: those who are currently studying to acquire credentials and become apprenticed in the dominant Discourse and those who work in talent management and recruitment and are fully conversant in the dominant Discourse. Analysis of the format and content of interviews from the two distinct groups showed marked differences in both format and content between interviews that exemplified the favored dominant Discourse and those that represented a variety of different Discourses. This leads to the conclusion that behavioral interviewing may hamper efforts to diversify the workforce, if candidates with different socioeconomic, linguistic, racial and ethnic backgrounds are being excluded from jobs based on the way they narrate responses to behavioral interview questions.