Who’s Getting Hired – Beauty or the Beast?

Stop the press!!!! Hold the phones!!! You won’t believe what I am about to tell you. Attractive applicants get more opportunities to be interviewed and hired than their plain Jane competition. A shocking fact I know.

Of course this isn’t much of a mystery. Most of us already know this and there is plenty of research to prove it. Whether it is right, wrong, fair or unfair is not what this article is here to debate. Attractiveness plays a role when it comes to interviewing for a job and it is important that job applicants and hiring managers understand what this means to them.

First let’s look at a recent study that supports Beauty over the Beast.

Italian researchers at the University of Messina conducted a study to see just how obvious applicants with good looks were favoured over those who were lacking in the looks department. They sent out 11,000 resumes to over 1500 real jobs. Each job received 8 identical resumes: 4 resumes with photos of attractive and unattractive men and women, and 4 resumes without any photo. All resumes had identical skills. So who got called for an interview?

No surprise here. Attractive ladies and gentlemen had a callback rate of 54 and 47 percent respectively. On the other hand, the unattractive applicants did not do so well. Men had a call-back rate of 26% and women fared even worse with a call-back rate of just 7%. This is not good news for Joe average.

Clearly looks have an impact when getting hired or hiring someone. So what does this mean for job seekers and hiring managers?

Job Seekers:

How you present yourself definitely has an impact on potential employers. You don’t have to be Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson but employers do want to see that you have made an effort in preparing yourself for an interview. Grooming and dress attire are one of the first indicators employers have about you and your suitability. Remember you only get one shot at making at good first impression. Here are a few tips for you job seekers:

  1. Groom Yourself: Wash your face, brush your hair and teeth. Generally speaking clean yourself up. I know this sounds ridiculous that I even have to mention this but the amount of times I have had people show up for interviews and look like they have just stepped off a two week party bus is enough for me to mention the basics.
  2. Dress For the Job You Want: Don’t dress for the job you currently have, think about the job you are applying for. If the company or industry is casual or more formal in their dress attire then come to the interview dressed accordingly. If you have to spend some money on new clothes then do so. Show up for the interview dressed to impress.
  3. Don’t Make a Statement: Unless you know the job you are applying for embraces out of the norm individuality with funky clothing attire or crazy make-up, don’t use your interview to make a statement with your clothes or appearance. Let your personality and qualifications be the key ingredient to selling your suitability for the job.
  4. Never ever: Never ever chew gum, wear a hat or dress in ripped or disheveled clothes for an interview. The Never Ever list can be very long and I have seen applicants wear and present themselves in all sorts of crazy ways. The few mentioned are just the basics and when in doubt always err on the side of presenting yourself in a more conservative, professional manner.

Hiring Managers:

For those of us who have hired before I’m sure we can all relate to hiring someone who was easy on the eyes and turned out to be a nightmare of a hire. The cost of a bad hire can be devastating so here are a couple of tips to ensure you avoid hiring on looks alone and avoid the beauty bias:

  1. Be Aware: Be aware that it is natural to have a higher perception of someone’s skills and abilities based on them being attractive. Likewise it is also normal to discount an applicant who may not be overly attractive. This is not fair to either type of applicant. Be aware of these tendencies and focus on what the applicant is saying throughout the interview to properly assess their skills and abilities. Don’t let looks be the distraction of your assessment process.
  2. Follow an Interview Process: The best way to truly assess applicants in a fair manner is to establish a proper interview process. Establish a consistent set of interview questions that you wish to ask applicants before the interview. Ask each applicant the same set of questions. This allows you to properly assess each applicant based on a prescribed set of questions. Also conduct thorough references. This is super important in determining an applicant’s skills, abilities and attitudes with their previous employers.

Although looks play a role in the hiring process, both job applicants and hiring managers can minimize the attractiveness distraction. For job applicants dress for the job you want and for hiring managers follow a structured interview process. An employment relationship is a true partnership and as in all relationships it can’t be sustained on looks alone!

Happy Interviewing!

Clark Glassford
Founder of Five Interviews

PS if you liked this article, please share this blog with any of your co-workers, friends or family that could benefit from these recruitment tips to help them make exceptional hires.

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