Do Looks Matter During Job Interviews?

Folks from the Human Resources (HR) department will never admit that they are influenced by facial features while hiring candidates. However, scientific studies conducted by researchers clearly indicate that facial features have a major role to play in the outcome of job interviews. HR folks may deny this because it happens at the sub-conscious level. The interviewer may not be consciously aware that they are discriminating, but it occurs nonetheless. The denial may also be because of the fact that companies may be sued if they admit that they are influenced by facial features during job interviews.

Findings of the research study

The study was conducted by researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston. The research study was titled – “Discrimination Against Facially Stigmatized Applicants in Interviews: An Eye-Tracking and Face-to-Face Investigation”. The findings of the research study have been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The research involved two different studies, each of which tried to ascertain if looks matter during job interviews.

In the first study, 171 undergraduate students were asked to watch a computer-mediated interview. Researchers recorded the eye activity of the studentsthrough specialized devices. Later, the students were asked to recall what they remembered about the candidate. The data collected clearly showed that students were distracted by facial features. The students were distracted by abnormal facial features and due to this they were not able to properly comprehend what the candidate was saying. Since the students had limited recall of what the candidate said in the interview, they naturally rated them below their qualifications, skills and experience.

In the second study, face-to-face interviews were conducted involving people with abnormal facial features. The interviews were conducted by full-time managers, who had good experience in conducting interviews. Here also, the results were quite the same as the first study. Even though the interviewers were experienced in carrying out interviews, they were distracted by people who had abnormal facial features. They had less recall of what the candidates said, which prompted them to give the candidates less marks during the interview.

The researchers used the findings of the study to appeal to organizations that this aspect of discrimination should be looked into more seriously. They said that it may be occurring on the sub-conscious level, which implies that people with below average looks may be at a disadvantage during job interviews.

How the research is important for you?

Considering that facial features can impact the outcome of job interviews, it is recommended that you groom yourself properly before attending any interview. Make sure you look good and wear the right clothes for the interview. Anything abnormal is bound to distract the interviewer and they may not be able to fully comprehend what you are saying. Looks matter during job interviews, so you have got to make it work in that manner.

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