The surprising number of people that think they got a job based on attractiveness

Photo: UlyssesThirtyOne via Flickr

Our appearance has an enormous impact on our hirability. This becomes especially apparent during the interview process,  which may be why so many applicants dread it so much.

A new JPD survey of nearly 2,000 respondents provides a sobering insight into the fears and considerations expressed by young job hunters. Not surprisingly, attractiveness proved to be a chief concern.

Casual business

JPD interviewed 1,997 candidates on all the physical and mental ways they prepared for a job interview in 2019. The survey was conducted from November 15th to November 18th and respondents ranged between the ages of 18 and 70.

Eighty-six percent of the participants surveyed said that appearing physically attractive is a top priority of theirs during the entire hiring process.

More than half (54%) believe that they have lost out on career opportunities because of some aspect of their appearance. Conversely, 64% are sure that they have received career opportunities for the very same reason.

On average both groups have dedicated more than an hour laboring over an outfit to impress their would-be employers the day before their correspondence.

The top appearance worries for women were:

  • Weight (25%
  • Clothing (18%)
  • Too little makeup (16%)
  • Looking too sexual (12%)
  • Frumpiness (9%)

Most of these anxieties were also expressed by men just prioritized differently:

  • Clothing (38%)
  • Weight (24%)
  • Frumpiness (11%)
  • Looking too sexual (9%)
  • Looking too masculine (8%)

Work flirt

One in five respondents has been flirted with during a job interview. Fifty-eight percent of women flirted back compared to 71% of the male respondents that reported doing the same. Thirty-six percent of the candidates surveyed said they were even asked about their relationship status by a recruiter.

“While making a candidate feel comfortable is not an interviewer’s primary responsibility, keeping the conversation and questions appropriate is,” the authors behind the new report write. “More shocking, we found that many interviewers bring up topics deemed illegal: 37% of women say they’ve been asked about their plans for children, compared to 27% of men. Children are a sensitive topic, especially for women, half of whom fear such a life event would impact others’ views on their productivity.”

One in three respondents felt uncomfortable discussing any aspect of their personal life during a job interview, though more men raised this concern than women (71% vs. 57%.) The results suggest that some employers keep two sets of books as far as ethics are concerned.

Consistently, women were asked more “inappropriate” questions during job interviews than male applicants.

Some of the candidates anticipated these kinds of breaches. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed have made their social media account private in order to circumvent potential awkward interview moments and an additional 33% just simply lie when intimate parts of their personal life come up.

Eighty-percent of all the candidates interviewed are more concerned with appearing competent more than appearing likable though the disparity is more dramatic among men. Fifty-eight percent of women privileged competence compared to 69% of men.

“Regardless of age, gender, or experience, one of the most taxing elements of the job hunt is the interview process,” the authors wrote. “While much of what we learned confirms long-held beliefs, especially in gender dynamics, other statistics show more parity than ever.”

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