By this point, we have all heard adages based on things around the job search. There are so many different experiences to be had when on the hunt for your next role — and unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t all positive.
Unfortunately, candidates are sometimes treated unfairly, with things like age or appearance-based discrimination in the workplace. While many companies are choosing to work with diversity managers on a more regular and more impactful basis, there are still systemic variations in income dependent on race, gender, age, etc. For example, did you know that the majority of women still feel discriminated against in the workplace?
And now, there is continually emerging proof that HR managers hire less attractive people for roles they deem unsatisfactory.
A breakdown of the study
That’s right. There is statistical proof coming forward — with more regularity — that hiring managers discriminate against attractive people when assessing candidates for lower-paying or historically more displeasing jobs.
A study done in 2017 by the London Business School (in conjunction with Singapore Management University and INSEAD) was featured multiple times in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
In this study, the researchers operated off of the assumption that attractive people would always be given the benefit of the doubt, resulting in being chosen more often for various career roles.
This belief was rooted in findings like the results of a 2013 study completed at the University of Messina that indicated “beautiful” people are called back for interviews more often than their less enticing counterparts. According to their findings, however, this was not always the case.
What did they find?
The team hosted four similar studies to complete their research project. In each study, they provided participants with headshots of various people, one objectively more attractive than the other.
The participants were, more or less, supposed to match the headshots to two job descriptions provided. The common theme — throughout all four study rounds — was that people continued to choose the more attractive candidate for the job deemed more appealing.
Taken together, these findings provide support for our theory that anticipated dissatisfaction with relatively less desirable jobs causes discrimination against attractive candidates.
These findings stand in contrast to conclusions of prior work proposing pro attractiveness bias operates in selection decisions… We note that there are common situations in which the expectation of bigger and better things for attractive individuals (with the corresponding inference that attractive individuals also feel entitled to such outcomes) may backfire and lead to discrimination against attractive job candidates.
The widespread notion that attractiveness will give you a leg up in all hiring situations was disproven, as these specific findings unveiled many people discriminating against attractive candidates for less admirable job positions. Additionally, the study found that most people who participated have the belief that good-looking people feel more entitled to – or capable of – more lucrative positions.
This may be from an elevated sense of confidence perpetuated by more regular compliments and positive feedback based on their looks. When asked about their decisions, many participants unveiled that they were based on common associations that good-looking people are hired for higher positions.
Researchers aren’t the only ones finding inconsistencies in discrimination based on physical beauty traits. Time Magazine reported on similar discrimination issues in 2014, however, their work focused on hiring managers discriminating against gorgeous women for managerial level positions. The way this is similar to more recent work is that it seems participants are continually equating attractiveness with entitlement. This is a workplace bias that needs to be addressed, especially since it is hindering the hiring of women into lucrative positions across the board.
Though our outward appearance cannot always be changed the way we would prefer, it is essential to remember there are ways to make ourselves more attractive to a hiring manager or in networking situations with potential colleagues. To work on your own interview confidence, here are some key questions to consider asking the hiring manager during your next interview. Additionally, these 24 psychological tricks will help you leave a lasting impression.