Attractive job candidates less likely to land low-paying, unappealing jobs
- Good looks might have disadvantages, according to new research from the American Psychological Association (APA). Attractive job candidates are generally thought to have an edge over their less-attractive peers in getting plum jobs, but according to the APA study, they lose out when it comes to low-paying, uninteresting and less appealing jobs.
- In a series of experiments, researchers showed 750 participants profiles and pictures of two job candidates, one rated as attractive and the other rated as less attractive. The participants were asked questions to evaluate the candidates, and ended up favoring the attractive person for the more favorable job and the less attractive candidate for the undesirable job.
- Researchers concluded that attractive job candidates are discriminated against when going after low-paying, physically demanding jobs.
Hiring people for their looks can have legal consequences. A former NBC employee sued the network in July for allegedly hiring only attractive people — a claim lodged in connection with a sexual harassment complaint. Employers who favor attractive candidates may not only find themselves facing bias claims in court, but they also risk making a bad hire. And as HR knows, undoing that mistake is costly.
One of the report's co-authors noted that the study's participants assumed that they knew the aspirations of the job candidates. Participants thought that attractive individuals would want better outcomes, and therefore predicted that they would be less satisfied in the less desirable job.
But stereotyping has no place in recruiting and hiring. As a government official recently warned: “We should always be looking at ability, not age. [W]e should be looking at ability, not race and not sex.”
- American Psychological Association The Problem with Being Pretty