Research: Facial Imperfections Impact Hiring

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Research shows that attractive people get paid more and are considered for more jobs, which I’m sure most of us consider unfair and discriminatory.

Now there is new research from Rice University and the University of Houston that suggests if someone has a birthmark, mole or scar or some other “facial imperfection,” then it’s likely that will affect how that person is evaluated during a Skype interview.

The solution, according to researchers, is to acknowledge the “imperfection” at the beginning of a conversation, which makes employers less likely to focus on it.

“Facial stigmas draw attention during social interactions, including interviews,” says Juan Madera, associate professor of management at the University of Houston. “Our experiment showed that it draws attention at the start of an interaction, and then people look away. Seconds later they look back at it, and this cycle of looking back and forth is continuous. We theorize that people try to make sense of it. They may ask themselves, ‘What is it?’ ‘How did they get that?’ ‘Is it is from an accident?’ or ‘Were they born with it?’ In an interview setting, an interviewer also needs to pay attention to an applicant’s answers, which is probably why they continuously look away from it.”

If they don’t acknowledge the “imperfection,” then “people seem to get stuck in a vicious cycle of staring at the scar and looking away,” notes Mikki Hebl, the Martha and Henry Malcom Lovett Chair of Psychology at Rice.

Researchers say they hope the study will highlight workplace discrimination and show how a person’s looks can affect the hiring process.

For more information, check out: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/pad/vol5/iss2/3/.