Ever been curious about whether others think you’re beautiful? Then just upload your picture on www.beautifulpeople.com and have others evaluate your attractiveness. Now you might think it’s “just a normal dating site”. However, it isn’t. There is actually another service which you might consider quite uncommon. Here you will find the first job listing service for attractive candidates.
This is what they say:
“BeautifulPeople’s recruitment service makes it easy for businesses to secure attractive personable employees to give your business that competitive edge. The members of BeautifulPeople.com offer a wealth of skills, qualifications and expertise with the added bonus that they all look fantastic.”
Wow! Almost too good to be true!
Apart from the fact that beauty is quite subjective, I am wondering whether recruiting is sacrificing competencies for beauty. Is the concept of the site discriminatory?
Yes, of course it is. Behind the business model, however, lies a more fundamental question: Is it easier for attractive candidates to get a job? What’s behind the Beauty Bias in Recruiting? Let’s dig deeper here:
Is it easier for attractive candidates to get a job?
The first question can be answered quickly: Yes. Is that fair? No, but what’s fair in life?
Statistics show that when it comes to employment interviews we tend to rate attractive people better (Huffcutt, 2011) and we tend to give them higher salaries. Not to mention the fact that life in general seems to be easier for them. (Anderson, Adams & Plaut, 2008). Sure, model or hostess agencies define beauty as a selection criterion in a wider sense. We’ll leave the discussion about unhealthy ideals of beauty up to experts like Karl Lagerfeld as well as ideal and cultural pessimists of our time 😉
However, we can surely agree that attractiveness should not be a selection criterion for the majority of job profiles.
Why do we rate beautiful people better?
So often, human beings are not rational in this area either. Here, we are confronted with a stereotype which roughly says “What is beautiful is good” – and therefore correct/appropriate. Even though I’m not a big fan of evolutionary psychology, the nature of stereotypes lies in generous generalization. This makes thinking easier. To digest the load of information we get every single day, we resort to some extent of stereotyped thinking, which contains categories like “beautiful -> positive characteristics”.
If you think now that you just have to be beautiful to achieve everything you want, you might be mistaken. Attractiveness could also have the opposite effect once different stereotypes meet: Attractive people may be considered to be more competent in general, but when it comes to filling a management position, they tend to be regarded as less competent, less assertive, etc …
Interested in getting more information about stereotypes or prejudices? Then you should read research by Princeton’s Susan Fiske’s – one of the world’s most renowned researchers in this field.
Employment interview: how can you outsmart the Beauty Bias?
For those who do not recruit models or Abercrombie & Fitch guys, a fair evaluation can be implemented quite easily by introducing structure into the process.
A structured interview differs from an unstructured interview in certain key areas:
- All candidates get asked the same questions and go through the same process (Consistency of administration)
- Competency-based and job-related questions based on a competency model or a requirements analysis are asked (e.g. situational questions and behavioral descriptive questions)
- Evaluation is standardized using, for example, behavioral anchors to assess candidate answers
“Fatsuit” experience: Are we discriminating overweight applicants?
The effectiveness of a structured interview is striking.
Kutcher and Bragger (2004) examined the question whether a structured interview can reduce or prevent a negative bias against overweight candidates. To exclude the possibility that some other factors could distort the results, the authors chose a very special research design:
In the first setting, one and the same person was sent to an employment interview “in natura”, in another one the person was wearing a “fatsuit”. The result was impressive: While in an unstructured interview the “fatsuit wearing” candidate assessment was significantly worse than in the “in natura” setting, there was absolutely no difference in the structured interview…!
Structured interviews provide an evaluation that is more fair than unstructured ones!
If you liked this article you will probably like this one, too: “9 most common mistakes in personnel selection”
Anderson, S. L., Adams, G., & Plaut, V. C. (2008). The cultural grounding of personal relationship: The importance of attractiveness in everyday life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(2), 352-368. doi: Doi 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1682
Huffcutt, A. I. (2011). An Empirical Review of the Employment Interview Construct Literature. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 19(1), 62-81. doi: Doi 10.1111/J.1468-2389.2010.00535.X
Kutcher, E. J., & Bragger, J. D. (2004). Selection interviews of overweight job applicants: Can structure reduce the bias? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(10), 1993-2022. doi: Doi 10.1111/J.1559-1816.2004.Tb02688.X