Your Good Looks Might Be Hurting Your Job Prospects

Is 'dress to impress' your mantra when you're headed for a job interview? You might want to rethink that approach

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‘Make sure you look your best’ is one of the most common pieces of advice we receive before an important job interview. That’s why we spend almost as much time in front of the mirror as we do going over our resume! You might think looking the part will get you favourable treatment in the hiring process, but recent research suggests otherwise.


When Is Dressing Up Not A Good Idea?

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in March 2018 found that good looks could actually be a disadvantage in certain job interviews. The researchers conducted a series of four experiments involving more than 750 participants, including both university students looking for jobs and hiring managers responsible for recruitment.

Participants were shown profiles of two potential job candidates that included photos. The candidate in one profile was attractive and the other unattractive. The photos used were vetted by previous research to test attractiveness. The participants were then asked a series of questions designed to measure their perceptions of the job candidates. In three of the four experiments, they were asked whether they would hire these candidates for a less-than-desirable job like a housekeeper or a customer service representative, or a more desirable job like a manager or a project director.

The Surprising Results

The commonly held belief is that the more attractive candidate would be hired no matter what the position, which is why people spend so much time on their appearance before a job interview. While this holds true for the more desirable job, the researchers found the reverse to be the case when it came to the undesirable job.

Why You Should Dress Up With Caution

So why does looking your best cause you to lose out on some jobs? “We found that participants perceived attractive individuals to feel more entitled to good outcomes than unattractive individuals, and those attractive individuals were predicted to be less satisfied with an undesirable job than an unattractive person,” explained lead author Margaret Lee in an official press release. “In the selection decision for an undesirable job, decision makers were more likely to choose the unattractive individual over the attractive individual. We found this effect to occur even with hiring managers,” she went on to elaborate.

So the next time you suit up before an important interview, make sure your fashion choices match up with the job you want!