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Do Attractive People Have a Leg Up In Job Interviews?

attractive people and hiring decisions

Beautiful people and the job hunt

Do good-looking people have all the benefits? Certainly, attractive people are far more likely to become famous actors, actresses, and models.

It turns out that how attractive a candidate is can have a huge impact on their chances of getting a job interview. Experiments already proved that wearing luxury brands increases the chances of being hired, so it stands to reason that good looks might have similar effects.

Researchers from the University of Messina sent over 11,000 resumes to 1,542 job openings in Italy – eight resumes per opening. Four resumes in each batch had one of four pictures: an attractive man, an unattractive man, an attractive woman, or an unattractive woman.

The other four resumes had no pictures at all. The average callback rate was 30%, but attractive people received far more attention.

Attractive women had a callback rate of 54% and attractive men had a callback rate of 47%. However, unattractive women had a callback rate of 7% and unattractive men had a callback rate of 24%.

Women and perceptions of attractiveness

It looks like women are far more likely to be judged for their looks in both positive and negative ways.

An Israeli study found slightly different results. Bradley J. Ruffle from Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business & Economics and Zeev Shtudiner from Airel University Center’s Department of Economics sent 5312 CVs to 2656 job openings.


Each pair had one CV with a picture of an attractive or plain-looking man or woman and another CV with no picture. Attractive men were the most likely to receive callbacks while attractive women were the least likely.

The researchers hypothesized that many HR agencies were staffed by women who feel jealous of other attractive women.

Other studies

In a post-study survey, the researchers found that 24 out of 25 of the people who reviewed the resumes were women. Perhaps their hypothesis holds true.

German psychologist Maria Agathe found strong evidence to support that hypothesis, especially among women. A 2011 experiment asked men and women to rate applicants seeking a job as an editor.

Both men and women rated attractive opposite-sex members higher and attractive same-sex members lower.

She conducted two other similar experiments, one where participants had to watch videos of candidates and another where they had to pick which students would receive scholarships, and both of them showed similar results.

Related: Nice and weak aren’t the same

According to her research, women only picked attractive female candidates 11.7% of the time. There seems to be one major takeaway from these experiments: If you are an attractive person, make sure your interviewer is someone of the opposite sex.

Regardless, it appears that discrimination based on looks is still an unfortunate reality of the workplace. Interviewers should strive to examine unconscious biases and judge candidates based on their qualifications, not their looks.

Have you ever been passed over for a job because the hiring manager based their decision on another person’s looks?

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Main picture: Deposit photos

Do Attractive People Have a Leg Up In Job Interviews?

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2018). Do Attractive People Have a Leg Up In Job Interviews?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2018
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