Scars, birthmarks stigmatise job seekers

November 11th, 2011 - 12:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 11 (IANS) Birthmarks, scars and other facial disfigurements are more likely to disqualify a person in job interviews.

The findings show that interviewers recalled less information about these candidates, which negatively impacted evaluations of the applicants.

“When evaluating applicants in an interview setting, it’s important to remember what they are saying,” said Mikki Hebl, Rice University professor of psychology, who led the study, Journal of Applied Psychology reports.

“Our research shows if you recall less information about competent candidates because you are distracted by characteristics on their face, it decreases your overall evaluation of them,” said Hebl, according to a Rice statement.

Hebl co-authored the research paper with University of Houston professor Juan Madera.

The research included two studies, the first of which involved 171 undergraduate students watching a computer-mediated interview while their eye activity was tracked. After the interview, they were asked to recall information about the candidate.

The second study involved face-to-face interviews between candidates who had a facial birthmark and 38 full-time managers enrolled in a part-time MBA and/or a Master of Science in a hospitality management programme, all of whom had experience in interviewing applicants for their current or past staff positions.

Despite the increase in age, experience and education, the interviewers had a tough time managing their reactions to the stigma, Madera said.

In fact, the effects of the stigma were actually stronger with this group, which he attributed to the face-to-face interview setting.

“It just shows that despite maturity and experience levels, it is still a natural human reaction to react negatively to facial stigma,” Madera said.

“The bottom line is how your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview,” Hebl said.

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