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Facial Disfigurements Negatively Impact Job Applicants—With Exclusive Advice About How to Work With These Types of Clients

Posted: November 10, 2011

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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.

"When looking at another person during a conversation, your attention is naturally directed in a triangular pattern around the eyes and mouth," Madera said. "We tracked the amount of attention outside of this region and found that the more the interviewers attended to stigmatized features on the face, the less they remembered about the candidate's interview content, and the less memory they had about the content led to decreases in ratings of the applicant."

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 program, 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.