Impact of Physical Appearance on Job Applicants

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When recruiters intend to hire new employees, certainly they take several factors in consideration to select the appropriate applicant. Of course, the applicant’s educational certificates and work experience is important, but the physical appearance is also a major element that affects the employee’s choice.

A lot of scientific studies have investigated how important is physical appearance for the employee’s choice of an employee.  A recently published study carried at Sorbonne University, Paris, tried to go through this subject and discusses the impact of makeup and cosmetics on women during job applications.

In modern times, appearance matters and employment is no exception. When employees decide to employ someone, the physical appearance plays a major role even when the position is not highly exposed.

The study tried to answer the question if applicants “with equal skills and for the same position, will a recruiter prefer to call back a woman wearing makeup or a neutral looking woman?”

According to researchers, makeup should be applied professionally. The study stated that “the use of cosmetics will have either a positive or negative influence on the personality traits, i.e. A woman using cosmetics in a professional way, may look more serious and skilled.”

Also, makeup needs to be applied moderately. “Professional makeup” makes the individual “friendlier and more professional… (Yet) a natural makeup (“minimal”) and a glamorous makeup (“dramatical”) are not recommended” as discussed in the study.

Researchers emphasized “the influence of professional makeup during the time of selection based on CV. For saleswoman jobs in the ready-to-wear division, the use of makeup allows our applicants to get at least 3 times more positive responses… The odds of getting a positive response … are at least 7 times greater with professional makeup.

In this regard, this study explained that “interviewers collect considerable, but obviously incomplete, information about an applicant before and during the interview and then presumably use an attribution process to form a complete impression of the person when making an employment decision. One of the variables that could influence an interviewer’s decision is the physical appearance of the applicant.”

So, it seems that “after all, it all comes down to knowing whether the recruiter, looking at a professionally embellished candidate, sees a “smart, honest and faithful” woman, or a beautiful and attractive woman” as stated by researchers.

Physical appearance is important for job applicants both for men and women. Studies explained that “employers understand that persons who do not look like they can take care of themselves will not elicit confidence that they can take care of a potential customer’s business.” For women, they are judged most on their beauty and the applying of cosmetics and makeup.


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