Conventional wisdom already said, but now research has confirmed scientifically: People with birthmarks, scars or other facial abnormalities are more likely to be evaluated negatively in job interviews and not only for direct bias, but also a more subtle phenomenon.
In evaluating the candidates in an interview, it is important to remember what they say. However, Mikki Hebl psychologist at Rice University, and Juan Madera of the University of Houston, both institutions in the United States have found that interviewers tend to get distracted with abnormal facial features and that leads them to pay less attention to responses and other feedback from the candidates. If the interviewer remember less information about certain qualified candidates as a result of which was distracted by the facial features, it tends to diminish the value of such candidate’s assessment of them.
In the first set of experiments, involving 171 college students, who watched an interview through a computer, while tracking the activity of their eyes, after the interview, were asked to recall information about the candidate.
Looking at another person during a conversation, the focus is naturally following a triangular pattern around the eyes and mouth. In the experiments, we tracked the amount of attention outside the region, and it was found that the more attention devoted interviewers’ abnormal facial features, less reminiscent of the content of the interview with the candidate. And the less reminded of that interview, the worse their evaluation of the latter.
The second set of experiments was done by face to face interviews with candidates who have a facial birthmark and 38 managers who had extensive experience in interviewing candidates for jobs. Despite the greater age, experience and education of the interviewers, they were difficult to control their reactions to the anomalous features. In fact, the effects of these features were more marked in this group of interviewers, which is probably because the interviews were conducted face to face.
Hebl and Madera hope their research will serve to raise public awareness of the existence of this form of employment discrimination unnoticed.