Screening Job Applicants: The Impact of Physical Attractiveness and Application Quality

Lucy M. Watkins, Lucy Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated the impact of physical attractiveness and résumé quality on the evaluation of job applicants in the screening phase of the selection process. One hundred and eighty participants were asked to imagine they were a recruiting officer and to screen an application for the position of graduate trainee manager. Participants read a job advertisement and one of two versions of a curriculum vitae, which differed in quality. Attached to the front page of each curriculum vitae was a passport-sized head-and-shoulders photograph of either an average or an attractive female. A control condition with no attached photograph was also included. Participants judged the likelihood with which they would offer an interview to the applicant, the quality of the application, and the likely starting salary they would offer the applicant. Results indicated that attractiveness had no impact when the quality of the application was high but that attractiveness was an advantage when the application was mediocre. When the résumé quality was average the attractive applicant was evaluated more positively than the control, no photograph, applicant; an attractive photograph boosted the evaluation of a mediocre application. Results are discussed in terms of discrimination and implications for the field of human resource management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Selection and Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes


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