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Back to Blog November 29, 2012

CVUK Talk – The Real Reason you didn’t get that job

Whether we like it or not we judge, and are continually judged, on our appearance and even though we try our hardest to abide by the famous ‘never judge a book by its cover’ rule there’s no denying we’re all guilty of forming preconceived ideas of people before getting to know them.

But before we all start reeling with shame let me say that perhaps our judgmental ways aren’t so shameful after all as recent reports show that appearance is becoming the main contributing factor for interview failure.

It’s a given that turning up to in an interview looking scruffy most probably won’t land you the job, however figures show that making too much of an effort can actually work against you as you can come of desperate and power-hungry, especially for women. One study showed that 2/3 of interviewees fail in the eyes of their interviewer within the first three minutes, based purely on their appearance. This would seem obvious if the poor appearance was a result of ironed clothes or messy hair but according to new information it’s much more complicated than that. In actual fact major problems occurred surrounding make-up and hair ‘mishaps’, including dark eye make-up and foundation colour.

A recent survey into the connection between appearance and interview success rates saw bosses quote dark lipstick and no mascara as reasons for failed candidates, saying that strong colours gave the impression of being ‘power-mad’ and that lack of mascara suggests being prone to emotional breakdowns. In an October issue of Grazia, make-up artist Bobbie Brown shared his advice on make-up dos and don’ts to remember when interviewing for a job. Agreeing that appearance is actually far more important than we may think, his top tips included only wearing one bright colour at a time (either a bold eye colour and subtle lips or vice versa) and when wearing concealer always choose one a shade lighter than your foundation.

This may all seem very superficial but unfortunately these claims are backed up by strong and perhaps not so shocking statistics. A recent survey by ComeRecommended showed that 55% of bosses claim the strongest impact in an interview comes from dress rather than qualifications or relevant experience, and 65% said they would make a decision between two similar candidates based purely on appearance. So what’s the cut-off point? It seems there isn’t one. If women wear lipstick to an interview (which I always have done) we’re crazy career obsessives but minimal or no slap and we’re automatically blubbering wrecks unable to hold back the tears.

With so many rules it feels slightly like we’re falling back into the ways of ‘dress for success’ with an ever increasing number of people with similar qualifications it seems that being judged on such detailed aspects of appearance is inevitable in the working world.

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