‘You look right for the job’: Bosses admit employing beautiful people

Competence has nothing to do with it as managers look for office mates

Bosses responsible for recruiting their own staff do so according to their own prejudices rather than looking out for the person most suited for the job, it appears.

That’s the finding of a national business law consultancy, which found bosses admitting – anonymously, of course – that they’d prefer to employ someone good looking over somebody with more average looks.

And according to the employment law firm Protecting.co.uk, that goes as far as managers also recruiting people who they think could be good friends in or out of the office instead of somebody more qualified for the job.

“We hardly surprised at this outcome,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “judging by the number of complaints we hear from people who are certain they’ve been overlooked for jobs because of these reasons.

“Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s a difficult thing to prove, but dodgy recruiting and internal promotion processes are absolutely out there, in all four corners of the British Isles.”

“And worse, these claims can cost companies thousands.”

Protecting.co.uk spoke to 500 company managers with responsibility for recruiting on condition of anonymity on whether they cut corners on interviewing people for jobs. The results showed:

• 65% had employed someone over their looks rather than their ability to do the job
• 48% had employed someone because they thought they would be ‘mates’

What’s interesting,” Hall says, “Is that the results were consistent among both male and female managers, and it’s not just a case of male bosses taking on female eye candy, either.”

Protecting.co.uk found that male bosses will employ good looking male or female candidates over plainer or more average candidates of both sexes; and that female bosses are not particularly biased towards male Adonises.

It’s borne out by statements given by various managers:

• One retail boss told us: “Choice of two people, one guy with just enough experience and looked the kind of bloke I could get along with down the pub. The other was the perfect candidate but with a face like a Tupperware box full of spanners. I didn’t want to scare the customers. Sorry.”

• Female manager at a nationwide insurance company: “I’ll admit it. Given the choice of a good-looking female candidate or a normal-looking bloke. I’d take the guy at the drop of a hat, there’s no way I want office romances messing up our routine.”

• Garage boss: “Is he going to be any good down the pub? That’s what I always ask. I don’t want any quiet types, we’re not that sort of business.”

As Protecting.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall points out, these admissions could land a company in serious legal trouble should they become public.

“Recruiting processes are supposed to be both transparent and unbiased,” he says. “If it turns out bosses are employing people on good looks, or if they could back them up in a bar fight, they could easily find themselves on the end of costly or time-consuming claims.”

A claim disputing an interview or recruiting process because of allegations of bias could cost a company tens of thousands of pounds in legal costs.

While pulling together an effective and friendly team is central to any business, taking on people on account of their looks or drinking capacity could end up causing more trouble than it’s worth, Protecting.co.uk says.

“Managers! Think about what you’re doing!” says Hall. “Is it really worth the danger?”