Beauty barriers: are you judging candidates by their hair and nails?

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Chipped nails, split ends, smudged mascara – when it comes to grooming for an interview it seems hiring managers in Britain are making some big generalizations base on small signals.

Are those with chipped nails nervous and unprepared? Do split ends mean someone is lazy or is smudged mascara indicative of a party animal?

Those are the conclusions reached by British hiring managers surveyed by London department store Debenhams.

  • Chipped nails = nervous/unprepared: 24%
  • Split ends = lazy: 19%
  • Smudged mascara = party animal: 17%
  • Fake tan = loves a holiday: 13%
  • Bright red lipstick = power crazy: 7%
  • Heavily pencilled brows = too confident, cocky: 5%
  • Overpowering perfume = attention seeker: 4%
  • Lipstick on teeth= careless: 3%
  • No mascara = emotional wreck: 3%
  • Line of foundation = lack of attention to detail: 2%
  • Drawn-on beauty spot = untruthful: 2%
  • 100 per cent immaculate = gunning for boss's job: 1%

Sara Stern of Debenhams, which carried out the survey of 2,000 executives, said: “Clearly the application of make-up and fragrance is just as important as making sure your outfit is clean and ironed ahead of an interview.  It seems a more natural-looking middle ground is the way to go for sure-fire success.”

One might hope solid experience, insightful questions and well-considered answers would mean more. Should candidates spend less time on prep and more on primping? Tell us what you think in the comments.



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  • Jennifer Inch on 2012-10-11 11:45:40 AM

    I find it interesting that there is an assumption that women should wear make-up. I haven't worn makeup in nearly twenty years - it's a waste of my time, not to mention resources (think of all the money I've saved!), and I have nothing to hide. I put my grooming time into what I think are better priorities - being clean, presentable (incuding hair) and appropriately dressed.
    And quite frankly, if an employer were to not hire me because I don't wear make-up, then I don't want to work for them anyway.

  • Janine on 2012-10-11 7:28:44 PM

    I'd be curious to know if men are judged by the same shallow standards these women apparently are? I have to simply shake my head at this complete and utter nonsense.

  • Anna Lee Harris on 2012-10-15 4:51:21 PM

    A friend was told a few years ago that if she wanted a promotion she needed to take more time with her hair and make up. Even though it upset her, she did as requested and then stopped when promoted. She wasn't messy - usually had her hair tied back and tidy and wore mascara but not more than that. It's ridiculous, but it definitely happens.

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