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Using pictures to qualify – bad hiring practice!

As we continue to grow, we’re always doing research. Asking TA Managers “this”, HR Managers “that”, and of course, Recruiters “this and that”.

It was during one of our research calls with a recruiter that we (well, me specifically) encountered a unique “form” of bias in the hiring process.

What was that bias?

This recruiter can look at a picture of a candidate on social media and decide if they were suitable for a job or not.

A picture is worth 1,000 words - except in this case

“I will never consider a candidate unless I can see their picture,” said the recruiter. This was the explanation of his process in vetting potential candidates for assignments he got from clients.

I asked, “Why do you need to look at their picture to make a determination of calling them?”

“To determine if they are organized or not,” was the response.

This recruiter was responsible for finding people skilled in marketing, and specifically, ones that show strong organizational skills. By looking at their photos either on LinkedIn or Facebook, this recruiter could amazingly determine their organization skills.

This was hard for me to comprehend. And then it was explained that “if someone took the time to get a clean and beautiful headshot of themselves, that is a leading indicator of being organized.”

Oh, ok, now it makes sense???? NOT!! So, if someone couldn’t afford a glamour shot for LinkedIn or perhaps someone who is ultra-amazing at what they do but doesn’t look quite polished means they are not qualified?

There are so many factors that influence the decisions we make every day about candidates. People are influenced by what they see and make assumptions and inferences based on looks alone. But, hey, we are not talking about dating here. Sadly, in the case of this recruiter, the same bias that influences who is approached at a bar also influences a candidate’s fate for a job.

What if there were no pictures?

Imagine if your abilities to do a job were judged by how you look on LinkedIn or other social media. Do we all need to get professional headshots done to reduce the chance of this bias affecting us?

No, we don’t because I have this crazy idea!

Let’s remove our pictures from social media! And, to take this crazy idea further, how about we blindly judge people by their skills and capabilities to determine if they are qualified for a job. I will guarantee that if you qualify a candidate solely by their abilities PRIOR to seeing what they look like, they will look perfect for the job.

Bias like this occurs every day – inside companies as well as by 3rd parties. Let’s look past the pictures and all that other biasing information that only clouds our judgement. Let’s force us all to judge candidates by what matters for the job. It would be a shame if someone passed on the next marketing genius because they couldn’t afford or do a “glamour shot”.

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