A book by its cover

Man measuring his faceInteresting, isn’t it, what academics research?

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee claims that men with wider faces are ‘more devious and willing to cheat’ while thinner faced men are ‘more likely to be honest and open’.

It got me thinking about the power of observation and how we make assumptions about people without them even having to look at us never mind speak to us.

With the plethora of celebrity magazines and online media we can obsessively pore over photographs of celebrities and people in the news and draw conclusions from what we see, but how accurate are we and more specifically when does this power of observation hinder rather than help us? 

First Impressions in Recruitment

Images of Escape team members

Some of the trustworthy male faces at Escape....all with the right "width to height ratio"!

Take recruitment for example; on average it takes someone a matter of seconds to form an opinion about another human being (7 seconds to be exact, according to reaserch from New York University), but how fair is this and does it mean that we miss out on great hiring opportunities because we don’t like the length of someone’s hair or the colour of their eyes?

After 20 years in the recruitment industry I’ve heard my fair share of interviewers’ objections to candidates that quite frankly bear no relevance to their ability to perform effectively, here are just a few:
  • “I’m not going to invite this candidate to 2nd interview; he was wearing a double breasted suit.”
  • “The candidate was too fat”
  • “The candidate had cat hairs on her jacket” 
  • “Before I interview I need to know that none of these candidates have dyed their hair”
  • “They had bad teeth”
  • “The perfume they wore reminded me of my ex-wife”

I could go on and on.

Recruiting on evidence

The best way to decide if someone is right for your business is to thoroughly interview them and to use additional recruitment tools if necessary to match their skills and experience with your role. Take a pragmatic approach and really get to know your interviewee, after all, they may become a trusted employee.

As for the wide face thin face debate, give me a break please! I don’t care how much research they have done they would have spent the money better on finding out where the tooth fairy lives. How someone behaves in my opinion is a nature and nurture result not whether they have a face as wide as the Clyde.

First impressions do count but what a sad world it would be if we always judged a book by its cover.

Read more about this study: Discovery News

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