New research shows that being an attractive man may actually count against you in job interviews. According to a study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, good-looking males are perceived to be more competent than their less attractive counterparts, and are therefore discriminated against in work environments where other males view them as competitors.
This may sound counterintuitive, but not to me: it’s a prejudice I’ve faced all my life. I’ve lost count of the number of jobs I didn’t get because my looks intimidated a male interviewer. Fortunately, I’ve developed some strategies to counteract this bias, which I’m happy to pass on to any men who find their looks are holding them back.
Don’t be emasculating
The reason male interviewers feel threatened by good-looking applicants is because they associate attractiveness, however irrationally, with competence. Try undercutting this assumption of competence during the interview: arrive late; profess to have little idea of what the position entails; reply to questions about previous employment with the words, “Whoa – let’s not even go there.” Even after I perfected this strategy, there were still many occasions when I didn’t get the job, which gives you some idea of the mountain I’ve had to climb.
Assert your attractiveness from the outset
Let the interviewer know that you know how good-looking he thinks you are, and that you expect to be treated fairly in spite of it. I like to walk in and introduce myself by saying: “Just because I’m handsome, it doesn’t mean my name is Handsome.” Sometimes they stare, but I’m used to that.
You’d be surprised by how easily attractiveness can be offset by an ill-fitting jacket, or slightly torn trousers. If you’re trying to draw the interviewer’s eye away from your face, there’s nothing like a large, well-positioned shirt-front stain.
Be vigilant about photographs
Most employers will Google you as soon as you apply to see how attractive you are, so make sure there isn’t anything photogenic on Facebook. For a long time, there was a pic of me lying shirtless on a road somewhere, lit by a single street lamp, hair attractively tousled, upper lip slightly swollen, which I realised was stopping me getting to interview stage. I finally got my friend Barry to untag me from the whole stag weekend.
Let it be known you are sexually inadequate
This kind of information can be hard to get across in a brief interview – in my experience, the question hardly ever comes up – but you can still create the impression. Try casually mentioning that you drive a BMW X5 – everybody knows what that means. Me, I just wear tiny shoes.