Keeping up appearances
Did you know how much your appearance matters on a job interview? Shocking new stats suggest that as many as 9 in 10 employers would be reluctant hire a candidate who is obese over a thinner model. A study by Protecting.co.uk, an employment law consultancy, found that bosses admitted that they would rather employ the smaller of the two candidates, especially if the job involved working with the public. But now the European Court of Justice has ruled that obesity can in some extreme cases be a disability, it opens up a whole new area of concern for businesses.
A shop manager, who filled out the survey anonymously, said: “It sounds awful, but I don’t want a morbidly obese person as the public face of my business… But if you replace ‘fat’ for ‘black’ or ‘disabled’, I know how wrong it sounds.”
However, it must be said that the onus is on the candidate to ensure they are presentable for the interview, especially if the job is dealing with the public. I’m not fat-ist – I’ve been everything from a size 10 to a size 18 – but I know that when dealing with the public, being well-groomed is essential.
Do thinner ladies and gentlemen take more pride in their appearance? Does excess weight raise a red flag for mental illness? I can only speak for myself but I know for a fact that when I am struggling in my personal life, I put on weight. When I am feeling good about myself, I work out. It’s not about what the scale says: it’s about how I feel.
Of course some industries put more ‘weight’ on appearance than others. An IT homeworker will dress very differently to a PR intern or retail assistant, for example. But everyone needs to impress at an interview.
Fit (not thin) people have an abundance of energy and good ideas to drive a business forward. You can be a size 16 and still fit! Or you can be a size 8 and lethargic. Any good interviewer will know the difference.
So how can you give yourself the best possible chance of interview success? My friends at Bond Williams Professional Recruitment suggest the following – and it’s not ALL about looks:
Look your best! This has nothing to do about being fat or thin – dress up, show up, make good eye contact and look enthusiastic.
Check your route to the interview before the day and be on time.
Remember the interviewer’s name and what vacancy you have applied for. Read the job description thoroughly and prepare some answers to questions about experiences/scenarios that demonstrate that you have the right skills.
Take a copy of your CV with you so you can go through it with the interviewer.
Research the company – thoroughly.
Smile from the second you walk through the door. Anyone you meet from this moment forward may directly or indirectly influence the final decision maker.
Be confident, be yourself and be enthusiastic.
Listen – sometimes people actually forget to listen to the questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for something to be repeated if you don’t understand or need clarification.
Smile and be confident but don’t overdo it!
Ask relevant questions, such as: What they are looking for in the successful applicant?
At the end of the interview, let them know if you are interested in the job and ask when you will hear from them and when they expect to make a decision.
Don’t forget to say goodbye to reception as you leave, particularly if they have taken care of you while you were waiting.
So while the survey stats may surprise, the issue is not really weight, it is more about taking the time and trouble to show a potential employer that you want the job; and taking pride in your appearance, whatever your size.