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Recruiters Biases Could Lead To Descrimination

Posted on: 7 Oct 2017

Personal hygiene issues are the most common reason recruitment specialists may turn someone down for a job, a poll carried out recently found.

The top ten reasons why a recruiter may turn someone down for a job were revealed by digital recruitment platform SomeoneWho.

The top ten reasons to turn someone down included:


  1. Poor personal hygiene – 39 percent
  2. Cocky attitude – 36 percent
  3. Has big gaps in their cv – 23 percent
  4. Dressed too casually in the interview – 20 percent
  5. Pregnant woman – 18 percent
  6. Too young – 18 percent
  7. Not very confident -17 percent
  8. Extremely timid -17 percent
  9. Old/nearing retirement -16 percent
  10. Married female likely to go on maternity leave soon -11 percent


Women experienced more specific gender discrimination than men, on a number of issues including pregnancy and maternity leave. The survey found that one in 10 recruiters said they would avoid a female applying for a male dominated role, compared to 9 per cent who said they would overlook a male applying for a female dominated roll.

Furthermore over one in 10 said they’d be reluctant to hire a recently married women, due to their presumption she would go on maternity leave not long after starting. Nearly twenty per cent said they wouldn’t hire a pregnant woman.

Class came into it too, with 10 per cent of hiring managers saying they would be unlikely to recruit someone who went to state school, and eight per cent saying the same of people who had been privately educated.

Overweight people, underweight people and attractive people could also all be dismissed by recruiters based on their appearance.

Andrew Saffron, founder of SomeoneWho said: “We all have personal preferences and bugbears – so it’s no surprise that bias creeps into the interview room to some extent. But our research shows that an alarming number of HR managers are actively ruling out candidates based on factors that are discriminatory – education, accent or gender – which is clearly unacceptable.”

There are real, legal implications to these biases however, as gender, age and race (which also came up on the survey) all being protected characteristics, which a company can be taken to court for if they are found to be discriminating on these grounds.

Other forms of discrimination are also demonstrated in this survey, against class and education as well as people’s appearance.

More subtle forms of discrimination appear when you dismiss people over gaps in their CV, this may have been due to illness, disability, pregnancy or caring responsibilities and hiring managers should be careful to ensure they don’t end up indirectly discriminating against people for those reasons.

Mr Saffron went on to explain that his organisation had launched the poll in order to demonstrate how important is was to recruit people based on their merit rather than their background, in order to create a level playing field in which the most able people are recruited.

He also warned against ending up on the wrong side of the law, no matter how reasonable or rational hiring managers believe their biases to be when it comes to recruitment.


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