Maxwell Stephens

Do Men and Women Interview Job Candidates Differently in Facilities Recruitment?

It is an interesting thing that when asked if they would prefer a male or female to interview them, people tend to go for the opposite sex.

The reason for this is because we feel that we might be able to rely perhaps on something as well as our business competency to sway the vote in our favour if we are being interviewed by the opposite sex.   One man responding to the question on a forum said he would rather be interviewed by a woman because he could give her ‘the look’ and he would be assured of getting the job!  Not a very scientific approach but it is an impression that some job seekers in facilities management have.


Many people think that women can be unpredictable, and more emotional in their approach to a prospective employee in facilities recruitment.  There is the feeling that factors other than suitability for the position may come into play in facilities recruitment and that bias to things other than professional facilities management related qualification might sway a female interviewer.


Men are seen as having a more logical approach to interviewing people in facilities recruitment and in assessing them not on how they might fit into the office dynamic but on whether they have the relevant facilities experience for the job.  It is often felt that the interviewee can tell how things are going with a man much better than they can with a woman.  One lady applying for an facilities job was interviewed separately by two females and was encouraged to think that everything had gone very well.  She did not get the job and no reason was given.  She was left feeling that her face didn’t fit.


It is true that with todays rigid facilities recruitment interview parameters and with the killer questions that every interviewee in FM dreads like “What is your area of weakness?” leaves less room for personal interpretation or deviation from the format but there is also no doubt that, being human, we respond differently to members of the opposite sex than we do to our own sex.


Researchers at the London School of Economics conducted a study amongst 52,000 people in the U.S. and U.K. that was aimed at seeing if being attractive gave an advantage. The results were unequivocal.  The study found that attractive men had IQs over thirteen points above the average while their female counterparts scored over eleven IQ points higher than the average. The study concluded that being physically appealing associated positively with intelligence and made attractive candidates arguably more employable.


This research was published in the professional journal Intelligence. In what many may see as a controversial standpoint, Satoshi Kanazawa, the study leader said that the argument that beautiful people were more intelligent was only scientific and not an indication of how we should behave towards or judge other people.


Dr Gordon Patzer of Roosevelt University in Chicago has undertaken thirty years of research on the influence of physical attractiveness and has found that we tend to think that good-looking men and women are more talented, kinder, more trustworthy and more intelligent.  This will obviously have an impact in the interview scenario as possibly the most attractive may edge the process and land the job.  Controlled studies that Patzer conducted show that, in general, people will put themselves out to help attractive people both of their same sex and of the opposite sex as they want to be accepted and to be liked by these people.


K.K. Dion and colleagues at the University of Toronto and A.G. Miller of Oberlin College in Ohio have also studied the way that we see each other and have found that the more attractive the person the easier life is for them, as they are seen to be more outgoing, happier and to have more positive traits. Professor Mikki Hebi from Rice University in Texas says that what you look like is indisputably likely to significantly influence the outcome of a job interview.


It seems then from this research that the answer to the question of whether men and women interview candidates differently in facilities recruitment depends on who they are interviewing and what the interviewee’s sex is.  The subconscious desire to attract a person who we have been hard-wired to see as successful and desirable may override, to some extent, the evaluation of their suitability for the position. And while this might not mean that an attractive candidate could land a job for which they were not qualified, it might mean they have will have an advantage if they are interviewed by a member of the opposite sex.


Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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