Something has been weighing on my mind over the past week or so. I know of a situation in which there is a job opening and three candidates have been interviewed. Of the three, one clearly ranked above the rest in terms of experience and consensus was that this person was the most personable and all-around best fit for the position. The position was not offered to this person because of this person’s appearance. This person would be going out to meet with people to get them involved with the organization and it was unanimously felt that this person’s appearance (more specifically, hair) was unkempt and disheveled and that this person would not present well to the public for this reason. This person is warm, well-spoken, and passionate about the cause that they would be speaking about. Everyone who interviewed this person liked this person and wanted to hire this person. Everyone on the interview panel agreed that it was a shame they had to discount the person for this reason.
In this economic climate, I can’t imagine that this person (who, like the other two candidates, has been unemployed for some months) would refuse to do something about their hair if they really wanted the job. This is probably hindering their job search considerably, so even if they are offended that this criticism is made, it just seems the decent thing to do to let this person know what’s up.
The person who ultimately makes the hiring decision has been agonizing over this for the past week, particularly given that another interview was held yesterday and the interviewee was not anywhere near the caliber of the first person. The interview panel now compares every interviewee to the first person and finds them lacking.
The hiring person really wants the first candidate. If you were in the position of the hiring decider (just made that up) how would you handle this situation? If you were the really strong candidate who is being passed over due to your appearance, would you want to be told? And how?