Last year, guest blogger Karrie Andes wrote about using her emotions when hiring a benefits broker. And just last month, I wrote about Financial Finesse’s Linda Robertson, who believes corporate hiring should be more like “American Idol.”

Now that EBN is hiring for the first time in about two years, I feel like I’m shooting for somewhere in between the two: trusting my gut instincts about a candidate’s character and chances to succeed, and letting a candidate’s skills do the talking through interviews and their writing samples. 

Obviously, how well I think a candidate will do the job carries significantly more weight, but I know managers for whom the scale tips in the opposite direction. One, in fact, told me (s)he once refused to hire a qualified candidate simply because (s)he didn’t like the candidate’s teeth.

Yes, seriously. Teeth.

The candidate who was ultimately hired turned out to be a great employee (and had lovely teeth), but it made me wonder if other managers are making high-stakes employment decisions in the same way. Especially since, as a Newsweek poll conducted last year shows, 57% of managers believe an unattractive (but qualified) job candidate will have a harder time getting hired, and 63% said being physically attractive gives male job seekers a leg up; 72% said looks are an advantage for women. The poll goes on to say that overweight and older candidates will have a tough time winning over hiring managers as well.

As HR/benefits pros, you’re generally your company’s first line of defense in preventing a hiring discrimination lawsuit.

So, how do you counsel managers against making skin-deep selections or relying solely on gut feeling, with millions of dollars potentially on the line in replacement, training and productivity costs if a hire doesn’t work out, or if a rejected candidate decides to sue? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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