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INDIAN INSTITUE OF MANAGEMENT, LUCNOW

Study on Impact of Physical Attractiveness on the mind of Recruiter Human Resource Management

Submitted to Prof. Pankaj Kumar

Group: C6 Ankit Kansal (PGP23095) Ayush (PGP23100)

Dhruva Garg (PGP23105) Gobindo (PGP23110)

Johns Vikas (PGP23113) Kunal Bansal (PGP23115) Nainish Shah (PGP23118) Neeraj Jain (PGP23119)

Rahul Mittal (PGP23123)

Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................5 Literature Survey.................................................................................................................................5 Details of Study .......................................................................................................................................7 Objectives of Study.............................................................................................................................7 Importance of Study............................................................................................................................7 Methodology of Survey ......................................................................................................................7 Participants......................................................................................................................................8 Measures .......................................................................................................................................10 Procedure ......................................................................................................................................10 Results & Findings .................................................................................................................................12 Good Resume: Male..........................................................................................................................12 Good Resume: Female ......................................................................................................................13 Average Resume: Male .....................................................................................................................14 Average Resume: Female..................................................................................................................15 Analysis & Conclusions..........................................................................................................................17 Normalized Data ...............................................................................................................................18 Recommendations ................................................................................................................................20 Limitations of Study ..............................................................................................................................21 Scope of Further Work..........................................................................................................................22 Bibliography ..........................................................................................................................................23 Appendix ...............................................................................................................................................24 Photographs Used.............................................................................................................................24 Good Quality Resume .......................................................................................................................25 Average Quality Resume...................................................................................................................26 Job Profile .........................................................................................................................................27 Sample Survey...................................................................................................................................28 2

List Of Tables
Table 1: Different combinations of resume which were compared ......................................................11 Table 2: Averaging rating of male and female resumes without photograph......................................17 Table 3: Average rating of candidates with resumes with photographs ..............................................18 Table 4: Normalized rating of candidates with resumes with photographs.........................................19

List of Figures

Figure 1: Age-wise variation of respondents ..........................................................................................8 Figure 2: Gender wise variation in respondents......................................................................................9 Figure 3: Education background wise variation of respondents.............................................................9 Figure 4: Categorization of respondents on the basis of their involvement in the recruitment process ..............................................................................................................................................................10 Figure 5: Comparing average rating of a male with good resume under various conditions...............13 Figure 6: Comparing average rating of a female with good resume under various conditions ...........14 Figure 7: Comparing average rating of a male with average resume under various conditions..........15 Figure 8: Comparing average rating of a female with average resume under various conditions ......16

Introduction
When meeting someone for the first time, the characteristic that impress the most in appearance. A fundamental principle of person perception is that people form first impressions of others on the basis of their immediately apparent features such as physical appearance. This principle highlights the fact that physical attractiveness is an important variable to study in relation to employment context. For some jobs physical attractiveness may be appropriate criterion on which to evaluate applicants, but in most instances, physical appearance is unrelated to job performance and hence any bias toward physically attractive job application represents discrimination.

Literature Survey
People are likely to organize their perceptions and expectations of another individual around his or her race, sex, age and attractiveness-all observable characteristics which reflect status in our society. This notion is the basis of Status Characteristics Theory (Berger et al., 1977). Status characteristics theory (SCT) is the branch of expectation states theory developed by Joseph Berger and his colleagues (1966; 1977). Bierg-er et al. define a status characteristic as: . . . any characteristic that has differentially evaluated states that are associated directly or indirectly with expectation states. Status characteristics may be either diffuse or specific. The expectations associated with a diffuse status characteristic (e.g., race or sex) are generalizable to a wide variety of situations, whereas the expectations associated with a specific status characteristic (e.g., math skill) apply only to specific situations. One of the most widely cited conclusions from research on physical attractiveness is summarized by Dion, Besrchield and Walsters (1972, p. 285): what is beautiful is good. There is considerable empirical evidence that physical attractiveness impacts employment decision making, with the result that the more attractive an individual, the greater the likelihood that that person will be hired (Watkins & Johnston, 2000). This generalization is known as the what is beautiful is good stereotype.

While the most common finding in the selection literature is that unattractive applicants are rated less favourably than attractive applicants, some studies have results counter to the beautiful is good hypothesis. Some evidence suggests that when the position being applied for is traditionally filled by a male, the reverse of the typical bias is found for female applicants: Attractive females are evaluated less favourably than unattractive females. Heilman and Saruwatari (1979) labelled this the beauty is beastly effect. Cash, Gillen and Burns (1977) also demonstrated the beauty is beastly effect when they had professional personnel consultants evaluate resumes for traditionally masculine, feminine and neutral jobs. For neutral jobs, attractive applicants were preferred over unattractive applicants. Attractive applicants were also rated as more qualified than unattractive applicants when applying for sex-role-congruent employment (i.e., masculine jobs for males and feminine jobs for females). Attractive people are perceived to be happier, more sociable and more successful than unattractive individuals (Dion et al. 1972; Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani and Longo 1991). Attractive, as compared to unattractive, individuals are judged more highly on academic tasks, are treated more generously when grades are assigned and receive more support. Clifford and Walster (1973), demonstrated that teachers expected physically attractive children to have greater academic potential and better social relationships with their peers than unattractive children with identical report card. Various studies have been done to understand the reason of bias and to mitigate the effect of such biases in employee selection process.The results of studies using bogus resumes and applicants of varying attractiveness clearly point to the potential for discrimination in hiring on the basis of physical attractiveness (Cash, Gillen and Burns 1977). Attractive candidates have been found to be perceived as more qualified for employment than unattractive candidates (Cash et al. 1977) and they were recommended higher starting salaries. This effect of attractiveness is only pronounced, however, at lower qualification levels. It would appear that attractiveness can compensate for poor application quality but if the quality of an application is high, attractiveness has no additional impact.

Details of Study
In this section, we will discuss the details of the study. We will try to answer the questions like What do we want to achieve out of the study?, How is this study relevant in current industrial scenario?, How do we intend to conduct the study and details about participants of the study etc.

Objectives of Study
Industrial psychologist and management researchers have long attempted to detect and eliminate biases in personnel selection for different roles. Because of all these studies there are regulations to prevent biases like marital status, religion, color, race or nationality. Despite this long list, physical attractiveness and its impact on the evaluation of job application has not been studied much. That is why we decided to do a study on this topic and tried to find out if there is any effect of this parameter. The two main objective of our study is: To study the effect of personal characteristics like Attractiveness, Gender, Race on the mind of interviewer; and To understand the role of Human resource management to mitigate the effect of such discriminations.

Importance of Study
In most of the jobs, physical appearance is unrelated to job performance and hence any bias toward physically attractive job application represents discrimination. But to err is human, and so we cannot neglect the fact that there can be some discrimination, without any study. Moreover, the study becomes more important because most of the candidates generally try to build a good knowledge base for the interview. They do not understand the importance of physical appearance and by this study we will try to make them aware of the biases, if any.

Methodology of Survey
In this section, we will discuss the details of participants and the methodology we used to conduct out survey.
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Participants We conducted the survey for 126 samples. While conducting the survey, proper care has been taken to get a good demographic mix of respondents. To get a proper result we have taken responses from people who have worked or are working in software industry. This is done because the job application which we used for our survey is of fresh computer engineering graduates. Some of the responses have been taken from IIM Lucknow students also. We have also tried to get a mix of respondents who were and were not involved in the recruitment process of their company. The respondents can be categorized on the basis of following factors: Age-wise categorization: Proper care was taken to keep the sample of young age to understand the actual effect of physical attractiveness. Most of our respondents are in the range of 15 35 years of age. The figure below shows the age variation:

Figure 1: Age-wise variation of respondents

Gender Variation: The respondents also show some variation in terms of gender. Most of the respondents of the survey are males, but specials efforts have been made to also include female respondents in the study.

Figure 2: Gender wise variation in respondents

Education Background: The education background of our respondents varies from University level education to Postgraduate students in various streams such as pure sciences, Engineering, Management students etc. The variation has been brought to nullify the effect of any specific education background.

Figure 3: Education background wise variation of respondents

Involvement in Recruitment Process: Almost 50% of our respondents have been involved in the recruitment process in their organizations. This has provided credibility to our study because opinion of people involved in the recruitment have been included. This will give us a true picture of actual effect of physical attractiveness in resume screening process.

Figure 4: Categorization of respondents on the basis of their involvement in the recruitment process

Measures A job profile of an entry level software engineer was picked up from Naukri.com and used in the survey. We asked respondents to assume their position as a recruiter and rate the job applicants for the given job profile on a 10 point scale, 1 being least suitable to 10 being most suitable. Every respondent was asked to rate two resume, one of which was a good quality resume and other one was an average quality resume. Procedure The data has been collected by creating ten online questionnaires. For this, we have used a free online survey site http://www.my3q.com. The site saves the responses online letting the surveyor access the data. This data can then be directly used for analysis.

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The questionnaires have been emailed to people and data has been collected online based on their responses. With this study we tried to find out the effect of physical appearance and gender on the mind of recruiter while screening the resume. We made different combinations possible on the basis of above parameters. Table 1 shows the list of all such possible combinations.
Gender Physical Attractiveness M M F F M M M M M F Very Attractive Very Attractive Very Attractive Very Attractive Very Attractive Very Attractive Average Average No Photo No Photo Resume Quality Very Good Average Very Good Average Very Good Average Very Good Average Very Good Very Good M M F F F F F F M F Gender Physical Attractiveness Average Average Average Average Very Attractive Average Very Attractive Average No Photo No Photo Resume Quality Average Very Good Average Very Good Average Very Good Average Very Good Average Average

Vs

Table 1: Different combinations of resume which were compared

For instance first row of the table shows that a respondent had to rate resumes of two males. One of the profile was very good (strong academics and strong extra-curricular achievements) along with an attractive physical appearance, and other was an average profile (average academics and very few extra-curricular achievements) along with average looks. In total, we had 10 such combinations and we collected 15 or more responses for each of the combination. None of the respondents had to respond to more than one combination. This was done because, by rating multiple combinations respondent could have understood the motive of our study. This could have resulted in some kind of biasness in the answers. After collecting the
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responses we have taken average of all the responses, which tells us the average rating given to a resume (with or without photograph, which can be attractive or average).

Results & Findings


In the section, we will discuss the result of our survey. We will show the ratings of Good Resume: Male & Female and Average Resume: Male and Female when compared with various other combinations.

Good Resume: Male


In this section, we will show the various average ratings that we received for Good quality resume of a male candidate. In the survey, this male candidate was rated by respondents under various conditions such as: No photograph: Resume contained no photograph of the male and his resume was sent along with an Average Resume of another male candidate without photograph. The average rating given to the candidate was 7 out of 10. Attractive vs. Average Male: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive male and was sent along with an average quality resume of a male with average physical attractiveness. The rating given to the candidate was 6.44 on a scale of 10. Attractive vs. Attractive Female: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive male and was sent along with an average quality resume of a female with attractive features. The rating given to the candidate was 7.25 on a scale of 10. Average vs. Attractive Female: This resume was sent with a photograph of an average features male and was sent along with an average quality resume of an attractive female. The rating given to the candidate was 6.17 on a scale of 10. The figure below shows the above result in a bar graph format.

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Figure 5: Comparing average rating of a male with good resume under various conditions

Good Resume: Female


In this section, we will show the average ratings that we received for Good quality resume of a female candidate under various conditions: No photograph: Resume contained no photograph of the female and her resume was sent along with an Average Resume of another female candidate without photograph. The average rating given to the candidate was 7.93 out of 10. Attractive vs. Average Female: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive female and was sent along with an average quality resume of a female with average physical attractiveness. The rating given to the candidate was 7.77 on a scale of 10. Average vs. Attractive Male: Resume contained a photograph of an average female and was sent along with an average quality resume of an attractive male. The candidate received an average rating of 6 on a scale of 10.

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Average vs. Attractive Female: This resume was sent with a photograph of an average features female and was sent along with an average quality resume of an attractive female. The rating given to the candidate was 7.9 on a scale of 10.

The figure below shows the above result in a bar graph format.

Figure 6: Comparing average rating of a female with good resume under various conditions

Average Resume: Male


In this section, we will show the average ratings that we received for an average quality resume of a male candidate under various conditions: No photograph: Resume contained no photograph of the male and his resume was sent along with a Good quality Resume of another male candidate without photograph. The average rating of the candidate was 6.2 out of 10. Attractive vs. Average Male: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive male and was sent along with a good quality resume of a male with average physical attractiveness. The rating given to the candidate was 6.07 on a scale of 10.
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Attractive vs Average Female: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive male and was sent along with a good quality resume of a female with average physical attractiveness. The candidate received an average rating of 7.25 on a scale of 10.

Average vs. Attractive Male: This resume was sent with a photograph of a male with average features and was sent along with a good quality resume of an attractive male. The rating given to the candidate was 5.86 on a scale of 10.

The figure below shows the above result in a bar graph format.

Figure 7: Comparing average rating of a male with average resume under various conditions

Average Resume: Female


In this section, we will show the average ratings that we received for an average quality resume of a female candidate under various conditions: No photograph: Resume contained no photograph of the female and her resume was sent along with a Good quality Resume of another female candidate without photograph. The average rating of the candidate was 6.34 out of 10.

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Attractive vs. Attractive Male: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive female and was sent along with a good quality resume of a male with attractive features. The rating given to the candidate was 6 on a scale of 10.

Attractive vs Average male: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive female and was sent along with a good quality resume of a male with average physical attractiveness. The candidate received an average rating of 5.67 on a scale of 10.

Attractive vs Average female: Resume contained a photograph of an attractive female and was sent along with a good quality resume of a female with average physical attractiveness. The candidate received an average rating of 6.45 on a scale of 10.

Average vs. Attractive Female: This resume was sent with a photograph of a female with average features and was sent along with a good quality resume of an attractive female. The rating given to the candidate was 5.88 on a scale of 10.

The figure below shows the above result in a bar graph format.

Figure 8: Comparing average rating of a female with average resume under various conditions

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Analysis & Conclusions


In this section, we will analyze the findings of the survey, as discussed in earlier section. We will first have a look at the ratings of male and female resumes without photograph. This will provide a comparative base for further analysis. The table below shows the average ratings of good and average quality resumes of male and female candidates without photograph Good Resume Male 7 Male Average Resume Female 6.34
Table 2: Averaging rating of male and female resumes without photograph

Female

6.2 7.93

We can see that average rating of a good quality Male resume is 7/10, while that of a good quality Female resume is 7.93/10. Similarly rating of an average quality Male resume in 6.2/10 while that of a female resume is 6.34/10. So the rating of female resumes have on an average increased. This provides us the base of our first hypothesis. Hypothesis 1: Resume of female candidates generally receive better ratings than similar quality resume of male candidates. The average ratings as specified in the previous section were not taken in isolation. They were taken under various conditions. Two resumes were sent to each respondent and he was asked to rate them accordingly. We need to understand how average ratings of both the resumes has mattered in presence of other resume. In the table below, we represent average ratings of both male and female candidates under various circumstances. All these ratings are for resumes with photograph.

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Good Resume Attractive Male Attractive Male Average Resume Average Male Attractive Female Average Female 5.88 6 5.86 7.25 5.67 7.77 6.17 6.45 7.9 6.44 6.071 Average Male 6.93 7.25 Attractive Female Average Female 6

Table 3: Average rating of candidates with resumes with photographs

In the above table, we can see ratings deviating from the ratings of resumes without photograph. For eg, the case with (Average Male, Good Resume) vs. (Attractive Male, Average Resume), the rating of Good resume has changed to 6.93 from 7 and the rating of average resume has changed to 6.07 from 6.2. But, the meaning of various readings do not become very clear here, as the resumes are subjected to bias of the group. Some groups have been generally rated resumed low compared to others. We therefore need to normalize our data. In the next part, we will discuss the data after normalization.

Normalized Data

We normalized all the ratings to make a clear comparison. To normalize the data, we scaled up ratings of all male candidates with good resume to 7. The ratings of average quality resume was scaled according to the equation:
Normalized Rating (Average Resume) = Rating of Average resume x 7/Rating of Good Resume

Similarly, the data for female candidates was normalized. The ratings of all female candidates with good resume were scaled up to 7.93. The average quality resume was scaled according to the above equation. The table below shows the normalized ratings of all the candidates.
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Good Resume Attractive Male Attractive Male Average Resume Average Male Attractive Female Average Female 6.0 5.8 6.37 7 6.43 7.93 7 6.45 7.93 7 6.13 Average Male 7 9.6 Attractive Female Average Female 7.93

Table 4: Normalized rating of candidates with resumes with photographs

Consider the box of (Average Male, Good Resume) vs (Attractive Female, Average Resume). The rating of average resume has increased to 6.43 from 6.34 in the case of without photograph. All the shaded boxes show such kind of slight changes in ratings of average resume in presence of good photograph. This brings us to another hypothesis. Hypothesis 2: The ratings of average quality resumes improves in presence of good quality photographs. The improvement in ratings may not be huge, but a slight improvement has been observed. We can also see that in case of comparison with female candidates, the change in ratings in relatively huge. For eg. Consider the box (Average Female, Good Resume) vs. (Attractive Male, Average Resume). The rating of average resume has drastically improved in presence of a female with average physical attractiveness. Hypothesis 3: In case of female candidates, the changes in resume ratings are relatively larger compared to that in case of male candidates. The findings of the study have serious implications in industry as physical features of candidates do create bias among recruiters and hence can lead to erronous recruitments. In the next section, we will have a look at various steps that can be taken to mitigate the effect of physical attractiveness in resume screening or candidate recruitment.

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Recommendations
Physical attractiveness can have a significant effect on how people are judged, in terms of employment or social opportunities, friendship, and marriage .In many cases, we all attribute positive characteristics, such as intelligence , honesty, extroversion , happiness and prosperity to attractive people without consciously realizing it. Based on our survey and our findings we recommend the following suggestions: 1) Ask for photograph only when required: At the screening phase of the selection process , information regarding an applicants physical attractiveness (i.e. , a

photograph ) should not be requested unless it can be justified as a job relevant factor ( modeling , air-hostess etc ) . This will ensure that people with strong applications and resume will proceed to the next stage of evaluation that may include one to one interview. At the interview stage, it is the appearance of confidence that people find attractive, not the mere presence of physical beauty. In addition, we content that attractiveness has more to do with how you carry yourself and the energy you exude, rather than having perfect features or a great physique. The characteristics of this evaluation stage ensure that anyone can increase their attractiveness to others if they are thorough about their job, maintain a good eye contact, act upbeat, dress well and listen well. 2) Provide training to managers/recruiters: Raising the awareness of recruiters to the influence on decision-making factors such as physical attractiveness would be the first step in reducing such biases. Group discussion and training workshops are effective procedures for decreasing the halo errors in performance appraisal ratings. Organizations should involve their hiring managers in discussions about the beauty bias. Raise their awareness. Then put a rigorous interview process in place, one that reflects an appreciation for the different levels of appraisal that are involved in any job interview. To help managers overcome their tendency to trust gut instinct, help them with very good behavioral based interviewing. It is a great way to prompt the kind of questions that can provide solid information about the past performance of a candidate.
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3) Consider a team approach: In addition to the hiring manager, it is helpful to involve a peer or coworker and another level of management in the hiring process. This small team of interviewers can help build a team that is both diverse and cohesive, and creates "buy in" from everyone involved in the process. 4) Create and document clear job requirements: One of the best ways to overcome the beauty bias is to specify explicit job requirements. That makes it much easier for the hiring manager to refer to the specifics throughout the interview - and to stay away from the more personal aspects. The creation and documentation of job requirements can have broad impact, making it possible for the organization to build a culture of top performers. This is solid strategy for companies that are serious about achieving workforce alignment, driving productivity and attracting people who create the most value for their organization.
5) Provide strong assessment tools: Strong assessment tools determine whether there is

a good "fit" for the job and for corporate culture. The results of assessment tests can help the hiring manager take the most objective measurement of a candidate's abilities. Reminding hiring managers that these initial assessments can be very useful later on, after the person is hired , for individual development and organizational growth.

Limitations of Study
Our study suffers from following limitations: Small Sample size: 10 surveys were conducted, one for each combination. For each survey, we collected around 15 responses. The number of responses collected are not conclusive enough. Disguised Study: Care was taken to disguise the study, so that respondents do not come to know about the intention of study. But still the possibility of respondents becoming aware of the intention of study cannot be ruled out. This can generate erroneous results. Lack of female respondents: Proportion of female respondents was very low in the sample. Hence the ratings of male candidates could not be judged properly on the basis of physical attractiveness.
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Scope of Further Work


The study can be extended further to consider various other factors. Considering the age factor: The study can be further extended to consider the factor of age and how physical attractiveness matters for old aged people. Considering the experience factor: The study can be further extended to consider work experience and how it influenced ratings of various candidates. Disguised Study: Survey can be created to conduct a disguised survey, so that respondents do not come to know about the objective of study. Survey can also be spaced over time to eliminate any possibility of bias. Exploring the candidates side: The study can also be extended to understand what exactly candidates with average features do to remove the effect of bias on their application. What improvements can they bring in themselves or their application? Our study and collected results clearly demonstrate the effect of attractiveness on recruitment and job selection. This is unfair discrimination and the role of HR in any organization is to mitigate the effects of the same in organizations. Measures should be taken to ensure equal opportunities to all prospective employees and to enable hiring managers take more

objective decisions for the welfare of the organization.

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Bibliography
Dipboye, R. L., Arvey, R. D., & Terpstra, D. E. (1977). Sex and physical attractiveness of raters and applicants as determinants of resume evaluations. Journal of Applied Psychology , 288-294. Lookism. (2007). Retrieved January 26, 2008, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lookism M., W. L., & Lucy, J. (2000). Screening Job Applicants: The Impact of Physical Attractiveness and Application Quality. International Journal of Selection And Assessment , 76-84. Online Experimente. (2007, August 7). Retrieved January 20, 2008, from University of Regensburg: http://www.uni-regensburg.de/ Physical Attractiveness. (2007, January 29). Retrieved January 25, 2008, from Wikioedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_attractiveness Shahani-Denning, & Comila. (2003). Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring: What Is Beautiful Is Good. Department of Psychology, Hofstra University. The beauty bias: Physical attractiveness and the hiring process. (2006, June). Retrieved January 22, 2008, from Ceridian Connection: http://www.ceridian.com/myceridian/connection/ Tietje, L., & Cresap, S. (2005). Is Lookism unjust?: The ethics of Aesthetics and Public Policy Implications. Journal of Liberation Studies , 31-50.

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Appendix
Photographs Used
Average Male Attractive Male

Average Female

Attractive Female

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Good Quality Resume

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Average Quality Resume

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Job Profile
Job Function: IT/Telecom - Software Specialization: Application Programming, Client Server, ERP/CRM, Internet/E-commerce Industry: IT-Software Qualification: School & Graduation - Any Graduate Experience: 0 -1 Level: Entry Level/Fresher Location: MAHARASHTRA (Mumbai) Key Skills: Java, EjB, J2EE, J2ME, Web Services, AJAX, XML, SOAP, MySQL/SQL

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Sample Survey
Suitability of job applicants Please assume your position as a recruiter and rate the job applicants for the below job profile on scale of 1 10, 1 being least suitable to 10 being most suitable. This rating will be used for academic purpose only. Job Profile : Job Function: IT/Telecom - Software Specialization: Application Programming, Client Server, ERP/CRM, Internet/E-commerce Industry: IT-Software Qualification: School & Graduation - Any Graduate Experience: 0 -1 Level: Entry Level/Fresher Location: MAHARASHTRA (Mumbai) Key Skills: Java, EjB, J2EE, J2ME, Web Services, AJAX, XML, SOAP, MySQL/SQL

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1 Please rate the job applicant for the above job profile. (1 - least suitable, 10 - most suitable)

10

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Please rate the job applicant for the above job profile. (1 - least suitable, 10 - most suitable)

10 30

Your name

Your age 15 - 25 years 35 years and above 25 - 35 years

Your Email address

Your education level Primary University Secondary High School

Postgraduate please specify:

Your gender Male Female

Name of the organization you work for

Your designation 31

10

Have you ever been involved in recruitment process? Yes No

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