Who gets hired?

Who gets hired: Why employers select one candidate over another

Peter Harris|

A new survey of over 2,000 hiring managers has turned up some unexpected factors that can determine which candidates get hired most often. It’s not all about your skills and experiences.

While, of course, your qualifications to actually do the job are essential for being hired, it turns out that many employers also look at numerous other, less practical attributes when selecting a candidate. Having a good sense of humour can give a candidate a 27% better chance of being hired. Being better dressed than the other candidates boosts your odds of landing the gig by 22%.

For this survey employers were asked, if they were considering two candidates with the same credentials, which factors would influence them to choose one candidate over the other.

Here’s what they said:

  • The candidate with the better sense of humor – 27%
  • The candidate who is involved in his or her community – 26%
  • The candidate who is better dressed – 22%
  • The candidate who the interviewer has more in common with – 21%
  • The candidate who is more physically fit – 13%
  • A candidate who can discuss current affairs and pop culture trends – 8%
  • A candidate who is more connected in social media – 7%
  • A candidate who knows about sports – 4%


The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in May and June of 2013 included 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals from across industries.

Of course, another recent survey indicates that it could all come down to your shoes. This study conducted on behalf of Allen Edmonds (admittedly, a shoemaker) shows that hiring managers are taking a look at candidate’s shoes, and particularly in the case of younger males, they aren’t impressed with what they see.

For this study, more than 1,000 professional men and women were surveyed this spring. While 80% of hiring managers indicated that a candidate’s shoes are “extremely important”, they find that only 51% of young male candidates wear appropriate shoes to a job interview.

Similarly, only 44% of male executives and 54% of female executives think that young men are wearing appropriate footwear to formal business meetings. Managers explained that shoes are indicators of more than just fashion sense, but that they speak to a candidate’s attention to detail, confidence and cultural fit. All of which are essential to getting hired. (We’ve said it before, you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.)

What both of these studies have in common is the reminder to candidates that while your resume will land you a job interview, it’s the interview that gets you the job. And at the job interview, employers are assessing more than your credentials. They’re selecting a person who will become a part of their team’s daily lives, so details about personality and fit really matter.

Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter

Category: Job interviews, Student
  • Wanda Griffith

    I would be very interested to find out what employers look for in
    screening process of Resume’s; what are deciding factors in getting
    selected for interviews? I have been looking for secure employment for a
    yr and half and most employers do not even acknowledge your
    application. It really bothers me when you spend 1/2- 1 1/2 hrs on
    applying and filling out their applications and questions pertaining to
    position and you never hear from them :(

    • Aj

      Guess you dont want to know that: often; there’s not even a “real” job opening, and that they’re just banking resumes with that technique hu.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobby-Monson-Douglas/1260592633 Bobby Monson Douglas

        Save-On-Foods is really bad for that. They very regularly have ‘we’re hiring’ type signs and they post on employment sites. But they are only ‘ banking resumes’, collecting resumes for when they really need to hire people.

        • Louis Castor

          Employment agencies are the worst for that.

        • Darcy Hudjik

          That’s so true, Bobby.

    • Leah Sweeney

      I would like to know that too, but in my small town where I come from the women who get the best jobs are one who are younger, more attractive that look like models. Only secure job I could find was part-time cashier work in a grocery store, which I have been doing for last 17 years, then I developed osteoarthritis in my knees from standing for long periods of time; I have been looking for work where I can apply my office administration skills. I did something risky recently. After I found out about a place looking for a permanent, full-time receptionist, I put references on my resume as per their request and, get this, I mentioned the fact that I was hoping to find this type of work after being diagnosed with the osteoarthritis and was hoping they would take that info into consideration as well as my background and experience because of my office experience.

    • sunbeamcatcher

      Employers hire based not on your skills but personal connections that can benefit them one way or the other. For example – if you are sleeping with their personal banker you have super connection and will be hired. If you are honest, have great skills and suitable work experience don’t bother. They care not about any of it.

      • Steve

        Most jobs you see now you can’t drop your resume off to their place of business. They all want it online. Now big business like Home Depot and Wal mart you have to fill out this survey/questionnaire. It is getting harder and harder to get a job let alone keeping one. When you get hired, they call your position “part time” but you work full time hours. WTF?

        • Darcy Hudjik

          Sadly Steve, the work force is going more digital, and if we want to keep pace with it, we must adapt.

    • Louis Castor

      Next time mention that you’re an obese, lesbian black woman with a limp.

    • Bruce Clagg

      Within 3 to 7 seconds: Your market brand (what/whom you are professionally) portable skills and portable achievements that I could utilize well to promote corporate growth and increase profit. THAT will get you through their “skim” and perhaps they will read enough to call you for an interview. If not, follow-up weekly for two weeks. Follow-ups gain more interviews than the original submission. Send to the person with the job title of your future boss, even if the position is posted (easy to find on Linkedin – Advanced tab) Happy 2016!!

  • Tigger59

    So I guess I must tell a joke to ensure I’ll be hired. Been there. Done that. I’ve laughed at the interviewer’s humor. Still nothing. I still think the preferred candidate must be 25-35, attractive and have some (not most) of the skills required. Anyone 40+ with most of the skills, if they make to the interview, will never get the job.

    • nick

      I’m 44 and just got a new job with most of the skills required

      • Guest

        And you are a male, right? Applying to predominantly male environment?

        • smscamp

          With affirmative action/employment equity laws/job quotas giving hiring preference to women, even in jobs today that have become female dominated, Nick was very lucky he got the job in such circumstances, especially being 44, where the social engineers do not wish to acknowledge any ageism in the hiring process

        • nick

          It’s not a predominantly male environment, it’s an office job.

    • Tessa

      Tigger59 – very true. Once you reach 40 its very hard to find a job and after 50 next to impossible. I lost my job over 4 years ago and I’ve put out at least 500 applications and resumes and I’ve had 3 job interviews over the years and didn’t get any of the jobs. I’ve got good administrative and computer skills, good sense of humor, very reliable, get along well with others, and I can’t get hired and I’m just over 50 now. Even the last company I worked at they rarely hired anyone over age 30, so age discrimination is alive and well in Canada no matter how hard hiring managers deny it. I’ve even tried applying for minimum wage jobs, that’s how desperate I am, anything just to get some income rolling in and I still don’t get a call back to come in for an interview. I’ve gotten sneaky with my resume, only list the last 3 employers I had in 20 years hoping that at worst the person looking at the resume thinks I’m only around 40 years old and even that age is a deal breaker.

      • Rianna

        So true and very sad. My friend had worked at TD for almost 30 yrs but took an early retirement to care for her ailing father and then had to return to working after he passed away and now is finding it impossible to find work despite her experience and very good pc skills and knowledge.

      • What ever

        I agree with your post 100%.

      • Jane

        Yes its the same for me Tessa! I used to get great jobs and Im now 49. I rarely get called for an interview and then it doesnt go any further. But all my life I got the job and excelled so it must be my age. I am highly skilled as well….

  • Bowe Campbell

    Shoes? What a load of shit! People are so quick to judge another on their attire instead of paying attention to what really matters. This article makes me sick!! Now I realize why I work for a bunch of idiots, assholes and morons. No wonder this world is going in the toilet if all we can focus on is clothing to see if you will be the right fit for a job. Pathetic!!!

  • Judy Jensen

    In the end, I believe that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, to get in the door anywhere these days!

    • sunbeamcatcher

      Definitely yes. A recruiter for a government agency once told me that the only resumes that make to the top of the pile are the ones from people she knows personally. She encouraged networking (I know it is not easy at all) and developing relationships with the “right” people.

    • Peter

      That is gospel. :)

    • Maco

      No doubt about that for sure!

    • Steve

      So SO SO right on that one. Try to get a city job and you will see.

  • Raju

    Some things not to forget
    This survey doesn’t prove anything for a specific group of professional, this is a general survey.
    Screening resume is just not the good way of hiring the best candidate, so most of the hiring managers fail in that part. Telephonic interviews give nothing but a short introduction.
    If it is not FACE-TO-FACE, then it is not an interview. How can one promise that they hired a better candidate. It is always a risk and it will always stay as a risk.

  • as400rus

    During my quest for jobs, I, consistently, discovered that East Indian recruiters are the worst of all head hunters. They do not have decency and courtesy to send back at least one liner so indicate or give a heads up. They are not trained well and perpetually ask in North America your age. Its very discouraging for a prospective candidate. Suggestion go to a Caucasian recruiter, as majority of them respond one way or the other. My personal 2 Cents worth in this line.

    • sunbeamcatcher

      These people are are also worst employers – never met an honest or a fair one so far.

      • Peter

        I am kind of neutral on that. I think it is basically human nature, people will push as far as you let them.

      • Jane

        and how about the arabs!

    • Peter

      Well, I have had similar experiences with Caucasians and East Indians as well. The competition is just too much.

    • smscamp

      Some of them are still in the caste system culture where there is plenty of arrogance and looking down on the “unwashed”, but they get away with it because of fear of being labeled racist for objecting to such disrespect and arrogance like one would toward a similar unpleasant member of his/her own culture

    • Jane

      French people deal the best with people over 40 in my opinion. Also if you live in quebec you are respected more as a woman the older you are. People even give their seats up for you on the buses, and Im talking girls as young as 16!

  • whiskyisgood

    Wow a survey where the total % adds up to 128% rather than 100%. Does job hunting requires no math skills or is the person who wrote this drivel in way over their head?

    • sunbeamcatcher

      It is called “hope for the masses” – just like religion.

    • Blues

      that’s because you’re allowed to choose more than one option. Go sign up for a statistics class silly.

      • Peter

        good one :)

    • Sticky Fingers

      Does it need to add up to 100 – or could it be that the number/percentage of responders to the individual question

  • Krishan Khurana

    Even if not the same credentials, above factors would still have an influence.

  • Annie Beaulac Dalmas

    Physically fit should have no bearing on the process unless the job requires physical fitness.

  • Kelly

    Yeah, I applied to about 45 jobs this past summer and received nothing. Employers don’t know how to treat employee’s or potential employee’s. They are just concerned about making money, the business itself and.. making money

    • Steve


  • smscamp

    What is really disturbing is that appropriate footwear is more of a factor than work attitude, particularly working with others, which could be further tested if two applicants are the same.

    It seems a lot of these hiring personal are judging people based on what they would prefer as a date/soulmate, than a potential employee.

    • Peter Pottinger

      You hit the nail on the head, interviews are job dates :p

    • martin f

      I once didn’t get the job, after four interviews, because i wore the wrong color socks! That was the reason given.

      • Jane

        I once obtained a FT position and my boss told me the reason she hired me was because I couriered her a follow-up thank you letter on PINK PAPER, and pink was her favourite color!!

  • Lilian Lai

    I’m 24. Female. went to Herbal Magic interview last week in Toronto. In the beginning the manager told me the interview was only for 60-90 min. I went there. After 90 min non-stop talking and testing, manager led me meet his boss without giving me a break. His boss just asked exactly same questions as he asked. Since questions are same I answered the same things with little more creative thoughts. After I came back, I prepared all my references for a whole afternoon and emailed my thankfulness to him. But he quickly replied my email saying my second part of the interview answers were bad, so he didn’t want me to go for another interview. I was very upset but questioned him, “Looking at a person’s whole life from a 3rd person’s perspective vs. getting to know a person by listening to his own words within just two hours (and you know how these words can be prepared), which one do you think is more objective?” He failed to answer me.


    Most of jobs that are posted are phony employers just want to see who come in the frontdoor.For every one job opening,you have at lease 7 or more people applying.

  • Tyrone Jones

    Just curious for those of you that don’t have a job, did any of you hold a degree?

    I noticed many grads have been really desperate and will take jobs that are minimum or a little over minimum wage. This makes it even tougher for those who did not do any post graduate programs. I feel the connections is more important than anything because many decent jobs will have 100+ applications.

    I currently am employed due to my internship experience and the connections I have made on those internships.

    • Alison Luckett

      Yes indeed! Connections would appear to be important as they always have been and will be, most likely. I have always relied on my own merits, for better for worse!

    • smscamp

      Sadly some jobs state “applicants must always have a university degree”, even if it is not in the field of the job.

      Thus, for a Managerial position, someone with 10 years Managerial experience, but no degree will not be able to apply, but someone with a Liberal Arts degree will.

      All because some HR personal only want to hire their own university educated kind because they have been indoctrinated into the theory that anyone with a university degree is autmatically more qualified than someone who does not have one

      • Jane

        This is my problem. I only have college. But I came 3rd in my class. When I went to high school people could excel and work up the ladder with just a college diploma as most new skills were acquired on the job and there was alot of opportunity in the 80s…now in my field, they no longer hire someone who only has college with experience, they will hire a young person with a degree unrelated OR someone close to my age with a masters degree unrelated. But the person they should be hiring is someone trained in the field, who has done all the jobs in that line of work, and has at least 5 years experience. I am certified in health records management, medical transcription and coding.

  • Alison Luckett

    Many people attending interviews are probably not in a position to be able to afford ‘good’ clothes. If a person is neat, clean and tidy and suitably attired, it should not make a difference to the prospective employer. It is not a popularity contest. How expensive or new the clothes are should not sway the interviewer’s opinion. if it does then he or she is pretty superficial. Shoes cost money and sneakers, although not really appropriate, admittedly, may be the only shoes the person owns. If a person is after a job which only pays $10 per hour, he or she is not going to invest $80 or whatever it takes on shoes. This is a valid point which needs to be taken into consideration.

    • nick

      In an ideal world where employment agencies are run by Care Bears, people have pet unicorns and we get paid in hugs, this would be the case…….but that’s not the world we live in, people judge you in the first 5 minutes based entirely on how you look. People might not b able to afford ‘good’ clothes but everyone can afford to turn up clean and pressed. My interview “outfit” was from Winners, it took a lot of rummaging to get the entire thing for under $50, but it looked smart enough and gave the right impression, that I was serious enough about wanting the job to put a clean shirt and tie on.

    • schnabel

      Do you really want to work for someone who judges you on footwear rather than take the time to ask thoughtful questions?

  • Jobless_and_Jaded

    Should I just give up on trying to get a job? I’m 59, female, grey-haired and I’m fat. I have skills and experience. I’ve upgraded my computer skills and do volunteer work. I have been out of work for three years and I’ve had very few interviews. I’ve done just about everything I can think of to get a job. I was fired for getting type 2 diabetes and thyroid cancer within the last eight months of my 16 years of employment at the same company. Should I just go bankrupt and end up on the street?

  • Stranger

    Job searching is difficult for all, not just those 40+. Why then is the Canadian stats for 18-24 the highest unemployed people in the country. But there are some thing that are still common sense when it comes to job searching. The resume simply gets you the interview, so it has to be good. Rule #1…don’t use same resume for all jobs applied for. Personalize it a bit to the position. Rule #2…use key words. Nobody actually reads resumes anymore. They don’t ask that your resume be in MSWord or pdf for no reason…they want to do word searches, and if your resume has many of the key words they used in their posting, your resume will climb to the top of the pile. I worked 13 years for the same company and then was layed off. I applied for about 400 jobs that I was well qualified for or over-qualified for. After 5 months, and 4 interviews with the same company, I was hired. Do a bit of research on the company. Visit their website, know a bit of what you are going to be tested on. I don’t know if this helps, but I walked into the interview with 12 Diplomas/Certificates/Awards…etc. I also had 3 binders of hard-copies and a flash-drive of Training Courses I created, and presented. Basically, I wanted to prove that what my resume said was the truth. This brings up another important fact. Most people lie on their resumes. Finally, when you get the interview, be confident. I this is the most important factor. Confidence in yourself being the BEST for the job, confidence through your clothes, and your demeanor. You can even joke that they won’t find anyone better than you, so they can end their search immediately. I secured a job after 5 months making $14,000 more than my previous job. Now I am border 6 figure salary, and I’m 50. It’s all about what you show, and I think confidence is the most important factor. Smile, even on the phone, dress well, and let them know you’re the BEST.

    • TomG..

      Finally a helpful comment. Thank you stranger.

    • Jane

      400,000 TFWs a year into canada taking their jobs away and massive immigration…..

    • Jane

      TFWs take all the jobs that they should be getting (and immigrants who move here). If you look back in Canada’s history in the 1970s, there was little youth unemployment and 3% on welfare, yet we had a less educated workforce then.

  • nick

    “Similarly, only 44% of male executives and 54%
    of female executives think that young men are wearing appropriate
    footwear to formal business meetings.” – is the entire business community obsessed with employees shoes ?

  • Jill Patricia Lyons

    I choose “C”… it is another gobblety goop topic…
    there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to this other than the whims of
    the interviewers… it gives me the creeps… be yourself, don’t be yourself…
    be humorous, don’t be humorous… dress well, don’t dress well… if they like
    you they will hire you… if they really need someone and you are in the right
    place at the right time they will hire you…

    Do you really want to
    work for them?… I had an interview with someone on casual Friday once and I
    had to have a view of the interviewers cleavage the whole time… I made a
    point of dressing up but she didn’t… another interviewer was out to lunch
    when I arrived… then there are the stupid questions like “What are your
    work habits?”… or “What are your goals?”… like the
    interviewer is somehow going to help you achieve your goals… they shouldn’t
    be allowed to ask questions like that unless we know how they are judging the
    answers… what’s the point of even going on an interview?

    You are in a strange
    place, a strange room, with strange surroundings and strange people while they
    are in a very familiar environment surrounded by familiar people and asking
    questions they have probably asked many people before.

    Often they really want
    one person but convention says they have to interview ten people… so much for
    the time and effort of the nine they already knew they didn’t want…

    Like I said… it is all
    the whims of the interviewers… or something else like they are getting
    government funding for training new employees (like some call centers)… which
    means if you have done a contract with them before you are put on an
    “ineligible for rehire” list even though you were at the top of the
    sales ladder, never late and never missed a day of the contract you
    completed… because they won’t get funding for you the second time around…

    That’s my view anyway…
    and I could go on, and on, and on, and on…

    • Jane

      I went to a job interview in retail a few years back and the person doing the interview wanted to know if I owned my home or rent ? I am pretty certain this is not legal……do you guys know?

  • Colleen Robinson

    What about this business where employers somehow get hold of your facebook page and snoop etc. What does my business on Facebook have anything to do with my professional skills. My facebook persona is my casual persona – I can be professional to a “T” in a job. I think Facebook should be totally off limits to employers. That is what Linked in is for. I have a linked in account and am proud to provide the link on my resume. Facebook – no way. My views on certain things have no bearing on my job at hand. If I don’t believe in certain things – then I won’t apply for jobs that do believe in certain things. I recently re-vamped my resume and cover letter. We shall see how many prospective opportinities i get.

    • Jill Patricia Lyons

      that’s a good point actually… if they are looking at your facebook account and they are doing it during work hours, that means the company is not restricting internet use by the HR department or hiring managers like they are other employees… what is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander

    • Jane

      I completely agree colleen!

  • Leah Sweeney

    Better to research the company to find out what exactly the employer is looking for before disclosing any info about yourself.

  • Monika

    So these shoes do they have to be high healed if you are a woman or are comfy Dr. Scholls’ allowed. I can’t believe it. Do you want a worker or some good looking person. Last time I got told to wear makeup whcih I am allergic to. Guess it was a nice way to say you are ugly. I thought you are supposed to be serious and yet sense of humor ranks up there? I have been applying for work for over two years and am tired of all this internet applications. What happened to hard working individuals getting a job and enough of this kiss ass world. No wonder everyone is homeless.

  • Emerson

    Wow just think how the the companies profit could go if they actually had people who would hire on company needs,Well what’s for lunch?

  • Guest

    If you are female and flirt well you should do well. My husband was passed over for a much earned promotion at Home Depot because the interviewer liked a young female candidate who wears skin tight jeans to work. And no,the woman had no other real skills and as he worked with her every day he knows that.

    • Jane

      This happens every day!

  • Ricktopher

    And you know this because you know what skills the other person had?

  • therimisrolled

    Discrimination is commonplace even in Canada. No question, period.

  • smscamp

    Agree, we have even legalized it with no white guys need apply employment equity laws

  • Jane

    Well is she is older, its obvious she would have alot more experience than the 27 year old younger girl!

  • Maco

    Yeah…, right! That’s why the police force, emergency services and fire fighters and the judiciary (amongst others!) are all overwhelmingly made up of white boys….

  • Maco

    Yeah…., right! In your dreams…..

  • smscamp

    Many women do not wish to apply to these physically demanding positions, and many are being hired for simply for being women.

    Why do I state this?

    I have seen too many short women in this positions, where the male equivilant would never meet the height requirement.

    Furthermore, when it involves female dominated jobs, you never see EE job quotas for men, but only interview quotas for men in a very few such as elementary school teachers

  • therimisrolled

    Some will say that the reason they work in police is because they couldn’t find work elsewhere. I notice that statement has also applied to bus drivers in comments.

  • Rianna

    Have ya been to a Gov’t office? How many whites do u see there? How many of them can speak english well?

  • Jane

    That would be because they have been here for centuries!

  • smscamp

    Maybe it is time to stop such dreaming and get this ageism dealt with, which is more of a factor in not getting a job nowadays than race or gender

  • Rianna

    Fairness must be extended to everyone!

  • therimisrolled

    I once said, “you have to lie to pass” — now I will also say “you have to lie to work.”

  • Jane

    I am well over 40 but most think I look late 30s. I seem to get to the interview stage,but once they see me (depending on the kind of work I am applying for), something strange usually happens. This latest job I went to, the interview went very well, there are 12 applicants for one pt job. I had experience with the skill set (its a scanning job). This was in a medical clinic. I am also a health records manager, medical transcriptionist with 10 years experience and coder of health records. I am pretty certain this lady did not have half of my education and experience, therefore I knew I would not be called for the job. And I was right! Too bad as it was a very friendly place…

  • Rianna

    There needs to be a fifty-fifty quota between whites and non-whites to be fair to everyone. Many non-whites i encounter in jobs that dea with the public either do not speak english plainly or are slightly rude.

  • Steve

    even school teachers. It’s just a job to most of them now. No passion for their jobs anymore. The teachers are gone home as soon as the bell rings and the kids are still hanging around the school yards.

  • Steve

    YA. Question? If a Canadian/USA person went to another country, would the other country let one of us be involved in their government?
    Would the other country change their national anthem because we found it it offensive in some way?
    Just a question…..

  • therimisrolled

    ^^ school teachers are generally required to have done University, with a minimum of 20 upper level University-level courses just to get into Teacher’s College. And being that I’m from Ontario, I also hear the requirement to have 2 “teachable” subjects — I believe those are based on the prerequisite courses for the program in University (they might go back and consider College-level courses for that). But to work in police or as a bus driver, I don’t believe you have to do any post-secondary school to get into the training for it, although some may recommend it.

  • J.R.

    The fact you even mention quotas is messed up.Quotas in themselves discriminate!!

  • http://www.mileshrconsulting.com/ Tmm04

    A ridiculous notion. If the surrounding geographic area is made up of 90% white or 90% non-white, how is it possible to hire 50%-50%? Employment Equity regulations are careful to say the workplace should accurately reflect the surrounding demographic make-up of the geographic area.
    Remember that being fair does not mean equal treatment.
    A little research would be a good idea before you make such sweeping statements.

  • Jane

    Half the east coast which is98% white had to leave and move to bigger centries. What about that discrimination!

  • Jane

    Being fair would be hire canadian born PERIOD,no matter what color and only 10% should go to minorities not born in Canada!

  • Maco

    So what about the First Nations? Surely, if you’re using that logic, they ought to be the ones there? Classic Canadian white supremacist logic…..