by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 01, 2008

chartFirst visual and mental impressions play important roles in the hiring process, as was found in an online poll conducted recently by M&C. The following results are based on responses of 128 meeting planners who have responsibility for hiring in their departments.

As these respondents made clear, how an interviewee looks has a lot to do with hiring decisions. Candidates with visible body piercings (other than for earrings) and visible tattoos are less likely to get the job, according to 83 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of those who hire. Similarly, people who dress casually for interviews do not have as good a chance at the position (80 percent), nor do those whose cell phones ring during the interview (80 percent).

Of all the attributes listed in the poll, only one -- when candidates use terms like “thought leader,” “out of the box,” “synergy” and “win-win” -- has a significant positive effect on the respondents, with 37 percent of those who hire saying they are more likely to choose such a well-versed applicant.

chartIn this digital age, when it’s easy to find out more about people by putting their names into a search engine, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they do just that. Sixty-three percent of hirers always or sometimes Google applicants. About the same percentage (62) troll online job boards for candidates; popular sites are (36 percent), (27 percent), (21 percent), (14 percent) and (12 percent).

Most respondents (95 percent) said references usually are checked before a job offer is made. About half said their organizations conduct background checks, as well.