Golf, sailing, or horseback riding - these hobbies will get you the job interview

Golf, sailing, or horseback riding - these hobbies will get you the job interview

Stating the "right" hobbies in your application can have great advantages. After all, they often influence HR officers and managers in the selection of applicants. Unfortunately, this means that social background often plays an unconscious role - further evidence of unfair conditions in personnel selection.

Job seekers who include the right hobbies in their application increase their chances of being hired. This is caused by the usual biases in personnel selection - above all the MiniMe effect and the in-group bias. The MiniMe effect causes us to like hiring people who are similar to us. The in-group bias causes us to feel comfortable in our common group (the sailors, golfers or chess players) and better than members of other groups.

What is particularly difficult about this is that some hobbies imply belonging to a certain social class. Horse riding, for example, is an expensive hobby. Further indications of a higher social class can be, for example, the family name, the elite university attended or, quite banally, the choice of hobby.

Do you like to go golfing in your free time, go sailing on holiday or go to horse-riding competitions at the weekend? Congratulations, you have already drawn a good lot in the lottery of life. And you also enjoy privileges that will have a positive effect on your application, especially if you are male.

Job interview because of elitist hobby?

A study from the USA proves that social background plays a decisive role in the application process. Based on a CV audit, it was found that men with characteristics of a higher social class were invited to an interview for top jobs in law firms significantly more often than other applicants. 

It should also be noted that there are also gender differences. Women from high social classes received fewer invitations than men from the same social classes.

The top jobs pay three to six times higher salaries than other types of employment available to law school graduates. This catapults students to the top of the country's income distribution. (Source: Rivera and Tilcsik (2017): Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market).

Fair candidate selection instead of stereotypes

I could now advise applicants to adjust their hobbies in their CV according to the findings of this study. Or I could again point out that for a fair, diverse and high-quality applicant selection, these characteristics - which are not relevant for job success - should be eliminated as far as possible. After all, the name, the (social) origin or even the choice of hobbies do not provide scientifically valid information about the competences and abilities of an applicant.

Rather, such information provides a breeding ground for stereotypes and unconscious prejudices that lead to discrimination and unfairness in the application process. Therefore, the supreme discipline is and remains anonymisation.

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