Good-looking university graduates stand a much better chance of securing job interviews as employers perceive them to be brighter and more skilful than their plainer-looking counterparts, a research project has found. The Baptist University study into how attractiveness is related to a person's job prospects found human resources executives 'fall into the trap' of being influenced by good looks when short-listing candidates for a job. The study also indicates that a photograph included in a job application letter can make a difference to the applicant's chances of getting a job. The Baptist University research involved 64 experienced human resources executives who were given application packages of six university graduates supposedly applying for a human resources trainee position. Photographs of the candidates - three males and three females of differing levels of attractiveness as judged by a group of professors - were randomly attached to the packages. The results showed that the candidates' appearance had the strongest correlation with the short-listing outcome, compared with other factors such as examination results. 'It meant good looks were the key factor that determined who would get a job interview,' said Dr Randy Chiu Ki-kwan, head of the university Department of Management who led the research. 'The test was designed to see if human resources executives with years of experience would fall into the trap of good looks, and the results showed they did.' The study also indicated a perception of 'the better-looking, the brighter'. It was found the executives were inclined to believe the more attractive candidates had more job experience and were equipped with more skills. However, the executives showed no tendency to believe that candidates with good looks would have good exam results. 'It is because job experience and skills are more abstract concepts, but exam results are concrete information that can give objective insight into a person's ability,' Dr Chiu said. He said the findings showed the human resources industry should be mindful of any subconscious bias towards good-looking people. 'It goes to show that in the case of many jobs, it is better to short-list candidates without looking at their photos,' he said. Dr Chiu advised young graduates to equip themselves with more skills and take part in more extracurricular activities so they could stand out. Under anti-discrimination codes that took effect in 1998, employers are advised against asking applicants to include a photograph with an application letter. But the Equal Opportunities Commission's codes are not legally binding.