When job seeking, you should always present yourself in the best light – and not just metaphorically.
A new study from Loughborough University has found that candidates are more likely to be deemed friendly and competent in a job interview if the interviewers are happy with the light in the room.
Olga Kombeiz and Erik Dietl in the Loughborough School of Business and Economics, are hoping that their findings will contribute to the design of better and fairer work settings in which first impressions are made.
The paper explores how feelings associated with lighting conditions in offices relates to how warm and competent someone is judged to be. The former is characterized by friendliness and trustworthiness, and the latter by intelligence, confidence, and assertiveness.
Two studies were conducted. The first was a laboratory experiment with 161 German university students, and the second was a field study with 175 workers in offices in the United States.
Participants were asked to look at photos of male and female faces with neutral expressions and rate their level of warmth and competence, along with how satisfied they were with the light in the room. The people in the photos had been judged in a previous study to possess ‘medium levels’ of attractiveness, warmth, and competence.
Lights were adjusted to different brightness and colour temperatures during the experiments. Kombeiz and Dietl found in both studies that the more satisfied participants were with the light in the room, the more likely they were to see the faces in the photos as warm and competent.
They concluded that satisfaction with light appears to be related to positive judgements of other people.
Olga Kombeiz said in a statement, “First impressions occur automatically and at least partly subconsciously and may be influenced by factors such as light in the office. Our research contributes to the understanding of how affective processes – satisfaction with light – relate to judgements of others.
“From a practical point of view, this has implications for the design of settings involving the evaluation of other individuals.
“For example, in order to avoid unfair or biased judgements of job applicants, the lighting conditions during a job interview should be the same across all applicants and/or decision-makers should be able to adjust the lighting conditions so that they are satisfied with them.”
She added, “This research underlines the importance of subjective appraisals of our environment. In addition to light, we intend to take a more holistic approach by examining other features of the workplace.”
What can you do about this? Probably nothing. You can’t control the light in a interview setting. And, even if you could, the study authors note that one’s opinion about light is subjective. But if you’re given a choice of where to interview, try to pick somewhere with nice lighting, I guess.