Reasons for Rejecting Candidates: Does the Size of the Ring Count?

Let me start off by saying I have done a great deal of recruiting in my life and I have rejected candidates for many, many reasons. However, I have never, let me repeat that NEVER rejected a candidate based on the size of the engagement ring on her hand. However, apparently others have. I read an article by Katherine Bindley entitled Should Women Wear Engagement Rings To Interviews? where she was reacting to the following statement found on a site called UrbanBaby.

I’ve been a hiring manager for over 5 years, and this is a PSA.  Ladies, when you go in for an interview, please remove your giant diamond rings.  Please.  Many people out there do not share your aesthetics or your cultural values, and the diamond carries a huge stigma for many many individuals.  I work at a non-profit, and when I interview someone who is sporting a huge diamond, I immediately deduct points from that person.  I talked about this with some of my colleagues today, and they feel the same way.  It’s just an unnecessary risk when you interview.  Diamonds are offensive to many many people, so don’t risk it, leave the ring at home.

(Note: The person making this statement later qualified her statement by noting that she works for a non-profit that works with women and children who have been victims of the violence associated with the diamond trade.) Needless to say this statement caused an active and heated discussion. This discussion has focused on whether women should wear “flashy” engagement rings to interviews. A number of women have responded that they have been turned down for jobs and promotions because they did not need them because they were obviously wealthy. From Bindley’s post  “In June, a women who worked at the accounting firm KPMG claimed that when she inquired about how to get a salary bump following her maternity leave, she was told that she didn’t need one because she had a nice engagement ring. Now, she’s suing.”
Karen Katz, a principle from  a large recruiting firm in New York City, was quoted as saying “Unfortunately, it could be perceived as, this person doesn’t really need this job. If they’ve got a ring that size, they don’t need this job.” She said no company would admit to making such  decision, but she said it happens. She said similar decisions are made on other items and she coaches people on not wearing items that distract from the interview.
This is not a new discussion. It used to happen when people got fired too. Decisions were made on “who needed the job” as opposed to who deserved the job decided by the quality of their work. Generally this had a negative outcome for women. This discussion has the same potential impact. Any company that makes decision soley on the basis of what someone has on as apparrel is asking for trouble. Yes I understand that “cultural fit” is important. I too would be inclined to reject a candidate that showed up for an interview in  a clown suit if we were a blue suit type of organiztion. But I would not be inclined to make the determination that someone did not NEED the job just because they showed up wearing an expensive suit, a fine watch or driving a nice car. Their need should not enter into my decision on whether they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job for which I am interviewing them.
The fact that a company makes their decisions on those types of issues, such as ring size, shows a lack of HR leadership, a lack of management training and a total disregard for the law. If you are in HR and allowing these types of decisions then hand in your “badge” you don’t deserve the job. If you are participating in these types of decisions then resign. You are not fit to be in professional HR. If you are in management and making these decisions realize it is a slippery slope you are navigating. Eventually it will catch up to you. Who knows some day someone will say to you that you are too old to do the job, or you have Social Security so you don’t need the job, or whatever.

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