Abi Wilkinson | Contributing Writer | Monday, 15 June 2015

Applicants Forced To Pass \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Poshness Tests\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' To Get Top Graduate Jobs

Applicants Forced To Pass 'Poshness Tests' To Get Top Graduate Jobs

The Debrief: Working-class candidates are losing out because of snobbery about their accents, mannerisms and personal style

New research has found that snobbery prevents working-class grads securing jobs at top law, accountancy and finance firms. A study by the government's social mobility and child poverty commission revealed that candidates are being turned down if their accents and mannerisms indicate they are from a less-privileged background.

Recruitment processes at 13 elite companies were investigated for the report. It was found that a massive 70% of jobs offered by these firms in 2014 went to applicants who attended private or selective schools, despite the fact only 11% of the population actually attend such schools.

Counterintuitively, researchers suggest that the expansion of university education could have contributed to a rise in this form of discrimination. Now that a large number of applicants have degrees, employers are focusing on other attributes to decide between them. They found that attributes 'such as personal style, accent and mannerisms' were being interpreted by recruiters as 'proxies for talent'.

Shadow minister for women and diversity Gloria De Piero Tweeted that unofficial 'poshness tests' are a 'glass ceiling' that Labour needs to smash: 


Some working-class people who did manage to get jobs at these companies said they had to hide their background to succeed. 'When I went home… I could go back to, if you like, my old slight twang,' revealed one individual. 'When I'm in this environment I pretend I'm posher than I am.'

One elite recruiter claimed that it's too much effort searching through applications from working-class people, as candidates from privileged backgrounds are much more likely to be suitable. 'Is there a diamond in the rough out there?' they said. 'Statistically it's highly probably but the question is… how much do I have to sift through in that population to find that diamond?'

Another employer talked euphemistically about a particular candidate she recruited lacking 'polish'.

'I've got a lot of clients and a lot of colleagues who are very focused on the personal presentation and appearance side of it,' she explained.

Do you think you've ever been discriminated against by an employer because you weren't considered 'posh' enough? Drop us an email at theteam@thedebrief.co.uk with a brief explanation of what happened.

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