hero image
Comila Shahani-Denning - Hofstra University. Hempstead, NY, US

Comila Shahani-Denning

Senior Vice Provost for Academics and Professor of Psychology | Hofstra University


Expert in workplace issues and behavior, hiring practices, leadership development, human resource management





Dr. Comila Shahani-Denning Named Secretary of the NY Metropolitan Assoc. of Applied Psychology loading image


Comila Shahani-Denning  - Sexual Harassment in the Workplace




Comila Shahani-Denning, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University. She has been deeply involved with both the M.A. and doctoral programs since their inception at Hofstra University (1993 for the M.A. and 2004 for the doctoral). Her research expertise lies in the domain of employee selection as it is impacted (enhanced, hindered) by social media, with a particular focus on LinkedIn. Comila and colleagues have since completed further research expanding upon this issue, including several experimental studies examining recruiter perceptions of applicant profiles on LinkedIn. Comila serves on the Executive Board of METRO (Metropolitan Association for Applied Psychologists) and also serves on the Executive Board of COSI (Community of Organizational Sciences in India). Comila teaches in the M. A. and doctoral program. She teaches Research Methods, Industrial Psychology, Personnel Selection, and the Internship Course. She has served as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Renmin University, Beijing where she has taught Industrial Psychology. Comila has also been consulting to organizations for over 20 years. Dr. Shahani- Denning has provided consulting services to a wide variety of organizations, including: APT Metrics, Prometric, AT&T, Case Corporation, Long Island Board of Realtors, Mineola Youth and Family Services, Pass & Seymour, Rx Maxwell, St. Francis Hospital, and Thomas Cook, among others. Services include the facilitation and implementation of leadership development programs, test development, the assessment and evaluation of sales professionals, and the implementation of self-managed teams.

Industry Expertise (4)

Professional Training and Coaching

Social Media


Human Resources

Areas of Expertise (11)

Use of Social Media in Hiring

Office Politics

Workplace Communication


Public Speaking

Organizational Development

Leadership Development

Workplace Behavior

Human Resource Development

Workplace Civility

Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace

Education (3)

Rice University: PhD, Psychology 1988

Rice University: Masters, Pyschology 1986

St. Xavier University: Bachelors, Psychology 1983

Affiliations (2)

  • Treasurer: METRO New York Metropolitan Association of Applied Psychology
  • Member, Executive Board, COSI (Community of Organizational Sciences in India)

Media Appearances (7)

What Tips Do You Have for Someone Unhappy in Their Career?

WalletHub  online


Dr. Shahani answers the reader: "I would ask them to evaluate why they were unhappy with their career. It is important to separate job from a career? If it was the job, I would be asking them to identify what aspects of the job they were unhappy with- what factors are in their control and what is not in their control? I would also encourage them to not quit hastily but would encourage them to be proactive in looking for other opportunities. ... No matter what job one has held, you can extract the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired and apply them to a new role. I also encourage my students not to think of salary only but to really try to think of a job that they will really enjoy doing- In the best scenario, a good job should not feel like work."

view more

Weighing the impact of the attractiveness advantage

Human Resources Executive  


Physically attractive people have long been viewed as more sociable, happier and successful than their less attractive counterparts. This stereotype has been documented as far back as the early 1970s in psychology journals and academic studies, according to Comila Shahani-Denning, professor of psychology and director of the master’s program in industrial and organizational psychology at Hofstra University.

view more

Harassment Claims Reshape the Workplace

WABC7-Eyewitness News  tv


Dr. Comila Shahani-Denning discusses the impact on corporate America of the flood of high-profile sexual harassment cases in media, entertainment and politics, and the ways companies can prevent such behavior in the workplace.

view more

‘Pretty People Always Win’: Beauty Bias In The Workplace

Above the Law  online


What is 'beauty bias'? It is just as it sounds – workplace bias based upon appearance. Professor Comila Shahani-Denning reviewed numerous studies and wrote of the “beauty is goodness” stereotype in cinema, which portrayed “attractive characters … more favorably than unattractive characters.” That is not limited to the cinema – “In the area of employment decision making, attractiveness also influences interviewers’ judgments of job applicants.” Shahani-Denning also noted that, “Some evidence suggests that when the position being applied for is traditionally filled by a male, the reverse of the typical bias is found for female applicants: Attractive females are evaluated less favorably than unattractive females.”

view more

Hiring in the Age of Transparency

Workforce Magazine  online


Social media has changed the recruitment game. But today’s era of transparency in talent acquisition requires greater attention to detail. Some websites provide settings so recruiters can opt out of seeing certain content to prevent the likelihood of bias. Comila Shahani-Denning, an associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University and author of “LinkedIn and Recruitment: How Profiles Differ Across Occupations,” said LinkedIn allows recruiters to “turn off” access to some forms of content, like user photos, which can help prevent bias from creeping in.

view more

Employers Tend to Hire People They'd Like to Hang Out With

CNBC.com  online


New research finds that that when it comes to choosing job candidates, employers place a heavy emphasis on finding people who are similar to them, and whose company they enjoy. The findings didn't come as a surprise to Comila Shahani-Denning, an associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Hofstra University. Shahani-Denning has done research on how being attractive can affect people's chances of getting jobs or commanding higher salaries. She's currently looking at how LinkedIn and other social media sites are affecting hiring decisions. Because employers are looking for good cultural fits, jobseekers should be especially careful about the photos they post on sites like LinkedIn, and about the extracurricular activities they list and the groups they belong to. Those things can help you make a connection with an employer, but they can also exclude you from a potential job. Shahani-Denning also cautioned that by hiring candidates similar to their current staff, employers miss out on people who might bring different perspectives or experiences to the workplace. "My feeling is that although it's an attractive kind of tool to use, it can be dangerous," she said.

view more

Employers weed out job candidates with off-the-wall questions

Baltimore Sun  online


Employers are inundated with resumes, and off-the-wall questions can be a way to find candidates who stand out and can think on their feet, employment experts say. Some employers, experts say, actually believe a quirky question will uncover a candidate's personality, or at least liven up a boring interview — albeit at the applicant's expense. Comila Shahani-Denning, an associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., teaches future human resources professionals. She tells her students they will have only so much time with an applicant and advises them not to waste it with off-the-wall questions that have never been shown to predict job performance. Shahani-Denning advises job seekers who are asked strange questions to try to steer the interview back to business. Ask the interviewer to explain how the question applies to the job so you can better respond to it, she says.

view more

Articles (5)

LinkedIn and recruitment: how profiles differ across occupations

Employee Relations, 2014

Julie Zide, Ben Elman, Comila Shahani-Denning

The purpose this research is to identify the elements of a LinkedIn profile that hiring professionals focus on most, and then examine LinkedIn profiles in terms of these identified elements across different industries.

view more

An Examination of Attractiveness Biases in the Context of Hiring Through Social Networking Sites.

Journal of Organizational Psychology, 2014

Lisa S. Paik, Comila Shahani-Denning, Rodger W.Griffeth

The impact of physical attractiveness and amount of information presented through LinkedIn was examined in this study. Participants recruited through the professional networking site, LinkedIn, were asked to look at one of six LinkedIn profiles and make judgments based on the information presented.

view more

Selection interviews: Role of interviewer warmth, interview structure, and interview outcome in applicants’ perceptions of organizations

Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2013

Comila Shahani-Denning, Bonnie Farago, Julie S. Zide

This study examined reactions to different types of interviews. The main findings were a significant 3-way interaction found between interview outcome, interview structure, and warmth of the interviewer for accepting a job offer. Implications for organizational practice include incorporating interviewer warmth into the structured interview process, as well as hiring recruiters who demonstrate warm behaviors.

view more

Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Selection Decisions in India and the United States

International Journal of Management, 2010

Comila Shahani-Denning, Purvi Dudhat, Roni Tevet and Nicole Andreoli

This study examined the influence of physical attractiveness on selection decisions in two very different cultures, namely the United States and India. Most of the research on attractiveness bias has been conducted in western cultures like the United States. India was chosen for comparison because India continues to grow strong in the global marketplace and it is important to understand how decisions are made in the Indian environment. This was the first study to compare the attractiveness bias in India and the United States.

view more

Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring: What Is Beautiful Is Good

Hofstra Horizons, Spring 2003

Comila Shahani-Denning

Research examining attractiveness bias in hiring decisions is important because of the extensive use of subjective appraisals in employment decision making. Given the legislation prohibiting employment discrimination based on non-job-related factors such as race, gender, ethnicity, disability and age, it is interesting that there is no legislation regarding physical attractiveness (Watkins & Johnston, 2000). Making hiring decisions based on non-job-related factors is detrimental to the overall organizational performance.

view more