Comila Shahani-Denning, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology and the director of the M.A. program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Hofstra University. Her research expertise focuses on employee selection, specifically how social media enhances or hinders recruitment and hiring. She also has conducted research on the effect of physical attractiveness and gender on hiring decisions. In addition, Dr. Shahani-Denning has examined cross-cultural differences in hiring and recruiting practices. She serves on the Executive Board of METRO (Metropolitan Association for Applied Psychologists), is a member of the Executive Board of COSI (Community of Organizational Sciences in India), and has served as adjunct professor of psychology at Renmin University, Beijing. Dr. Shahani-Denning has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years for 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 .
Industry Expertise (4)
Professional Training and Coaching
Areas of Expertise (11)
Use of Social Media in Hiring
Human Resource Development
Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace
Rice University: PhD, Psychology 1988
Rice University: Masters, Pyschology 1986
St. Xavier University: Bachelors, Psychology 1983
- 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?
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."
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.
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.
‘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.”
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.
Employers Tend to Hire People They'd Like to Hang Out With
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.
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.
LinkedIn and recruitment: how profiles differ across occupationsEmployee 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.
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.
Selection interviews: Role of interviewer warmth, interview structure, and interview outcome in applicants’ perceptions of organizationsConsulting 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.
Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Selection Decisions in India and the United StatesInternational 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.
Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring: What Is Beautiful Is GoodHofstra Horizons, Spring 2003
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.