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Costly Mistakes: Why and When Spelling Errors in Resumes Jeopardise Interview Chances


  • Sterkens, Philippe

    (Ghent University)

  • Caers, Ralf

    (KU Leuven)

  • De Couck, Marijke

    (Free University of Brussels)

  • Geamanu, Michael

    (Ghent University)

  • Van Driessche, Victor

    (Ghent University)

  • Baert, Stijn

    (Ghent University)


Earlier research has associated spelling errors in resumes with reduced hiring chances. However, the analysis of hiring penalties due to spelling errors has thus far been restricted to white-collar occupations and relatively high numbers of errors per resume. Moreover, the mechanisms underlying the spelling error penalty have remained unclear. To fill these gaps in the peerreviewed literature, we conducted a scenario experiment with 445 genuine recruiters. Results show that, compared to error-free resumes, hiring penalties are being inflicted for both error-laden resumes (18.5 percent points lower interview probability) and resumes with fewer errors (7.3 percent points lower interview probability). Furthermore, we find substantial heterogeneity in penalties inflicted based on various applicant, job and participant characteristics. About half of the spelling error penalty can be explained by the perception that applicants who make spelling errors have lower interpersonal skills (9.0%), conscientiousness (12.1%) and mental abilities (32.2%).

Suggested Citation

  • Sterkens, Philippe & Caers, Ralf & De Couck, Marijke & Geamanu, Michael & Van Driessche, Victor & Baert, Stijn, 2021. "Costly Mistakes: Why and When Spelling Errors in Resumes Jeopardise Interview Chances," IZA Discussion Papers 14614, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp14614

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. S. Baert & L. Decuypere, 2014. "Better sexy than flexy? A lab experiment assessing the impact of perceived attractiveness and personality traits on hiring decisions," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(9), pages 597-601, June.
    2. Stijn Baert & Dieter Verhaest, 2021. "Work Hard or Play Hard? Degree Class, Student Leadership and Employment Opportunities," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(4), pages 1024-1047, August.
    3. Baert, Stijn & Picchio, Matteo, 2021. "A signal of (Train)ability? Grade repetition and hiring chances," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 867-878.
    4. Stijn Baert & Ann-Sophie De Pauw & Nick Deschacht, 2016. "Do Employer Preferences Contribute to Sticky Floors?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 69(3), pages 714-736, May.
    5. Ann-Sophie De Pauw, 2016. "Do employer preferences contribute to sticky floors ?," Post-Print hal-01772258, HAL.
    6. Stijn Baert & Sunčica Vujić, 2018. "Does it pay to care? Volunteering and employment opportunities," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(3), pages 819-836, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moens, Eline & De Pessemier, Dyllis & Baert, Stijn, 2024. "How Do Recruiters Assess Applicants Who Express a Political Engagement?," IZA Discussion Papers 16730, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Štěpán Mikula & Josef Montag, 2022. "Roma and Bureaucrats: A Field Experiment in the Czech Republic," MUNI ECON Working Papers 2022-01, Masaryk University, revised Feb 2023.

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    More about this item


    resumes; signalling; hiring experiments; spelling errors;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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