Do looks matter? The role of the Electronic Residency Application Service photograph in dermatology residency selection

Dermatol Online J. 2018 Apr 15;24(4):13030/qt5qc988jz.


Background: There is a lack of research on the impact of the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) photograph on the residency selection process.

Objective: We sought to elucidate the role of the ERAS photograph in the dermatology residency selection outcome and to determine if photographs submitted by matched applicants differ from those of unmatched applicants.

Methods: We analyzed ERAS photographs submitted by dermatology residency applicants based on photograph characteristics related to composition, attire, facial expression, hairstyle, and accessories.

Results: Candidates who smiled, wore glasses, and wore jackets in their photographs were more likely to match. There was no difference in the rate of matching among applicants depending on whether their photograph was of professional quality or whether they wore formal attire in their pictures. Gender specific characteristics were not found to be influential in the match outcome for male applicants. Among female applicants, having hair to the shoulders or longer was associated with a positive match outcome.

Conclusion: Certain characteristics of the ERAS photographs were found to be associated with a more favorable match outcome. Further biases inferred from these photographs might be present in the dermatology selection process. We suggest blinding the selection committees to ERAS application photographs prior to granting residency interviews.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Clothing
  • Dermatology / education*
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Jewelry
  • Male
  • Personnel Selection*
  • Photography*
  • Smiling