an employer wants to take a photo of me at my interview

A reader writes:

I have been invited to interview for a large global research company. This is the second stage interview, and as part of the email confirmation, I was told I would be doing a 2-hour interview with a task (normal enough) and that they would like to take a photo of me! (Exact wording: “We would also like to take a picture of you on the day if that is ok with you!”)

Is this normal? I’ve never been asked for a picture before. I work in market research, so I doubt it is necessary.

As there is a third stage interview after this, I am worried that I could be judged based on my appearance or race.

Should I reject this? Or is there anyway I can kindly reject this without sounding suspicious or difficult?

No, this isn’t normal, and yes, it’s weird, but no, I don’t think there’s any way to refuse the photo without shooting yourself in the foot.

The most likely explanation for why they want to take your photo is that they want to be able to keep track of the faces that match each candidate, because it can help jog people’s memories when they’re interviewing multiple candidates. But most employers do that with this crazy invention called note-taking. There’s really no need for photos, and it shows they haven’t been particularly thoughtful about all the reasons people might be uncomfortable with this.

But if you turn it down, then you’re the candidate who overreacted to a small request, and now you’re dramatic and difficult. So if you think you might want the job, I’d play along … but I’d also be alert to other signs of trouble through the interview process.

And anyone out there who hires: This is a bad idea. Do not request photos of your candidates, not at the application stage and not in person either.

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