Should you tell a job candidate about her body odor?

Dear Evil HR Lady,
We have an applicant with strong body odor. By looking at her application I believe she is qualified but seriously I would not want to even be in the room with her when she interviews. Can we tell them or are we opening up a can of worms?

To read the answer, click here: Should you tell a job candidate about her body odor?

Related Posts

14 thoughts on “Should you tell a job candidate about her body odor?

  1. I have a friend who I helped work on their resume and as much as they are very smart and a hard worker. I know that body odor and physical appearance will be off-putting in an interview and I have no idea how to say that. (Being vague on purpose because you never know what people find on the net.)

    As a hiring manager, this is good advice though.

    1. If you’re a true friend, you’d tell her. I know how hard it is, but honestly, it will hurt her chances.

  2. I’m a little curious how, prior to an interview, they already know about the odor issue–present when application dropped off, known to somebody who works there? I might act differently if there’s a chance it was a one-off bad moment vs. an ongoing situation.

    Anon above, that’s definitely a hard thing to tell somebody. Can you make it sound like a sporty thing rather than a hygiene thing–“it’s a little like you just came from the gym, and that’s something interviewers don’t like”? And even that’s only if they’ve made it clear they’re willing to hear some personal tips.

    1. I think, even if it was a one-off, it’s indicative that the person isn’t aware of proper protocol for job hunting. Even if you’re just dropping off a resume, you take a shower, dress nicely and use deodorant.

      1. No disagreement here. But I think I’d feel worse about not telling somebody who’s already in the company that this is why they weren’t advancing. (And plus I’m wide-eyed at somebody who smelled that bad just dropping off an application, so I was kind of hoping that that wasn’t the scenrio.)

      2. Oh gosh yes, and with the heat the way it is, it’s really difficult. My car doesn’t have any air conditioning! I always dress up to drop off a resume in case they want to talk to me right then. It does happen!

  3. Yikes. This is so much easier to write about than to actually carry out. The last time I had to deal with this, it was for an obese employee who could not reach all body parts to wash (presumably…I did not confirm through observation). As Evil/Wise HR Lady points out, because the corpulence was related to Type I Diabetes, proceeding with any further discussion or actions was dicey at best. Performance was great, but in a people-facing job it is tough to handle multiple complaints a year from others, in any case.

    1. That’s why I write about it, rather than doing it!

      So, what did you say? Did you say something? I’m dying to know.

  4. I got to have my very first conversation with an employee this the other day….not a fun task. If you can do this with tact, you should do well on most management tasks.

  5. Oh wow, this is my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They do not wear antiperspirant, only natural deodorants. They do not shower regularly because it isn’t good for the environment to use all that water. Whatever soap they use is really ineffective. It is all natural and vegan. This has caused more than a few problems with me and my husband because I refuse to go on vacations where we share quarters. They stink! They are grown ups, yet they smell like sweaty children. I’ve said something, his mom has said something, they don’t care. They think they are fine and anyone who doesn’t like it has a problem. I don’t know what their situations are at work, I am just glad they don’t work with me! So my question – could an employer fire someone like them for being stinky becuase they care about the environment?

    1. Caring about the environment is not a protected class, fortunately.

      I wouldn’t want to share living quarters with them either! I love my Secret!

      1. Thanks 🙂 I like my Certain Dri Clinical Strength! It amazes me that there are people who a) don’t have freinds and family who care enough to tell them they stink or b) don’t care!

  6. As a potential employer, I don’t believe it is your place to tell a candidate about their hygiene and body odor. If it is something that will affect the workplace environment, then they may just not be a good fit for the position. Altera Staffing has a team of staffing consultants who are more than happy to answer any best hiring practices questions and offer any employer staffing solutions. Visit us at .

    1. I’m very curious to know what staffing solutions are offered for persons with genuine chronic medical odor issues . It is not commonly known that many people suffer from issues like TMAU and other conditions that are incurable or problematic for doctors.

Comments are closed.

Are you looking for a new HR job? Or are you trying to hire a new HR person? Either way, hop on over to Evil HR Jobs, and you'll find what you're looking for.