Applicant weight

Just saw in today's poll I am among the few that take weight in to account on job interviews.  Doesn't anyone else take weight in to account for physically demanding positions?  For a job that work out doors all day on the roads or in law enforcement the need to be healthy not to mention avoiding workers comp claims makes weight a significant factor.  For office jobs that isn't an issue.


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Just because someone looks fit, doesn't mean that they are healthy.
  • You reference law enforcement as one of the types of workers for whom you would take weight into consideration. All the LEO's I know (both police and fire) have to have pass a physical examination as part of the hiring process - so it should not be a factor in the actual interview. The DR's that do the exams need to know what the physical demands of the job are and it is their job to determine if the person can medically perform those functions. That isn't the job of the interviewer.

     I also agree that many people who look fit are not - it is impossible to tell by looking.


  • As we reflect on this question it is easy to slip into the vision of an overweight person. Where-as that is certainly a problem under weight people in such positions presents an equal liability to themselves and the position. A FF has on any where from 43 pounds to 75 pounds of gear before they go to work. Then the tools (ladders, Jaws, PPV Fans . . . ) may weigh 35 pounds ascending upward. So if an individual weighs 110 pounds the gear easily begins to out weigh them. Problem should be easy to see.

    However it is not as simple as a visual conclusion concerning either over or under weight people.  Weight in and of itself is not a protected category but elimination of protected groups that historically are 'under weight' or who are not as strong is discriminatory. Multiple law suits have been filed and won based on discrimination against women who are usually lighter in weight than men. IE CPAT (Candidates Performance Aptitude Test) for the fire service and a different version for police has been sanctioned by the court as a relevant physical abilities test for all candidates was born. Some departments conduct this abilities test before any other function of the hiring process continues and some as the last part of the process. There are other versions of abilities test but to my knowledge the only one that has passed court muster is CPAT.

    So weight as a hiring issue can become quite complicated very quickly. NFPA Standard 1582 covers the physical abilities required for firefighters including medical evaluations for passing a physical.

  • I absolutely agree that just because someone "looks" like their weight is in the acceptable range doesn't always mean they have a healthy lifestyle and could perform physically demanding positions.

    I will play devils advocate and say that weight can play a role in office jobs as well.  Studies have shown that individuals with weight problems have more medical issues including sleep problems, diabetes, and other chronic issues.  All of this can ultimately affect the persons ability to do their job to the best of their ability.  I have also seen reports that show these individuals are more likely to have attendance problems, take FMLA, etc.  So, you could argue that you need to consider this as well when hiring.  Now with that being said, I don't think we should do this.  I have known many individuals in my career that would be considered overweight that work circles around those that have an acceptable weight. 

    There are positions that physical ability needs to be taken into consideration.  These are the jobs that have a physical performed by a medical professional that understands all aspects of the position to be performed. 

  • This is an interesting thread. It all, as always, comes down to whether an applicant can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation. Weight is not generally a legally protected category all by itself, but it can be associated with conditions that are (an underweight employee with anorexia could have a heart condition, for example, and an overweight employee could have Type II diabetes).

    From a legal standpoint, it's important to be careful not to use any kind of visual shorthand--like a number on a scale--to attempt broader determinations about an applicant's health or physical capability.

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