FOA in job interviews
FOA is a term once used to signify that a person was attractive enough to sit in an area where they would be seen by the public. FOA stands for Front Office Appearance.
When you interviewed with an agency, they used to note the letters FOA or NFOA (no front office appearance) on your application. It was kind of an industry trade secret, since the meaning of the letters were only known to insiders.
If your application had NFOA on it, you were NOT going to be sent for an interview or temp job. It meant that the company asked for only attractive receptionists or secretaries, for example. I’m not sure if those actual acronyms are used anymore. Would love to hear from anyone who knows.
Still, the desire for FOA types definitely continues to be passed along. Especially by industries where certain types of appearances might not be welcome — at least not where the employees can be seen. And one can only imagine that, without being written down anywhere, FOA-type preferences include things other than just attractive appearance.
Preferences go unsaid — out loud
Because of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, companies that still discriminate have to be very careful. Especially when communicating preferences other than “attractive” in writing or out loud.
NOTE: Title VII protects against discrimination by race, color, sex, religion or national origin. You wil notice “unattractive” is not included.
Not a pretty side of hiring, but it is out there. And so do your best to wow them in every other way. That still can make a difference. And if it can’t, good chance you won’t enjoy the company culture anyway.:)
[Article updated in 2020]