Winz has admitted to bungling a job advertisement by asking applicants to submit a photograph of themselves along with their CV.
The online ad for a customer service representative in Henderson sparked criticism from the public, some suggesting it was discrimination and against the Human Rights Act.
Winz has now confirmed the request for a "recent photo included in your CV" was a mistake.
But it couldn't explain how the request had made it into the final version of the job advert.
"This advertisement should not have included a reference to photographs - it's not ministry policy to request one," a spokesman said. "The reference has since been removed."
H2R Consulting recruitment manager Campbell Hepburn said it wasn't standard practice to ask candidates for a photograph.
"It's certainly not something that you're required to do. It tends to be, from an international perspective, more prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere," he said.
Darren A'Court, recruitment consultant with Hays Specialist Recruitment, said only about 5 per cent of New Zealand job applicants included photographs, and the company removed them before sending CVs to clients.
"It's standard practice to take them off because it's not going to add anything to you professionally, it's all about what you've done rather than what you look like," he said.
Sindy Ward, a senior recruitment consultant with Robert Walters Recruitment, agreed. She said most photos came from overseas applicants. "It's definitely not a trend [in NZ] at all."
Employers and Manufacturers Association employment services manager David Lowe said asking for a photo could be a way of screening for a professional presentation.
Human rights lawyer Carole Curtis said the Winz photo request was "shocking". Asking for a photo with a job application was not unlawful under the Human Rights Act 1993 but could be seen as grounds for discrimination if the photo was used to determine who got the job.
"I would have thought Winz should be the last place to judge people by appearance," critic Morgan Clare tweeted.