JOBSEEKERS are finding the old adage that it's not what you know, but who you know does not necessarily apply in Australia - it's actually more about where you come from.

A study by the Australian National University has found people with Chinese names are much more likely to be knocked back for a job interview than applicants with an Anglo-Saxon name.

Researchers found Chinese jobseekers also had less chance of being called back than Middle Eastern and Italian contenders.

The study sent 4000 fake job applications for entry-level waiting, data entry, customer service and sales jobs.

The fictitious employment seekers went to high school in Australia.

The research found that overall, Chinese jobseekers were called back 21 per cent of the time they applied for a job, compared with 22 per cent for Middle Eastern people and 26 per cent for indigenous applicants.

By comparison, Anglo-Saxon job seekers were called back 35 per cent of the time, only slightly ahead of Italians on 32 per cent.

"It's consistent with the notion ... that a sudden influx of migration increases prejudice,'' researcher Andrew Leigh said.