The Secret Files of Hiring Recruiters: Fashion Mistakes I Wish My Candidates Didn’t Make|
As someone who spends her days interviewing job candidates, it never ceases to amaze me what some people show up wearing – especially women!
Given that the subject of what to wear to a job interview has been beaten to death it’s funny to realize how much confusion there still is as to what is considered professional and what isn’t. In a way, it’s great-women are creative and tend to express themselves through their personal style. But the leeway for the truly inappropriate also has the negative feature of having a low upside and very large downside risk.
I’ve seen a frightening number of women walk in with anything from clear platform heels to transparent shirts and pants. Skirts that are too short, in-your-face cleavage, and air constricting bandage dresses have also made several appearances. And, of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without stories of coffee stains and, believe it or not, actual bonified “nip slips” (thanks for that terminology, Janet Jackson).
These examples are extreme. The majority of the mistakes that walk into my office just seems to confuse clothes meant for going out to a bar with something that’s appropriate at the office. I sincerely hope this is just because I live in an area where clubbing is a way of life, but just in case it isn’t I figured the issue needed to be addressed.
In a way I don’t really fault these women. After all, when it comes to the clothing department we have way more options than men do, so it’s easy to get lost in a sea of clothes and accessories – especially when it comes to everyday work wear. We also have countless media sources telling us what’s hot or how to dress like Kim Kardashian which only further adds to the confusion.
Below you’ll find some tips for those moments where you’re in doubt about the dress code.
Ask before you show up.
Candidates will sometimes ask me what the dress code is for the initial job interview. Once we have interviews set up for our candidates we then coach them on the appropriate attire. The answer may be a given to some, but if you have any doubt make sure to ask.
In case you don’t know, business professional is preferred; meaning dress pants, a suit, a dress skirt, or something along those lines. Please exclude (or burn) anything that was mentioned in the second paragraph from your work wardrobe.
It’s better to ask and have some direction than to risk looking like a fool in an interview – because believe it or not, to a hiring manager what you wear can come off as a direct reflection of how you see yourself and what kind of a person you are. HR notices when a candidate takes good care of themselves – fitness and wardrobe included.
Ask a roommate or a friend.
When I was in college my roommates and I had a habit of asking each other whether or not our clothing was appropriate for certain situations. This is pretty good approach to take if you’re really stuck between a couple of options. If roommates or friends aren’t an option, ask your family. Believe me, if they have any interest in your success they won’t hold back when it comes to critiquing your work attire.
Do some research.
There is a myriad of information out there about how women should dress in the work place. Scour the web for places that have a reputation for helping women in their professional endeavors, like The Levo League or Classy Career Girl. You may also find that some big time fashion magazines are now rolling out with entirely separate publications just for the professional environment.
Try to look for publications that give you more than the “This is hot! Buy it!” approach. Instead, look for publications that provide a good bit of information that isn’t completely subjective or driven by ad sales. Marie Clarie @ Work is great for this, simply because they give you loads of information on appropriate work attire rather than just telling you to buy a certain product because it’s in style. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of the latter as well, but the magazine does occasionally go into long standing rules like working with classics and why you should stick to certain skirt lengths.
Overall, picking the appropriate attire for a job interview shouldn’t be so complicated, however when in doubt make sure to use some of the aforementioned techniques so you dress the part.