Back in the 80s when I went for my very first job interview right out of college, I KNEW that you were supposed to wear a suit. After all, you wanted to make a good impression. It was only common sense.
Of course, once I got the job, it was different. This was a company that published consumer magazines covering different aspects of the entertainment industry, and the dress code was pretty lax. I still wore a buttoned-down shirt and a tie every day of my first week until the managing editor told me, “Knock it off. You’re making everybody else nervous.” After that, I could wear jeans and sneakers if I wanted.
It was the same when I went for my next job, which was at a database publishing company. Only the people at the very top ever met directly with outsiders, and so, only they wore business suits every day. But I still wore mine when I went to interview for my position in the first place. I didn’t know that the rank and file could wear jeans and sneakers, just that I needed to look good the very first time anybody from that company saw me.
A few weeks ago, I had to respond to something brought up in a conversation on LinkedIn. This hiring manager was talking about a young lady who had come into her office for an interview but she was dressed in a jeans-and-leather outfit. The manager felt she needed to explain to this woman that what she was wearing was inappropriate for their workplace, and she wondered what they were teaching young job-seekers these days.
I had to say that, as much as those in our generation didn’t SEEM to need to have the idea of dressing properly for a job interview hammered into us, this really wasn’t anything new. I brought up an article that I read nearly 20 years ago which discussed a woman who showed up for her interview in nothing more than a bikini. It’s not like she was trying to get by on her looks. She told the recruiter that she and a few friends were going to the beach right afterwards and she didn’t want to waste any time changing.
Now, really, what does something like that say to a recruiter? Does it indicate that the open position is actually that important to the job seeker? Does it show any degree of respect for the recruiter, a hiring manager, or anybody else at the company?
So, please keep that in mind when you’re preparing for your next interview. Wear a nice suit. If you’re into perfume or cologne, don’t put too much on.
It’s just common sense.