Interview? What YOU wearing’?

I just finished reading Dave Kerpens take on Dressing for Success today. In brief he suggests that we: ​

-Mimic dress culture – I agree, with in reason

-Find a job according to the dress code you prefer. i.e. If choice of dress is undergarments work from home. Etc

I know a little girl with a dress code choice that is naked and sometimes involves boys underwear, this little girl is my daughter, as she gets older she may decide that her dress code of choice is to be naked, what shall I advise her to do? Find a company that has her work from home so she can be a CEO and dress naked in boys undergarments?​
Isn’t this a dangerous suggestion to put out there, to advise our future brains of tomorrow to limit the company options by dress code preference?​

This week, I will speak to a room full of impressionable, cynical, confused High School students, my purpose to empower, inspire and advise them on dressing for the interview and in general ‘dressing for success’. Should I advise them to narrow their search by their preferred company dress attire too? What will that entail high tops? Sports wear? Grungy tops? Hot pants? Goth?

Amongst other things mentioned in this article he wisely suggests his take may be considered ‘trivial’ or ‘controversial’. What I personally find controversial is the use of the word ‘trivial’ when it comes to dressing for interviews.

There is and will never be anything ‘trivial’ about the way we dress in general, especially for interviews.​

I am a personal fashion stylist and a volunteer personal shopper at non-profit Dress for Success, my aim to have clients empowered, energised and comfortable in well fitted, powerful ”interview appropriate” clothing.

This article is indeed timely and some very valid points have been made, I too believe strongly in mimic-ing the environment, clothing, mannerisms, even down to hand gestures. However, in my experience of dressing people for interviews, this is where it’s at.​

​Panic not, Kerpens, long gone are the days of 3 piece suits & boa hats, as are corsets and bonnets! (well in truth the corset has been replaced with the spanx, but let’s not get me started on that topic again, or this may end ugly). We can dress smart without resorting to a pocket watch and hanky to match.

Your clothing is the conversation before the conversation, whether your interviewer is male or female, fashion adept or not, the fact is that before you open your mouth you have had a ‘dressing-down’ (if you pardon the expression). Kerpens is right in some respects, you do need to show you have an understanding of the company culture through your choice of dress and even your knowledge. However, in my opinion, there is a lot to be said about the person that makes an effort and very little to be said for the person who takes Kerpen’s advice literally, which I fear people may do given his business stature.

Kerpens notably says: ‘At a job interview, you should dress comfortably and (at most) a little more formally than the rest of the office’

Kerpens then gets his little red pen out and re-positions the naughty chair and says the following:

‘If a job applicant to one of our companies comes in a suit and tie, it shows that he didn’t research the culture of our office – and it counts as a strike against him. Why take that risk?’

Seriously – you are going to put a red mark against a person who looks smart and put together, really?

The risk you take in dressing casually says more about your attitude, casual nature and your potentially casual approach to life and your job.

You should dress ”business casual” or ”formal”, or ”formal-formal” (whatever that is). No room for casual attire at all, unless, you are at home scratching your butt and surfing the net.

If that were me interviewing I would get my red pen out and scribble all over your semi-casual interview look, after all if it’s that casual it won’t matter.

Your appearance speaks ​volumes about you, yes mimic the culture, but, within reason.

For instance the culture is the ”rolled out of bed”/hipster look, which I know can be a common look in the Bay Area. My suggestion, business casual, do you really want to turn up to an interview in as Kerpens suggests, ‘(at most) a little more formally than the rest of the office.’- what would that be? Ironed pajama bottoms and brushed teeth? Flip flops? Shorts? What would be appropriate for ”a little more formally” than the hipster look?​

Play it safe always, which means take it up a notch or two, why? It shows that you have given your appearance some thought and you do care about securing the job that’s right for you. Knowledge of company culture can come across in your interview when you exchange ideas, that’s what the interview is for.

Still not convinced? Mr Kerpens talks fondly of his first job interview wearing a suit and tie plus 50lbs extra weight with the added attraction of sweat, he was actually successful even though he was not dressed in accordance to the dress culture.

​After the interview they offered him the position, at which point they then asked him to loose the tie and jacket. So if that is the case, what are you going to do?

In Kerpens words ‘why take that risk?’ I agree, why take the risk?

I am a Personal fashion stylist. Nutritionist. Speaker. Writer. Personal shopper volunteer at Dress for Success.
My Focus: Have women create their own brand, voice, style & confidence.

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