Question of the day: What is the worst thing a candidate showed up to an interview wearing?

Time for a quick Recruiter rant. Dress for success. It seems this would be common knowledge for most but it is usually included in every interview tip article out there. As part of my send-out candidate prep, I admit to mentioning this tip but does it hold any merit? There are recruiting tales of candidates showing up in sweatpants, golf clothes, surgical scrubs- you name it, but are these just urban legends? It makes for a great Question of the Day: What is the worst thing a candidate showed up to an interview wearing?

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ok now I just spit coffee

Bill Schultz said:

did some thought on this over lunch.  my answer would've been "you're not 'Bringin Sexy Back?'"



Bill Schultz said:

i just spit coffee.

Roberto C Abreu said:

 Managers feedback "We would not be moving foward with "Sexy" -

I did too and reminded me of one i have tired to forget.  Woman in her late 40's showed up for an interview in thin white pants and a thin white blouse.  The feedback i got from my HR buddy was, "  Well I thought she had on a black bra under that white blouse until i realized that she had tats on both sides that were arrows  with a smiley face at the tips that pointed to her ta tas.  And i don't know for sure if she had on black thong under those white slacks or if she was sumggling a spider and i sure wasn't going to ask.  Not sure what her skills are but whatever they are i don't think we really need them."

When  she called to get feedback the only thing i could think of to say when she asked how the interview went , all i could think of to say was , "I'm afraid it went South".

I really need to not be taking a sip of this delicious red wine when I read your war stories Ms Sandra :)

Sandra McCartt said:

I did too and reminded me of one i have tired to forget.  Woman in her late 40's showed up for an interview in thin white pants and a thin white blouse.  The feedback i got from my HR buddy was, "  Well I thought she had on a black bra under that white blouse until i realized that she had tats on both sides that were arrows  with a smiley face at the tips that pointed to her ta tas.  And i don't know for sure if she had on black thong under those white slacks or if she was sumggling a spider and i sure wasn't going to ask.  Not sure what her skills are but whatever they are i don't think we really need them."

When  she called to get feedback the only thing i could think of to say when she asked how the interview went , all i could think of to say was , "I'm afraid it went South".

And then there was the candidate who called me about five minutes before his interview the conversation when something like this.

 

Candidate (in a semi whisper) : Sandra i have a problem, I am here at XYZ but is there any way you can call them and tell them i had an emergency and had to leave for about 15 minutes.?  I can come right back..

 

Me:  Is this some sort of personal emergency?

 

Candidate:  Well sort of.  I decided that i should run in the men's  room real quickly while i was waiting to speak with the HR lady.  I have on khaki slacks and well , er , uh.  I need to run change real quickly.

 

Me:  Are we talking Out , out damned spot?  ( I will not ever reveal the question that was running through my mind)

 

Candidate:  Er, uh, choke, strangle (very very small voice)  yes.

 

Me:  Do you have a note pad or portfoilo like i suggested you take with you?

 

Candidate:  Yes

 

Me:  Cover the spot with your notepad, standing and when you sit down.  Don't take notes forget the notes..

 

He did get the job.  Now in a managment position he loves to tell the story about how his recruiter saved him when he peed in his pants right before the interview.  When he calls me now i always start the conversation by saying, "Hey, how are you old spot."

There are so many, but the winner would have to be Jeans, T-shirt and a baseball cap with a swear word in big bold letters across the front!

The absolute only thing I miss about the "good old days" is that we never had discussions like this. There were no dress codes because it never occurred to anybody that you went to work, to a local restaurant, a movie or anyplace else in jeans tennis shoes, flip flops, baseball caps or for god's sake t shirts with writing on them unless you were younger than ten. Little boys were taught that a gentleman takes his hat off in the house..period and that most certainly included anyplace that had four walls, a roof and a door that opened and closed.

It was a real shock to me when we first started getting feedback that people showed up for interviews dressed like idiots.

If anyone asks me for one thing that most affected the business community in a negative way during my career, my answer is " business casual". For me those two words are mutually exclusive. Most people understood business attire , when we added casual people went to hell in a hand basket. I think the only thing anybody heard was "casual" which seems to mean anything that looks like hammered owl crap

Sandra:  I love the candidates who come to see me (I see virtually all my candidates since most of my business is in New York where I am located) dressed like vagabonds. Because I recruit for advertising, I see all kinds of dress. I am so used to seeing people who present themselves like slobs, that I have become used to it, but never accepting of poor dress. When I ask them or tell them that they are dressed inappropriately - which I do all the time - they often comment that they wouldn't dress this way on a "real" interview.  What am I, chopped liver?  But the truth is, they show up at client ad agencies dressed inappropriately.  Often the excuse is that "if I got dressed up, people would know that I was looking.  I always tell them that that is why every company in the world has a men's or women's room.

I am so glad to see that you come from the same space that I do.  I once had a recruiter who I had to let go because she came to work with tights, a men's shirt, but tied at the waist so her belly button showed and no bra.  I explained that if she wanted to interview executives she had to look like an executive.  She did not have to dress formally, but she had to set an example.  I am old fashioned that way.  The first time she dressed that way I told her it was inappropriate, the second time I warned her and the third time I fired her.  Recruiters should be no different than their candidates.

I hear that same thing, "I want you to know that I wouldn't go to an interview like this,"

On one of my days where I say the first thing that pops into my head, I smiled and said, "oh, ok, how about I reschedule you for tomorrow."

I totally agree with you that recruiters who meet face to face or even skype with candidates should be professionally dressed. I had a couple of ladies who worked for me in the mid 90's who slowly deterioted before my eyes. I started reviewing candidates and assigning them to each recruiter. They started questioning why they were not getting top tiered professionals. My response was, "when you start dressing like top tier professionals you can represent them, I assumed you preferred to work with warehouse and call center candidates."

One of them cleaned it up. The other one opined that how she was dressed had no affect on her ability to do her job. Uh, I got a flash for you Grizelda, in my office it does. By the way I am taking the team to the petroleum club for lunch. I am sorry you will not be able to join us. They won't allow you in the dining room the way you are dressed. She departed that day. I was delighted. I don't have to look at slobs in my office. I get enough of that going to a restaurant for dinner. I will hang on to the last bastion of dress code and making nasty remarks about baseball caps till the day I die. Some things are non negotiable.

Had a client call me whispering that my employee (I do contract hiring) showed up on his first day to do orientation in tshirt and sweats.  And I'm not even talking about a niceer pair of sweat pants, I'm talking the kind you have had for 10 years, the ones you paint in!!!  I told her I would take care of it.  Hung up with her and texted my employee that at lunch he needs to change and not to ever show up in sweat pants to a medical facility again!  His response was "how did you know", I responded "just cause I'm not there, I still find out when you screw up, don't let it happen again"

 

When I was in college, had a guy walk in to the retail place I worked with a hat on that said "take this job and shove it up your a$$".  He asked for an application and then asked if he should fill it out there.  (I was a shift manager).  I told him it would be better that he didnt

ok, please take this in context.  We had a Child Psychiatrist show up at an inpatient adolescent boys unit for an interview in and I quote "red heels as high as my knee, a shorter skirt than should be legal, and a low cut shirt which would make Larry Flynt blush".  No one thought this person was the physician for an interview but rather a parent, guardian, or "other".  Needless to say, the interview never took place!  They had me call her cell and ask her to leave...  And as Tim can attest, we prep every candidate about proper interview protocols.  

It wasn't necessarily what they were wearing, but they had their pants zipper down the whole time.  Attention to detail is important...they did not get the job :(

Has to be the guy who showed up wearing cut off jean shorts and a tee shirt.

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