How dressed up should a woman be for a high level job interview? (UPDATE)
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 10/10/2012 by Mariah2 in NSBR Board
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Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:46:23 PM
I don't want to beat a dead horse but I wanted to put in a little update. We interviewed the other candidate today, a youngish man who has already worked here a few years. He typically wears rumpled khakis, a plaid shirt, and casual boots. Today he wore a suit and tie to work for his interview, even though he already knows everybody here, and we all know him. Just an FYI.
-----------------------------

We are interviewing 2 candidates this week for a high level position. The person will be revamping our systems and managing 3 teams of people. One candidate is male and one female.

I met the woman today and interviewed her as part of a committee. All I will say is that I was um... surprised (ok a little shocked) at how she was dressed. A big part of the interview process is a presentation to the search committee.

Other than that she is completely qualified for the job and seems quite nice. I am sure she could do it and I liked her answers to questions.

So my question is, if you were interviewing at a company for a project manager job, how much would you dress up? And would you judge someone negatively who did not dress up?

My input to my boss FYI will just be what I said above - she seems nice, I liked her answers, and she is very qualified. That's it.

Dalai Mama
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:47:39 PM
Ballgown and tiara.

But a nice business suit should be fine.

beachgurl
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:48:22 PM
So how was she dressed? What were you expecting to see her wearing?

sunny 5
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:49:15 PM
depends on industry. business casual...nice pants, or skirt,top, maybe a sweater...

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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:49:41 PM
I'd wear a suit or at least an outfit with a blazer.

deragirl
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:50:26 PM
Unless the company interviewing the candidate has a well known culture for casual, I would expect dark skirt suit (not pants), conservative blouse, neat hair and generally professional appearance. And hose!

But I come from a conservative large law firm background, and anything less than that would have been a disaster back in the mid-90's when I last did interviewing. Maybe I'm too conservative.

How one dresses for an interview is a sign of respect for the company looking to hire as far as I am concerned.

smokeynspike
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:50:29 PM
Skirt suit or pant suit

IMO, nothing else is appropriate for an interview.

Melissa

Creativegirl
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:50:34 PM
I would likely wear a nice suit. I think that's pretty standard interview attire for professional positions.

Whether someone's attire would impact my overall feeling on the interview would depend on what exactly they were wearing (just a little too casual, or completely inappropriate?) If they dressed that way on the job, would it be a problem? If so, it would probably impact my overall decision.

cdnscrapper
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:51:04 PM
I would think a business suit however both dh and I have been noticing how business dress is definitely more casual than it was years ago. If my dh were to interview he would wear a suit and tie. I would at least expect a blouse and skirt or nice slacks for a woman.

Kerri W
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:51:38 PM
I would answer business suit...jacket and pants/skirt.

DH and I have discussed this before and he maintains that it can be industry specific. He claims suits are completely out of place in his industry and oddly enough not the image his company wants to portray.

scrappower
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:51:55 PM
Skirt/pant Suit or appropriate dress.

SharlaG
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:51:55 PM
Depends on the industry.

Not denim/jeans. Not a sweatshirt or tshirt.

From a dress blouse with trousers to a nice suit, I'd say.

tifftiff2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:52:50 PM
I would hope she would dress up. As a manager for my job (retail big box) I still refuse to interview anyone who shows up in jeans and a t-shirt. Most people come dressed up. Those are the people who show that they want the job, even if it isn't the most glamorous one in the world. They show initiative and caring in their presentation.

I once had a kid show up in a hat with the F*** word - immediately got sent out the door.

So, yes. I would be more than surprised if someone showed up in casual clothing for an interview. I always dress up, regardless of position (even when I was 18 and applying for cashier jobs, I wore skirts and nice tops!)

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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:53:02 PM
I guess we have different definitions of what a 'high level job' is? To me a 'high level job' are all the "C"s. CEO, CFO, COO, etc. At those levels? Yes, suits all the way.

In my experience a project manager in IT (for example) interviews in a suit, but will probably wear khaki's and a polo on a regular basis. On occasion a suit when they've got open bids for complete integration/phase out of something, but that's about it.

myshelly
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:53:31 PM
I guess it depends on the industry.

In my field (attorney), everyone I have ever seen for an interview, from people applying as mail clerks to receptionists to secretaries to attorneys, has been dressed in a business suit.

So I would expect a suit (suit pants and matching blazer), dress shirt, tie, dress shoes, and briefcase of a male.
Business suit (either blazer and pants or blazer and skirt), dress shirt, and heels, briefcase or purse for a female.






Yubon
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:54:10 PM
I thought you worked at a library.

So as long as she was dressed as a librarian, I guess that's about what I would expect.

Annabella
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:54:39 PM
How was she dressed? I would wear a suit, pearls and pantyhose.

*christine*
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:55:25 PM



jennifw
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:59:03 PM
Depends on the industry. I work for a fairly-casual but very large IT company. A suit (skirt or pants) would be appropriate as would slacks and a nice twin-set, etc.

After the interview, she might come to work in jeans..........

divinghkns
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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:59:18 PM
I've always been told you dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

So I guess it depend by how "high" level you mean. But assuming that it is a position above entry-level, I would think a well-fitted, clean, suit that is in good repair. Clean, polished, not-old-looking shoes. Jewelry - nothing too flashy but enough to round out the outfit. I would also expect their hair to be done, and good overall hygiene.

If we are talking super high up, like a CEO, I would even go one step further and say they should probably have a proper manicure, and their should be freshly cut, colored, and properly styled.

My answer would also vary based on industry. If she is interviewing for a creative job (i.e. marketing, architecture) then I think it might be acceptable to have a little bit of flair to her outfit as long as it's not too outrageous. If she's interviewing for a more straight-laced job like accounting, insurance or banking then I would say it would be best to stick to more conservative clothing/jewelry.

I have worked as a construction project manager before. And even though my daily job was dirty and I was able to get away with jeans a lot of the time, I still always dressed up in a suit with nice shoes for an interview and meetings w/ architects or clients. So even if the day-to-day operations don't require fanciness, the interview should.

ETA: If I were in the position to hire her, would I make the decision solely based on how she looked? No, my primary focus would be her skills, experience and what she can bring to the team. UNLESS, we are counting on her appearance to do her job...for instance if you were hiring a marketing person who is going to be going out and schmoozing clients or representing our company regularly on camera (like press releases). But even then I wouldn't based it on if she's pretty or not, I would base it on if her appearance repels people or undermines her qualifications.

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AncestralPea

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Posted: 10/10/2012 2:59:47 PM
A conservative business suit and good shoes.

busypea
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:00:14 PM
A suit - either pants or skirt.

To me, there is no other option.

If someone who was really the best candidate according to experience and interviews was dressed inappropriately, I'm not sure what I would do. If she otherwise presented herself professionally (quality of answers, presentation skills, etc.) and her references were great, I would probably look at it as a coaching issue. We'd have a talk about it before any offer was extended and if she wasn't onboard with the dress code, I'd keep looking.

If she weren't the #1 candidate or was tied with someone else who dressed appropriately, I'd move on.

theshyone
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:00:24 PM
A step higher than what she would wear on a daily basis
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*Lena*
AncestralPea

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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:04:17 PM
Unless it's a retail job, or something in the creative/arts industry I would always wear a suit. Always. I don't care if it's a mail clerk position or CEO. Wear a damn suit! no hose, though, they are considered outdated now.
And it doesn't matter what their dress code is in general. So if it is business casual, then interview in a suit and come to work in business casual. I actually had a boss who at the interview told me straight up to never wear a suit unless going to court. He said "yeahhh....we don't do this here, wear jeans and flip-flops if you want." P.S. I did get that job =)

caroscraps
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:13:10 PM
I would say suit either skirt or pants and NO CLEAVAGE. I always thought that was a given, nope, wrong these days.

sunny 5
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:32:46 PM
I guess it also depends on where you are....no one wears suits here, except attorneys in court, bankers and politicians. my dh wears a dress shirt and jeans (he is a project manager in it) and he is way over dressed. the ceo shows up for press conferences dressed the same way with the shirt untucked.

SmartyPants71
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:36:56 PM
I would expect the person to be in a suit - either pants or skirt.

cmpeter
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:46:56 PM
It also depends on the industry. Wear a suit and a job to a Microsoft, Google, etc. interview and you are telling the company you don't have a clue about them.

What type of industry and what was she wearing?

BuckeyeSandy
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:49:20 PM
Me? Dressed professionally, or a close proximity (suit or outfit with a jacket) , closed toe shoes that are clean and polished. Some make- up, hair washed and groomed. No clunky or noisy accessories. Portfolio with fresh copies of resume, references, work samples.


So what did she actually show up wearing?

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Denda
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:54:00 PM
I would dress like I would going to church.

WiiPii
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:54:08 PM
A suit for sure.

moveablefeast
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:58:42 PM
The question for me is not what would I expect her to be wearing, but how does what she is wearing reflect her knowledge of, and fit within, the industry in question.

My husband is a federal PM. His interview dress would be intensely conservative. He frequently works with the director of the agency, and there are many, many jacket-and-tie situations at work (so he wears dress pants, a button-down shirt, and keeps a neutral tie and jacket in his office, ha).

I was a program manager at a nonprofit in DC in a previous life. For a job like that, interview dress was professional with an edge. You would be out of place in strict business attire, but not in wide-legged trousers, a colorful blouse, and interesting accessories. For example. Or a pencil skirt, a tie-front blouse, and a cardigan and moderate heels, if that's your bent. But you would not be trying to fit a mold and you would be trying to show that in your dress. Very unlike the government-agency world my husband is in.

Now I work for the director of a preschool, and if you show up looking like you can dress yourself without help, you're fine.

mapchic
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Posted: 10/10/2012 3:59:09 PM
Pantsuit, dress with a blazer, skirt and sweater set. Something along those lines. I figure I would wear to an interview what I would be wearing if there were clients coming into the office.

It absolutely does depend on the particular job and the industry.

However, I think that part of the trick to dressing for an interview is to dress 'unobtrusively'. Meaning that you clothing choices don't intruded on the decision process.

If you are dressed professionally they the hiring manager can focus on your skills and experience... instead of being distracted by wondering what you were thinking when you got dressed that morning?


Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:20:36 PM
1) I don't work in a library just because I am a librarian.

2) We are a business casual office in the downtown area.

3) She was dressed like a college student going to class. What she wore is fine for day-to-day in this office.

No she was not wearing a dress, a skirt, hose, dressy shoes, a jacket, etc. And she cuts her own hair. She was dressed about like the students we hire to work part time. I admit I was surprised. When I interviewed I wore a suit, I got my hair cut, I wore make up and did my hair. I've also been on numerous hiring committees since I've been here so I've seen many people dressed up for interviews.

beachgurl
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:23:22 PM
Mariah, how do you know she cuts her own hair? Did she actually mention that in an interview?

peasful1
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:42:14 PM
Interesting that the question isn't, 'How dressed up should a candidate be for a high level job interview?" considering you had both a male and female candidate. Depends on the job, I suppose.

CFO of DH's company is in jeans most days. So "high level" can mean something entirely different to you than it would to another person.


Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:50:16 PM
No I could tell. It was... Well, badly done.

I know the other candidate pretty well and in some areas they are even and in a few areas she might be slightly ahead of him.

I guess I'm glad I won't have to make the decision.

I liked what someone else said-- I found her appearance distracted me from the interview bc I was kind of wondering, what was she thinking?

On the other hand I am supposed to be a feminist here. Her clothes were clean and her hair was mostly pulled off her face. So if her hair wasn't cut nicely or she wasn't wearing shoes with a heel so what.

Like I said, she could look like that daily here and it would be just fine. In my own experience interviewees dress up some. She wasn't. At all.
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WorkingClassDog
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:50:51 PM
A nice business suit.. doesn't have to be a skirt, pants are fine. But yes, a suit of some sort.

Dani-Mani
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:53:58 PM
God I hate suits. They're so ugly.

But I have two in my closet for interviews. I can't imagine NIT wearing them and I don't think another outfit is even comparable.

But I do hate them...

JenAllyson
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:56:05 PM
I'd expect someone to be dressed like the ladies in the banana republic catalog.

That being said... I was flown out for an "interview" recently and wore dark jean/slacks and a black knit shirt... Not very classy, but it was a creative position and I work from home so I have no dressy business clothes. Luckily everyone else was wearing jeans too

WorkingClassDog
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:56:29 PM

Wear a damn suit! no hose, though, they are considered outdated now.


Now see I don't see a suit (with a skirt) without hose professional. Outdated or not. It gives a nice finished look, IMO. There is a young girl here at my office who is very very trendy but would never not wear hose when wearing a classic office skirt/blouse.. (not necessarily all the way to a suit, but professional)

But call me outdated...

tamhugh
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:58:53 PM

In my experience a project manager in IT (for example) interviews in a suit, but will probably wear khaki's and a polo on a regular basis. On occasion a suit when they've got open bids for complete integration/phase out of something, but that's about it.


DS is working in sales and marketing for a software firm. He went to his interview in a nice suit and the man who interviewed him was in khakis and a polo. DS made a comment about feeling a little overdressed and they told him that the company was casual, but that it was ALWAYS better to be overdressed for an interview than underdressed. He got the position and went in to his first day in a nice button down, tie, and khakis. The others were all in shorts and flip-flops. His boss laughed and said, "I guess we need to explain an IT company's definition of casual".

SnowWhite.
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Posted: 10/10/2012 4:59:23 PM

On the other hand I am supposed to be a feminist here. Her clothes were clean and her hair was mostly pulled off her face. So if her hair wasn't cut nicely or she wasn't wearing shoes with a heel so what.



I don't see how this is a feminist issue. If the male candidate had shown up wearing something similar, wouldn't you also be appalled?

~dawn

Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:00:33 PM
I worked in publishing and graphics for 13 years and I interviewed for many jobs. It was common to have a bit more flair on interviews. We hired a guy who had hot pink hair and he did a great job. Though I'm not that wild myself I definitely dressed more creatively even on job interviews. This place is rather conservative. it's the first place I've worked where people don't decorate their office doors with cartoons and personal photos.

I don't know, maybe it's that she is not American. Her resume was six pages long. SIX PAGES. Not counting her references and cover letter.

I think that she might have a different perspective on things.

I was just surprised is all. Really surprised. To me, when you are doing public speaking (she had to present) you dress up. Job interview, dress up. First date, dress up!
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:03:35 PM
I guess I shouldn't ever expect to have another job (I've had 3 that were not day care related) I wore a denim skirt, button down blouse and a suede jacket.


I do not own a suit and will not buy one unless the job I am interviewing for calls for it on a daily basis. I have no other reason to wear a suit and I can't spend the money on one just to wear once...or for however long that job lasts. I have changed weight several times throughout my career years, so it seems really silly to me to buy an expensive suit for one or two occasions over several years.

I have dressed nicely, like I would going to church and I have gotten every job dressed like that.

Now, if it's a job working for/with/as a lawyer, a high profile job, or a company that requires dress like that every day, I'd have no issue buying a suit.

Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:08:33 PM
Thanks ~dawn.

I'd the guy interviewing tomorrow wears similar... Well he already works here and that would Be his normal day to day work style. So I guess they would match in terms of casualness.

It was just something I was thinking about. Like, why did it bother me so much, how she was dressed? How she looks has no impact on how she does her job. She won't be dealing with the public or with clients.
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Mariah2
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:13:26 PM
Interesting that the question isn't, 'How dressed up should a candidate be for a high level job interview

----------

I think the issue is different for a man vs a woman. How much do we judge a woman who doesn't wear make up, heels, a skirt, pantyhose, jewelry, or "do" her hair for an interview?

How much of it is judgement of how a woman should look just bc she is a woman?

If a woman comes to an interview with a buzz cut and wears a tie and masculine shoes, do we or do I judge her first as a woman?

That's what I am wrestling with.
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2boysandwill
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:37:00 PM

I think the issue is different for a man vs a woman. How much do we judge a woman who doesn't wear make up, heels, a skirt, pantyhose, jewelry, or "do" her hair for an interview?


In my experience, I don't think gender plays a role at all. A qualified resume is what gets you the interview. A polished appearance makes a great first impression and personality traits help narrow down those that are a great fit for a company.

I've never worked for a company who disqualified someone based on what you described. Pantyhose (IMHO) are a personal preference unless NOT wearing them seem utterly unprofessional (like law offices, etc). Otherwise, pantyhose are nothing but pet peeves.

redayh
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:40:32 PM
A suit. I really don't even understand about dressing any other way for an interview.
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2boysandwill
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Posted: 10/10/2012 5:41:21 PM

If a woman comes to an interview with a buzz cut and wears a tie and masculine shoes, do we or do I judge her first as a woman?


Um, I would imagine that you would treat/judge all your candidates as a PEOPLE. I'm not understanding why you are wrestling with gender oriented issues.
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