Monday, April 28, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #16

Practice Makes Perfect

So...I HAVE AN ON-CAMPUS INTERVIEW!!!!! I received the call late last week that I was selected as a finalist for the Associate Director of Employer Relations position!  On Thursday I will head to campus to meet with the hiring manager, the staff, as well as students and alumni. I am super jazzed about it and look forward to having an honest assessment of whether the position will be a good fit for me and my career interests.

Luckily, I won't have to prepare anything in terms of a formal presentation, but I intend to ask the hiring manager ahead of the interview as to how I should prepare for the conversations. In the past, I was always hesitant to ask that question because I didn't want to appear like I was "brown nosing", but I've learned that it is better to ask more so because it shows a commitment to preparing for the interview AND it only helps me be more effective and focused during the interview. So here's hoping that it goes well!

My biggest concern at this point is what to do about my appearance. I am a male (if that wasn't already clear), and while I'm not claiming to have it worse than women as far as professional dress code standards, I have always had to fight against the "rule" about facial hair/piercings. If you're unfamiliar, the rule is: men should be clean shaven with nothing visible. It is particularly salient in the private sector corporate culture as a signifier of being well-groomed. Thus, for years during previous job hunts, I would go through painstaking lengths to get myself to a barber before an interview for fear of not appearing "professional".

As I am looking to get into the field of education, I don't know what's considered "appropriate" for the work place. My assumption is that it doesn't matter, but I am cautious enough that I would want to err on the side of caution. I'll be honest though, if I really lost out on a job because of my appearance, I would say "good riddance" anyway because that kind of snap judgment is just ridiculous and a load of BS. What's on my face isn't a representation of what's inside my head, so to that I say, get over it.  Anyhow, I will report back on what I decide to do as far as appearance next week!

I'll end this post with a great article that one of my cohort-mates shared with me about recognizing the signs for a bad boss. I will definitely keep these signs in mind and will share next week if I noticed any of these. 


  1. I hope your interview went well. I know how stressful the job hunt can be and I wish you every success. I wanted to comment on your discussion regarding appearance. For my center, I hire all levels of staff, from professional to student workers. I am often surprised at the lack of care people show in their appearance for a job interview. It's not about beards and tattoos or piercing, but the ability of the interviewee to correctly determine what is appropriate to wear to an interview.

    For a student worker, I expect clean, non-revealing clothes that are a step above what the student might wear to class. For a entry or mid-level professional position, I expect a jacket, tie and slacks. For senior level, a suit ( or female equivalent). For all levels, I've been amazed at what people have worn to interviews.

    You're not competing against yourself for the job, you're competing against other candidates who have been selected by someone like myself or a committee. Generally everyone is equally qualified, so we spend a lot of time looking for a person who will fit in with the team, who we wouldn't mind sharing an office with and who we think will manage the position in a way that's good for the department.

    Sometimes, appearance is more important... If you were going to be working with older alumni in a development position, appearance might be critical. Remember, it's not if YOU can do the job, its if you can do it better than my next interviewee.

    When students for whom I am a reference ask me how they should dress as they start their first post-college job search, I know they want me to tell them that it won't matter. My answer is always, "look at the culture of the company, and what you'll be doing on a daily basis." For the interview, dress one step above what you would most likely wear on a daily basis at the least. Though a suit will never hurt." After you're hired, you can learn about the office culture and determine your dress code based off that.

    For your hair and beard, if you're clean and look like you care for your personal appearance (no matter how you develop or show that appearance) I think it won't be an issue. Again, hope it went well.

    1. Thank you so much Anonymous for the great feedback and advice! I completely agree with you and I too am amazed at how little attention others give to dressing the part for the interview. The interview did go well, and I stuck with my guns and kept my appearance how I wanted it. Unfortunately I didn't get the job (see the next post), but I definitely appreciate you sharing your perspective and I hope you will continue to engage in my future posts. So sorry it took me a while to get back!