A few months ago, as I was conducting a search for a "C" level executive for a very well known healthcare organization. Let's just say it’s a marquis name OK? The initial interviews were done by phone and then followed up with either a video interview or an in-person interview with each candidate and myself - depending on scheduling. This is done for a variety of reasons including to really give the search consultant a better feel for each candidate being considered. Clearly this was a very prestigious client I was working for. One might assume that any candidate competing for this position with this institution would naturally put his or her best foot forward. Well...maybe not:-) Are you ready for this? Here we go…
I scheduled the in-person interview over breakfast (my partner in crime Gwen Darling touched on this subject last year in her blog) to see the other side of this star candidate. Breaking bread with a candidate can tell me a lot! He was prompt and on time when he arrived. However, Mr. GQ decided to wear a Members Only jacket to the interview so he could display his knowledge of "dress for success". What? A Members Only jacket? I wanted to say to him - "are you kidding me" What were you thinking? Or maybe, ‘How’s that working for you”?
The sad part is that he had great skills and matched most of the job specifications to a T. Here's the problem: He made the choice to dress casually for a very important interview for a very well known healthcare organization and – a great job. His business acumen led me to believe that he did not give much thought to what he should wear. C’mon! His decision making on what to wear really came into question here. I coached him about his attire and then, like Simon on American Idol – I had to let him know that he would not be going to the next round. It was painful – but it was the right call.
I always recommend to all of my candidates to dress appropriately when going on a face-to face interview. Suit up…Period. Usually a dark or grey suit – they never go out of style. It’s always safe, it’s always smart and it just makes good business sense. Although we, as a country are still in somewhat of a "business casual dress" mode in many work environments, don't take that chance when you are interviewing for a very high level "C-level" position - with the potential employer OR the search consultant.
Dumb move - just plain dumb! When in doubt - suit up!