Women: What you “can” wear to a job search interview

Hello there.  I’m not here to be contraversial.  But I do want to be real.

On the Recruiting Blogs website there was a post written that rubbed some people the wrong way.  It was written by Dave Thomas, titled Women Dressing for Success in the Workplace. Read the comments to see why it rubbed people the wrong way.  In the comments, Dave says something I find interesting:

While I do not judge women by their clothes at work, whether we like it or not, there still is a stereotype out there.

I disagree. I think he does judge women by their clothes at work.

In fact, I think WE ALL judge women, and men, by what they choose to wear at work.  Or how they have their hair.  Or their tattoos (or lack thereof).

We are a judging people.  Every last one of us, even the ones who say they don’t judge.  Judging and stereotyping is just part of what we do.

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.  But I would like to say that how you choose to communicate non-verbally, with the clothes (and many other non-verbal queues), has an impact on getting and/or keeping a job.

Whether that is right or wrong, that’s been my observation.

Take, for example, the interviewee who decides to dress somewhat risque, for that particular office culture or town.  When they come into the office, and wait with the others, people in the office talk.  It’s a reality – I’ve seen it plenty of times. People are judging/stereotyping and trying to figure out if that person would really fit into that office culture – without knowing anything about them! And then they go into the conference room.  And people talk more, and whisper with one another…

After the interviews, other managers (my peers) would ask “what about that one girl with the short skirt?”

That’s how they remember her.  When men ask it, it means something (“she’s hot – wink wink”).  When women ask it, it might mean something else (Oh.My.Gosh.).  If HR or senior management asks, it might mean something else (lack of judgement / sexual harrassment lawsuit)?

No one says this stuff, because it would be wrong to say.  But my judgement is being watched by many people.  Do I hire the most qualified?  Do I hire the person who would fit in, culturally?  Do I hire the person who I think is hot?


And I want to make sure I don’t do something that will give cause for ME to be stereotyped, right?

All I’m saying is this: how you communicate (verbally and non-verbally, but here, specifically how you dress), will have an impact on the outcome of your interview.

Want more?  Check out two of my favorite blog posts:

Dress for Failure for Women

Dress for Failure (for men)

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