Friday, December 26, 2014

Stupid rules of the workplace: Dressing for a job interview

One of the most pointless causes of stress in the workplace is "what to wear to a job interview."  You know you're going to be judged based on what you wear, yet you're forbidden access to the simplest and most accurate method of determining what the correct thing to wear is.

Once upon a time, or so I've been told, it was simple:  A job applicant going for an interview was to wear a suit and tie.  (I'm going to restrict my discussion here to male clothing options, to keep the phrasing from getting ponderous, but rest assured that everything I say here applies to women, with the multiplying factor of sexualization of women's clothing, which I'm not even going to begin to address here.)

Anyway, suit and tie.  Because that's what you'd be wearing once you got the job.  Then organizations started changing their dress codes.  Some clung to the old suit and tie.  Some loosened up as far as khakis and a nice shirt, but jeans were still off the table.  Others adopted an "anything goes" approach.  Sartorial choices for job interviews were thrown into turmoil.  And how did the job-hunting gurus adapt to this turmoil?  By offering conflicting advice.  Some said to stick with the suit and tie.  Others said to look at what people in the office you'd be interviewing at are wearing, then match that.  Still others said to look at what the people in the office are wearing, then dress one step more formal that that.

Of course, none of the gurus stated the actual proper thing to wear, because it would only serve to point out the method of information-gathering that job-hunters are pointlessly forbidden access to (that I mentioned in the first paragraph).  The proper thing to wear to a job interview is, of course, whatever the person interviewing you wants you to wear.  And the forbidden information-gathering technique?  Asking them.

Seriously.  Imagine how much simpler it would make all of our lives.
HIRING MANAGER:  So, our interview's for Tuesday at 9.  Do you have any further questions before then?
APPLICANT:  Yes.  How would you like me to dress?
HIRING MANAGER:  Well, we typically dress business casual here, but I'd like to see you in a suit and tie.

Just like that.  Under a minute, pointless source of workplace stress eliminated.  I'd love to see this become the norm.