On Showing Up for Interviews

by | Feb 17, 2022 | General | 0 comments

Emem was disqualified from participating in an interview. Reasons cited were inappropriate dressing and not showing up with her CV.

I have had the privilege of interviewing people for over 15 years. In that time, I have processed thousands of applications. In the last month alone I have seen close to a 100 candidates.

I remember, when I interviewed @Khadijah, it must have been in 2007, when I was the Head of HR at @Interswitch. I am sure she can’t remember now, besides, she is now a big woman at @Paystack😀. She wore blue jeans and a shouting green shirt with a black waist coat. At the time, the dress code at Interswitch was formal. I mean very formal, suit and tie.

I found Khadijah witty and cheery and we continued the interview. What about her dress sense? I considered it a coaching opportunity. I brought it to her attention that jeans weren’t the most appropriate outfit for an interview. I figured people assumed IT firms had casual dress codes. We were a fintech, and at the time, we dressed liked our clients who were mostly banks. Khadijah was still smiling when she left the interview. She ended up being a great hire who went on to contribute immensely to the organisation.

For adequate interview preparation, I advise candidates to always investigate the dress code of a company before an interview. Aim to match your potential employer’s dress code. When in doubt, dress formal. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, being underdressed can be embarrassing.

Two weeks ago, I interviewed about 50 of candidates. I saw all sorts of dress styles. I remember one candidate wearing a beach shirt. One male wore a bright lilac jacket. One wore sandals. Several wore ‘jump up’ trousers, I figured that’s the new fashion. Some made an effort to look smart, others looked clueless.

Then it was Mmesoma’s turn, she sat down and we began talking. Big smile, very pleasant personality.  I probably wouldn’t have noticed if she was the first candidate. All the others had handed in their CVs to me once we started, which I always handed back by the way. She confirmed she didn’t bring her CV. She said it wasn’t requested. Again, I considered it a coaching opportunity. I let her know it would in no way reduce her chances of getting a job if she did a good interview. I explained that the candidates who introduced themselves and handed in their CVs, seemed more prepared. It is what it is.

I don’t like the idea of printing unnecessarily.  I however, advise that candidates should keep a paper copy of their CV for their records. Same way we keep important documents like certificates. I have heard people argue that they shouldn’t bring their CVs to interviews, as it has already been sent via email. You may be right about that, besides, not printing is definitely more planet friendly. I still advise that an interview is not the right forum to test your ability to win an argument. It also doesn’t change the fact that the person interviewing you may be ‘old school’ and prefer a paper copy. We will work on the campaign to stop printing of CVs😀. For now, while the oldies are still interviewing, please have your CV handy.

Now, what do I think about Emem’s dressing for the interview?

Unless she was specifically asked to dress a certain way, I see nothing wrong with her appearance. If she was interviewing for a bank, perhaps she could have worn a suit in a boring colour like grey, black or navy blue.

Either way, in my opinion, she should never have been denied an interview or disqualified based on her dressing or not having her CV. It should have been a coaching opportunity in the least, not a humiliating experience.

Your thoughts?

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