Yes. You can actually overdress for your job interview. You won’t hear this often at SprintHQ but from time to time, we do have to tell candidates to leave the high heels at home and put the red lippy back in your bag for a later date.
We once met with a candidate by the name of Kathy. It was very apparent to us as soon we saw her CV that she was the right candidate for the job. She had the right skillset and the previous roles she had been working in, the industries were closely aligned. It was clear as day.
However, no sooner had we bought Kathy in for an interview than we realised she had already met with the hiring manager and been turned down for the exact role. We literally had to pick our mouths up off the floor. She was perfect.
So we dug a little deeper. It turns out that Kathy had applied directly with the client for the role. We just couldn’t understand why she wasn’t hired so we called our client to speak with them about this candidate and to understand what we were missing (it’s not often we get this wrong!).
What Went Wrong
It turns out that Kathy had worn some super serious high heels, a black tailored pencil skirt and a bright red lipstick to her interview. Normally, great. However, this client was in the advertising agency world and everyone else was dressed in jeans and trainers. Including the MD. So even though Kathy had worked in other agencies that appreciated her appetite for 6 inch heels, this particular MD felt that she would inadvertently intimidate the other team members and assumed that she would not fit into the more casual style work environment.
With a little counselling and guidance from our Sprint Consultant, the hiring manager agreed to re-meet with Kathy and see if there was a way to overlook the initial first impression.
This is why we love what we do. By working through the initial perception with the client, and briefing Kathy fully on the business culture and company, she went back in for another interview (in her smaller high heels, with jeans and clear lip gloss). And you know what? 3 years later, Kathy is still loving her job and the client recently asked us to find us another candidate “just like Kathy” to add to the team.
This really all comes down to doing your homework and making sure you understand the company you are going to your interview for. Sometimes even the best of intentions don’t get the best results. Whether you are overdressing or underdressing for an interview, make sure you research the company and don’t underestimate the power of first impressions. It can cost you your dream job – without you even realising!