As agribusiness employers, we typically have high expectations for the candidates we interview. Arrive on time, come prepared with questions, and conduct yourself professionally. This includes dress. While interviewees are held to high standards, does the hiring manager in your organization hold him or herself to those same standards of professionalism, including appearance? How an interviewer dresses can tell the candidate a lot about the organization and its culture. Here are some tips for conveying this truthfully but still making known that you also came prepared and are taking this interview seriously.
Why the Hiring Manager Should Dress Well
Why does it matter, you ask? You might feel like you’ve got the upper hand here–that your candidates want to work for YOU, after all. THEY are the ones needing to make an impression. But in this job seekers’ market, your impression matters just as much. A candidate will judge on your appearance. It will reveal to them whether or not you take your role seriously, your workplace culture, your expectations for your employees, whether or not your in-person brand matches your online presence, and whether or not the workplace environment is friendly and comfortable. With all that being said, dress in such a way that your candidate could conclude favorably that your organization is the place they would like to work for.
Dress as Usual, but Your Best Usual
In agriculture, we work in all kinds of different environments. You might regularly be outside or in a production-focused area such as a feed mill, a barn, a lab, or a factory floor. You might also be working alongside the C-Suite on the 32nd floor of a skyscraper. Before you interview a candidate, think about what you would wear on any other day. Is your attire business professional? Or is it business casual? Do you usually just wear jeans and a t-shirt to work? That’s all great! And as the hiring manager, your appearance conveys what your workplace culture is like.
But remember, you have a brand to represent, whether it’s on the farm or in the office. If your attire is jeans and a t-shirt, opt instead for a nice pair of jeans and a button-up plaid shirt with nice shoes. If your attire is business casual, be sure to wear a notch above what you would normally wear. So your nicest polo and khakis with your best shoes. If your attire is business professional, you’d best believe you’re breaking out those designer heels and suit.
A lot of offices have Casual Friday. If an interview falls on this day, you’ll live without your jeans till the next Friday. Opt instead for what you would wear on a normal business day.
Even if Acceptable, Remain Appropriate
I don’t think twice about wearing a sleeveless top to work in the summer. But I wouldn’t wear one on interview day. The hiring manager should wear what they, and what any management anywhere, would deem workplace appropriate. Our friend in the photo accompanying this blog post is pushing the limits in her tight, short, and likely cleavage-bearing dress. Remember to keep it classy for the candidates. Also, don’t wear anything you would wear to the beach (flip flops) or to work out (running shoes, sweatpants, etc.). This will send a bad message regardless of where you work.
Costume Day? Bring a Change of Clothes
We have a very fun and laid-back atmosphere at AgCareers.com. We like to do dress-up days every once in a while, in fact, and Halloween is one of my favorite days to show off a fun costume. However, this past Halloween, I wasn’t sure what to wear, as we were interviewing a potential intern that day. I decided in favor of my Rosie the Riveter costume since I had a complicated hairdo that went with it and I thought it would look ridiculous even if I did have a change of clothes. Plus, I thought it might show the candidate how fun our office environment was. While the interview went fine, I can’t help but think that I gave our candidate a negative impression. My coworker who also interviewed alongside me brought a clothing change and appeared far more professional than I did in a navy jumpsuit and work boots. While our candidate did receive a job offer and accepted it, I still regret my choice and would opt for a change the next time around.
You’d likely notice if a candidate interviewed with messy hair and unclean fingernails. In this instance, be sure to hold yourself to that same standard as a hiring manager. Shave, comb your hair, clip your fingernails, iron your shirt and slacks, wear deodorant, spit out your gum, and be sure your breath doesn’t smell. If you would take care of these things if you were the candidate, be sure to take care of them as the hiring manager as well.
Have an interview coming up? Check out our Interviewing blogs here on Talent Harvest for more tips.