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Career Coach

Interview Faux Pas

Published October 21, 2015 9:02 AM by Renee Dahring
Have you ever been on a job interview that seemed to go well yet you never received a job offer? If I learned anything during the time I was recruiting it was that a candidate's perception of a successful interview can differ wildly from what a potential employer may perceive. 

As a recruiter my job was to follow up with both parties after an interview. Feedback I received from candidates would fall into what I would categorize as being on a more "feeling" or emotional level. The candidates take on the interview will be more subjective and tend to focus on whether or not they "connected" with the interviewer. Was the reception warm, did they make small talk or share a laugh?  If those things happened then the candidate felt fairly positive about the encounter. I chalk this up to nerves and the stress of interviewing.

From the employer perspective those things are important too. I have written before about the employer's strong motivation to find someone who is a good fit for the workplace culture. But the interviewer will be evaluating much more than good feelings during an interview. From the minute you walk in the door your interviewer will be evaluating a number of non-verbal cues. The interviewer will taking note of your posture and body language. Your attire will also be scrutinized. 

And unfortunately interviewers can be tuned in to what you might consider some pretty picky details too. I have sent a good number of candidates with stellar resumes and qualifications to an interview only to receive surprisingly negative feedback afterwards.  

These are the top complaints of hiring managers after an interview.

  • Inappropriate attire. No matter how casual the clinic atmosphere may be candidates are still expected to show up to the interview wearing business formal. Ladies, this means no open toed shoes or low cut blouses. Suits and ties for gentlemen. And make sure your dress clothes are from this decade - and fit properly. Outdated styles leave the wrong impression.

  • Too much perfume/cologne/makeup/jewelry - take your pick. Any or all of these are a serious mistake. I was doing an interview once where the applicant showed up wearing bright white eyeshadow. Honestly, that is all I could look at the entire time. Too bad for her that I was completely unable to focus on her qualifications. Remember, it's an interview not a date. Keep it simple and go fragrance free.

  • Consult your hairstylist before you begin your job search. This goes for both men and women. Negative feedback from interviewers about messy or poorly styled hair is more common than you imagine. Just as clothing can give the wrong impression so can a bad hair style or lack of hair style.

 You want an interviewer to remember you for your poise and skills and not be distracted by fashion faux pas.


I agree this is a reality & appreciate the reminder that we should remember to look like the professionals we are.  However, shouldn't someone also be reminding these interviewers that they are no longer in high school, & whether or not an individual would fit into the "in crowd" is not the point?  Candidates should obviously avoid stupid mistakes, but discrimination based on fashion can be an excuse for discrimination based on age or ethnic group.

Betty, FNP-C November 13, 2015 7:58 AM
Joplin MO

Seems pretty shallow.  While I would expect any NP to show up to an interview clean, neat and well groomed - hair included, I wonder how many good np's they lose, to gain some one not as good because they focus on the wrong things.

Teresa, ARNP November 13, 2015 1:12 AM

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About this Blog

    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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