The Importance of Appearances
Appearances are a touchy subject. Every time I write a blog on proper attire and grooming for an interview I can count on receiving a few comments from readers who take issue with my advice. Since I have devoted more than a few blogs to this topic and obviously it seems to hit a nerve with my audience it seems like a good idea to address some of my feedback.
Some of you wonder why I come back to this topic so frequently so perhaps I haven't made a good enough case as to why appearances matter, or to be more specific, WHY they SHOULD matter. I certainly applaud those of you who can look beyond appearance - it's an admirable trait and it says a great deal about your character. As healthcare providers we pride ourselves on being non-judgmental. We are educated to look for the positive and avoid stereotyping. But an interview is not a provider-patient relationship.
Employers are running a business and are seeking individuals who fit the image the organization is trying to project to the public. You, as their potential employee, are the face of their clinic or hospital. As a provider you are the point of contact for their clients - or in this day and age we call them customers. While customer may not seem so politically correct you have to agree that if anyone who is filling out a satisfaction survey could be deemed a customer.
You, as the job seeker making a first impression, should dress in a manner that tells the prospective employer you respect them and the opportunity they are extending to you. When you show up at an interview looking less than business professional you are sending the wrong message. The message is that you don't take the job seriously, at least not seriously enough to dress the part. Employers tell me all the time that even though a dress suit is not expected daily wear for the job they still expect the candidate to wear one to the interview.
Some readers took issue with my assertion that your attire must be contemporary and not outdated. I understand that on the surface this too seems rather superficial, but I ask you again to look at the image you are sending. Dated clothing and hairstyles signal to the interviewer that you are out of touch or even worse is that you simply don't care. While not caring what others think might work in some settings it doesn't fly in an interview. Dressing as if you missed the last decade or two gives the impression you are behind the times in general. Out of touch with current trends is not an image any healthcare organization wishes to portray.
Our personal appearance should reflect the fact that we are respected professionals and we should dress in accordance. If you don't believe me just take a quick look at some marketing materials. Clinic brochures and websites only include employees that are smartly dressed and groomed.