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Dressing for interviews

Merry Tuesday, all!  Hope you have the day off and that you are able to enjoy friends and family on this national holiday.

So yesterday I had an in-person interview.  I dressed nicely and showed up on time and we had lively discussions about the people and the work and at the end, I had a verbal promise for an offer later in the week.

So I guess that went OK.

Today one of my blog feeds pointed me to a “funny” post about interview screwups… I’m rather glad I didn’t get it earlier as it probably would have fed my nervousness.  One of the stories describes a guy who wore a “poorly-fitting” suit and sneakers to an interview for a programming job.  He also wandered away from the interview room while unattended, and was found (after a search) browsing the bookshelves in a private office. He didn’t get the job, despite an excellent resume and recommendations.

The comments section was full of people who felt it was unreasonable to discount the guy for his clothing choices.  Several posters appeared to feel very strongly about this.   Their position:  what does it matter how a programmer dresses, as long as his technical skills are good?

I often use this space to see how other peoples’ opinions differ from mine, and to test the validity of my own opinions.  So here’s my opinion – tell  me how I’m wrong: 

An interview is an attempt to determine whether the applicant can do the job.  Most jobs involve some element of working with other people – in a programming job, for example, often several people need to work together to produce a single final product.  There may also be interaction with the potential end-users.  All of this requires some basic minimum in social and communication skills. How do you know if an applicant has that basic minimum social competency?  Well, someone who isn’t aware of common clothing conventions, or typical rules of public and private space, is probably a little weak on other social conventions as well.  And therefore that person is a poor candidate for a job involving interaction with other people, no matter how strong his tech skilz.

So am I wrong?


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