Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a client at a Restaurant Management Career Fair. Looking around, the job candidates were looking sharp in their suits, shirt & ties, slacks, skirts, etc. They all presented very professional images.
As the client and I continued to talk, we both noticed a job candidate enter the event who appeared to be at once both prepared and unprepared for interviewing.
We could see he came well equipped with an envelope full of nice looking resumes (I made it a point to peek over his shoulder), a couple of pens, and a smile on his face. All signs of excellent interview preparation.
The problem was that he seemed to have left his sense of personal image at home.
His shirt was wrinkled and completely untucked, his shoes looked like they were probably his work shoes (a colorful collage of food particles and stains), he had at least a days worth of facial stubble, and his hair looked like he had just stepped out of a wind tunnel. With attention to detail being such a huge part of any hospitality operation (restaurant, hotel, or club), all I could do was cringe a little and say, Yikes!!
Being the inquisitive type, I decided to play “fly on the wall” and followed him over to a company’s booth for his first interview. As “we” approached, I could see that the recruiters were having the same reaction as my client and I had just had. As I eavesdropped from off to the side, I quickly learned that the job seeker was a very experienced and enthusiastic Kitchen Manager with a very good track record of success and a solid work history with some major high-volume restaurant chains. Based on what was discussed, he seemed to have the work skills and energy level that would be needed for the position.
After the interview was done and he had left the booth, I stuck around a bit longer to see what the recruiters might have to say to each other. As expected, their conversation quickly confirmed that they thought he had both the technical and management skills needed for the job but were very much concerned about how his lack of concern for his personal appearance might reflect itself in meeting other aspects of the job responsibilities and restaurant’s goals. (Note – Restaurant recruiters are used to seeing managers and chefs come straight from their jobs and bringing along all the assorted stains that they manages to collect in their +10 hour days. The big difference here is that this job seeker hadn’t even made an effort to “tidy” himself up or even shave that morning…)
Overall it sounded like the candidate might get a second interview from that particular company, but he will be fighting an up hill battle to convince the next interviewer that he is the right one for the position if he appears as rumpled as he did at the Job Fair.
No matter what the interview setting, ALWAYS make sure you are portraying a professional image of your job skills and of your self. Dress for success!!
- A suit or a dress shirt & tie (with or without a jacket/sport coat) are usually your best choices. Shirts should be completely tucked in. No jeans, T-shirts, shorts, brightly colored clothing or flashy accessories. Make sure your clothes are cleaned and pressed.
- Shoes should be clean and ideally polished leather. No flip-flops, no athletic shoes, no sandals, etc.
- Fingernails should be clean and trimmed.
- We recommend going with a simple or conservative dress, pant suit, or blouse and skirt/slacks combination.
- Makeup should restrained.
- Fingernail polish and/or decoration should be simple and subdued.
- Follow proper grooming decorum: shower/bathe, brush, floss, shave, etc. the day of the interview(s).
- Bring along breath fresheners/mints/gum if needed, but use them prior to entering the interview and never during the meeting.
- Hair should be clean and well groomed.
- Go easy on the cologne or perfume.
- Footwear should be conservative.