Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Suits or No Suits

suit After reading Ellen: Dressing for Success from CEC Blog, where the author asks,

“For how many of you readers is a suit the be-all and end-all of interview attire?”

I couldn’t resist answering the question.

When I went to interview for my first teaching job, I bought a nice skirt suit. It was my very first suit and it made me feel professional and confident. Then next 4 times over my career that I went for an interview, I wore an outfit that made me feel slender, confident, and professional but it wasn’t a suit. After all of my interviews I had been offered the job.

I feel it is important to look neat, comfortable and professional. That is more important than whether it is a suit or not. First impressions can say a lot about a person. Sometimes this is more important than what you say.

I am not impressed if someone doesn’t take the effort to dress with care as if this interview is not important to them. That careless attitude reflects on the type of job they might do. Even if they are a great teacher, if they don’t care enough to dress professionally, then it will be hard for me to focus on what they actually can do.

I have interviewed some teachers that wore a suit and were so uncomfortable in their outfits that it brought attention to it. This distracted me from the interview process and probably hurt their chances because they didn’t act in a confident manner. In fact, it seemed as if they were just pretending by wearing an outfit that they weren’t used to wearing. If they are pretending about their clothes, what else are they pretending to be? I would rather a candidate wear something professional and comfortable than just worrying about whether it is a suit or not.

If you are determined to wear a new suit to an interview, I suggest getting used to it like you would a new pair of shoes. Wear it to a few events where it won’t matter if at first you seem uncomfortable. The more you wear it, the more accustomed you will be in your outfit. When I buy a new pair of hiking boots, I may wear them for a day or two around the house so my feet get comfortable wearing them. The same should apply to a suit. If you are comfortable in your outfit, you can emphasize your strengths without worrying about how you look.

Even though your outfit should not be the most important aspect, it is the thing that gets your “foot in the door.” Unfortunately if you aren’t dressed appropriately, most interviewers will write you off. Sure, they might let you have your say but during the interview they might not give you the attention you deserve. I’m not saying that is right but it is human nature. So, whether you wear a suit or not, it is how you present yourself that is most important. It is this attitude that will help you be more successful.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with this?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'untitled' by: Faramarz Hashemi


Nick James said...

I think that dressing professionally for an interview is crucial to its success. If you can't dress yourself appropriately for that it is unlikely you'll be dressing yourself appropriately once hired. Too many teachers dress down on a daily basis citing "comfort" or some other reason for doing so, when in fact they're probably just lazy or are unaware of how other professionals dress.

Clix said...

See, I don't get this. How is it "lazy" to wear clean, modest attire that is made of cotton rather than polyester, wool, or rayon? Why are heavy pants more acceptable if they're tan instead of blue?

It's annoying, frustrating, and even insulting.