Written by: Amber Bieneck Thom
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of job searches and interviews, tattoos and piercings…”
Okay… so that isn’t really what the walrus from Alice in Wonderland said, but as Spring semester marches on, many students are preparing for job and internship interviews and are left with questions about interview etiquette. Most of the common concerns center around “What do I say?!” and “What should I wear?!” but sometimes there are questions about what to do with piercings, tattoos, hairdos and even beards. “Will I get turned down if I leave my nose piercing in??” and other similar questions often cross the minds of job seekers, and it makes for an even more stressful job search experience.
Unfortunately, there is no single definitive answer to these questions. (Sorry!) There are a ton of factors that can come into play regarding body modifications and appearance preferences when it comes to a job search – company culture & dress code, interviewer preferences, industry, job type and more can all play a role in an employer’s ultimate decision about an applicant.
While it stinks to consider that an applicant might ultimately be turned down because of superficial factors, it certainly happens. (And it’s not illegal.) Like I said before, there’s no “answer,” but there are a few things applicants should think about ahead of time that can make the whole interview and search process a little less stressful:
- Know Yourself.
For some people, body modifications and their appearance preferences are very important, if not integral to who they are as a person. For others, not so much. Before an interview, consider what, and how much you’re willing to compromise for the job. If it’s your dream job, and you’d be happy to give up your nose piercing to make sure you land the gig, do it. If you don’t want to work somewhere that you believe would force you to take it out, thus changing an important part of yourself, that’s fine too. Wearing less-noticeable plastic retainer jewelry while you’re at work, and swapping for the “fun” stuff when you’re going out might be a good compromise
Don’t do anything that would make you truly unhappy, but be realistic and recognize that might create a barrier for some employers. Know ahead of time what changes you’re willing, or not willing to make.
- Know the employer.
Before the interview (and maybe before you even apply!) check and see if the company has a dress code (a google search would probably suffice here), and talk to other people that work there or in the industry to figure out what the culture is like. Is this the sort of employer or field where a tattoo on the wrist is okay, or is it absolutely forbidden? As a rule of thumb, remember the more “professional” the business or industry, the less freedom there will be, due to their desire to maintain a certain image.
- Tone it down.
If you decide not to remove your piercings or totally cover tattoos, you might want to consider toning it down a bit – especially for an interview. Remember, first impressions are SUPER IMPORTANT, and you don’t want the interviewer to be distracted from YOU, and your awesome qualifications! For example, switching to simple, sophisticated jewelry or trimming facial hair can go a long way when it comes to putting your best foot forward as a job candidate!