I have been asked many times what the dress code will be for an interview. Whilst it seems like a question with a straightforward answer, it isn’t always that simple! When your clients are pharmaceutical and biotech businesses it obviously raises the question in a candidate’s head “What is the dress code?”, because no-one wants to be under-dressed or over-dressed.
A couple of examples come to mind.
On the one hand, I made a candidate aware what dress code is expected of them - which was business attire - but unfortunately, they still turned up not dressed accordingly i.e.: green coloured t-shirt and a tracksuit…at a pharmaceutical company! On the other hand, one of my colleagues, who mainly works with engineering-type businesses, told a young lad that he didn’t need to dress in a suit as he will be taken around the warehouse area where his future colleagues will be carrying out welding work etc. He still decided to wear a suit and got offered the job because they were so surprised by the fact he made the effort, which also validates the point of “dare to be different”. There is no hard and fast rule about dress codes, which is where it can get very complex.
Art, media and fashion industries allow you to be more creative and show off your personality when dressing for an interview. However, when it comes to pharmaceutical, laboratory testing or bio-pharmaceutical companies - which operate within highly regulated environments - the dress code in most cases is often business attire, BUT with the added dimension of: flat shoes, long hair tied up, no make-up, no jewellery and no hair products. The reason for these points is in most cases the interview includes a laboratory / GMP tour therefore you would have to go into a different grade area where potential contamination of the product can occur if not adhering to instructions for dress code. It is hard not to look a bit scruffy when you have to look smart but cannot wear hair products, make-up, heels or jewellery!
Remember the saying “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Thinking about what to wear in an interview is a big part of making this important impression, and it isn’t easy when you are not sure of what is expected, or if you have you DO know what is expected but it is restrictive. Above all, it is always important to look professional to make a good first impression no matter what.
P.s.: my colleague told the story about someone who turned up for an interview in their hot pants for an office position. Do you think she’s got the job??!!