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Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?

Picture of Paulette JM, CCS
Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Paulette JM, CCS - Saturday, 8 December 2012, 9:28 PM

I found an interesting piece of information regarding acquiring the first coding job, and honestly I was sort of surprised to find.  In the past, when I have interviewed for a position, I try to be modest, but yet professional.  I have always been a business suit type.  I have never been able to wear high heels anyway, but I found this really interesting.  I thought it might come of some help for some of us who have never worked in a medical office environment going on an interview.  Please read below and comment on your thoughts. :)  Of course, some of it is no-brainer information, but some I really never gave much thought. 

"Hospitals have dress codes that may prohibit open-toe shoes, stiletto heels, platform soles, denim twill fabric regardless of color, sleeveless or low-cut tops, bare legs, sandals, hair on the collar or shoulders, artificial nails, nails in excess of .25 inch, perfume, anythng more than very minimal jewelry, dangly earrings, anything torn even if you bought it that way, tattoos, slacks above the ankle, shorts, casual wear, t-shirts, dark lenses, more than minimal makeup . . . and they are serius about it. It pays to find out what they require in advance because if you show up at the interview wearing something verboten, they ARE going to see it instantly."  

Linda Andrews, Director
Re: Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Linda Andrews - Sunday, 9 December 2012, 1:19 PM

That is interesting. It's actually very good advice. 

I'll address this in general, not to you, so when I use 'you' here, I'm talking to the global  you, not you specifically. :)

I do believe that it's always a good idea to dress conservatively for a job interview, although you don't have to be boring about it. You don't really know who will be interviewing you, observing you, or making the final hiring decision about you. They may despise dangly earrings or green fingernail polish. To me it just makes common sense to find something to wear that covers all the bases, so to speak. If something is a deal-breaker for you, try doing it your way if you really feel that you have to and see what happens. You wouldn't want that job anyway, right? You may limit yourself from jobs that way, but if it's worth it to you, that's a choice you get to make for yourself.

Most employers don't want to notice scents or odors. That's pretty much a given.

Most employers don't want to see anything that makes them go Yuck! That's common sense.

You probably won't lose a job over wearing open-toe shoes or platform soles to an interview, although you  might lose it with stiletto heels or sandals. Hair on the collar or shoulders wouldn't offend me if I were doing the interviewing, and I have interviewed  hundreds of people. I might say to someone, "Your resume is excellent. You've done a great job in your interview here today. If you are hired, you will have to wear tops that are a little more modest for the office environment. I believe you can do that. Do you have an objection to it? If not, you're hired."  :)  Others might not feel comfortable mentioning it, so they may just eliminate you from consideration.

Seriously, if I were going for an interview, I would go for a classic business look. Even very short heels are probably better than flats, and a lot better than stilettos. I would wear dignified or classic earrings and maybe a modest, non-clanky necklace. Be careful about faddish rings, clanky, huge necklaces that 'make a statement' or bracelets that jangle, make noice or otherwise distract. In fact, anything that distracts or gets noticed, is probably something you should consider not wearing to a job interview.  I would check the eyeliner and eyeshadow and make sure that it looks close to natural, not clownish.

One of our male graduates lost a really good job once. The manager called me to let me know why. He said the interview was excellent, but his after-shave lotion kept him from getting the job.

In most cases the employer wants to hire someone who has the skills and doesn't appear to be clueless about common sense. If you dress or act in a way that is going to distract others, they probably won't want you.  This kind of thing comes naturally to most of us.  I would have some very strong advice to anyone who knows that it doesn't come naturally to them. Get some help from several sources. You can get help from sales clerks, but don't stop there. Ask a friend or acquaintance who is a businessperson to approve your look. Ask them not to just tell you what you want to hear. Ask them to tell you what you NEED to hear.  Try not to get bent out of shape when they say, "Alright, I'll do that. Here's what I recommend. First, cover the tattoo. Dump the dangling earrings and rings that look like brass knuckles. Use a little less eye makeup. Purple nail polish? Replace that with a natural color, and that perfume is overpowering."    When your friend tells you these things, try not to hate them. Don't say, "YES, BUT..."  Just listen and take notes. You don't need nose rings in order to express yourself at work. Depend on your smile, your character, your pleasant attitude, and your skills to differentiate yourself from others.

One more thing. Never, EVER, do what an applicant did in an interview with me once. I am a very classic dresser. My goal for makeup is that it has to look natural. I do use eyeliner, but I'm careful that it doesn't look harsh, a look I definitely don't want. In an interview, the applicant told me she had just finished a course which included interview skills. I asked her what she learned. She said, "We learned not to wear eyeliner like you are wearing."  Did she get the job? No, not because she insulted me, but because she lacked common sense. Oh, and yes, I did go look at my eyeliner just to make sure I hadn't crossed the line. Since she 'noticed' it, I cut back on it even more. I can learn too.  :)

Bottom line: Just use common sense and remember that you are dressing for a business look. You should do fine.

Linda Andrews, Director
Re: Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Linda Andrews - Monday, 10 December 2012, 10:37 AM

I have an exercise for you to do as you prepare for your interview.  [I came back to edit and add to this message. The edits are in italics.]

As you put on each item when you're getting dressed for your interview, ask this question:

Can I visualize the person interviewing me saying to themselves,

I'm not going to hire this person because she wore (skinny jeans) to the interview.

I'm not going to hire this person because she wore a ring that is so wide and obnoxious that it covers 3 fingers, a danger to herself and others, and I have a personal dislike for those rings.

I'm not going to hire this person because she wore a tailored skirt and blouse for the interview. The skirt (came to her knees) (covered her knees) (came halfway to her knees) (didn't cover her knees). Shocking!  :)  [Personally, I think the skirt and blouse with an appropriately modest hem length sounds fine. Also consider the type of material [see-through is out], [spots, stains, and holes show you don't have respect for the interview situation], color [An all-pink outfit might not be right for a job interview, but you don't always have to wear black either unless you have it and like to wear it, as I do.]

I'm not going to hire this person because her skirt was so short that when she sat down I saw more than I ever wanted to see.

NOTE: I serve on a couple of boards. When I go to board meetings, I often wear the same thing, a black sheath dress. It looks different every meeting though, because I wear it with different jackets. I could probably dress for 3 weeks in the same black dress with different jackets/blazers/sweaters, without anyone noticing or caring.

ANOTHER NOTE:  If you are 'wondering' or 'questioning' whether something is appropriate, it probably isn't. Save it until you have a chance to get a second or third opinion from a successful businessperson who will be honest with you.

Picture of Debbie Jo
Re: Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Debbie Jo - Monday, 10 December 2012, 9:24 AM

Linda - What a great response!!  Thank you so much.  I am appalled these days at what I see coming into the office, especially once people get their foot in the door.  They look great for the interview, but it's what they wear and what they get by "showing off" once they are hired.  It sure is a different world than how I was raised.  It takes a strong but respected supervisor to be able tell the employee "No". 

Linda Andrews, Director
Re: Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Linda Andrews - Monday, 10 December 2012, 10:31 AM

Thanks! I went back to it and edited it a little for clarity. I also added a personal note about what works for me in meetings. I'd love to hear more from others.

Picture of Paulette JM, CCS
Re: Instructors, Linda, what are your thoughts?
by Paulette JM, CCS - Tuesday, 11 December 2012, 2:16 AM

Linda, Thank you for your insight and advice! I have always been the conservative, business attire type, but I think one thing which makes me sort of nervous is the fact I haven't worked in a medical office.  In fact, I went from working at a casino for many years doing different jobs and eventually my ending position was a shift manager.  I began my transcription studies in 2004 and graduated in 2005 and then began working from home in 2007 and have been here since! So, I really don't have any "office" experience.  I felt your advice on this subject would be very helpful. 

Thank you again for commenting! :)