Employers seeking to hire personal assistants don’t generally relay what their criteria for a dress code is, presuming the candidate will have it understood as part of their skills set. We take time to learn details of what our clients really want. A client recently interviewed candidates for a Personal Assistant position (see clients). After a round of first interviews the feedback was very positive resulting in the client liking all candidates equally. The chemistry was good, they were highly qualified with top jobs background and excellent references. The clients criteria was expertly narrowed to determine a good match when we took their job order (as our renowned expertise is known for), and not to waste their time, which in this case was also limited with imminent travel, we pride ourselves on knowing exactly what our clients want up front. The client gave details regarding the appearance of an applicant as very important to his work, along with other things relevant to their household we maintain confidential for all our clients. Employers comprise a wide array of being highly formal to very casual. Our Best Advice TIPS: even if it’s high profile VIP clients in sports or creative fields you may see photographed dressing very casually, you cannot presume by what they do, or how they dress, that’s how they wish their staff to be attired. In this instance the client was in high finance with active crossover interests in entertainment, fashion, and arts.
Don’t go to an interview wearing jeans unless it’s formal black denim paired with a nice jacket, or a classic winter coat with subtle detailing in cold weather. A formal client may hire a more casual assistant and a casual client might resonate to a more formal employee, but they all want sixth sense talent of knowing how to glean what they desire, before they do. Appearances are part of strong intuitive guessing, beginning with interviews. These candidates thought they didn’t want the job because the client wasn’t in entertainment fields they were used to and preferred working in. We strongly urged them to check it out and reserve judgment. As I anticipated, after the interviews they all wanted the job. Though many PA’s ask us, these candidates did not inquire how to dress for the interview and based on their job history, thought they knew.
What tipped the scale in the direction of one over the others (as the client described it): one wore too much makeup and the other showed up in high heels. Because he liked them all, attire became a key factor for comparisons. Perhaps an applicant has no time to change into a proper outfit, yet circumstance requires their immediate attendance for an interview. Obviously, the client is apprised and considerations made if you need to show up in running gear or shorts, but we’re talking professional appearance which extends beyond clothing that broadcasts your judgment and wisdom capacities. In fact, this client liked these applicants so much he’s considering hiring two people, one assistant for himself and the other for his wife. In this instance the client overlooked detracting fashion statements, not all clients will.
TIP for all job applicants, don’t overdo the fashion thing when interviewing, strike a balance. Don’t dress as if you’re out on a social scene or intending to meet someone for a date after the interview. If you’re too casual, or too done up trying to impress how creative and cool you are, it may just be the thing that prevents you from landing that job. This young open minded client wanted someone who could represent their business and cool personal image as an extension of their family, not promote fashion week. Until you have that job don’t presume to know, keep it light with makeup if female, and everyone should dress professional neutral. Another client might want someone to advance or enhance their image. Sometimes a client wants an employee to dress really cool to show they have flair by extension. Clients have dress code leanings, and make it known quickly. Usually it’s not a deal breaker and easy to correct after the interview by telling a candidate. If the client finds other qualifications excellent and chemistry was great, clearly the attire could be changed to their needs once employed.
Over the years the work dress code has became more casual, yet some clients are formal people wanting an applicant to wear a suit for the interview. Sometimes it’s the business manager, agent, or another management person like their accountant who’s conducting first round interviews. It might be a personal assistant who’s leaving finding a replacement. We’ve heard clients complain a candidate came looking like they were the boss conducting the interview (because they were overdressed), another faux pas. Don’t dig out your most expensive best clothes for an interview or over accessorize. While you want to show you’re knowledgeable about current trends, it can still be done by wearing professional neutral clothing. A high profile client once informed me the applicant came in a Gucci suit. He laughed and summed it up by saying if they could buy such an expensive suit, they didn’t need the work he wanted to give to someone who did. Don’t mislead yourself by presuming. If you’re uncertain, ask us before you go on an interview about what the client will respond to. Other agencies may tell you to keep it professional, we’ll give you specifics. Each employer is unique with a huge range of image and branding that might influence the hire. I’ve had clients request specific dress code to assist a candidate they saw and liked get the job, when scheduled to meet a partner or spouse as the second interview, who’s also a stickler for a certain look. Depending on the job, dressing casually cool or very formal is appropriate. Put your best manner forward by qualifying to the employer you’re glad to use a dress code they prefer. It gives you an opportunity to learn what exactly that is, and opens the dialogue to specifically learn more about their expectations.
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