Beauty, Bagpipes and the Interview

The pipes

bag pipes

I love sandalwood and the great highland pipes. Both of them: too much sensual power for small spaces. The issue with wearing strong scents in an interview is that there is just not enough room for the me, the interviewer and my most beloved designer  scent. With rare exceptions, most of the places I have ever been interviewed in were very small. I have no idea why interviews must take place in closets. However, I have made my peace with the reality that I should not wear my favorite perfume to interviews. One night in a networking meeting, I wore a favorite sandalwood/pachouli/musk  parfum that nearly shocked a  colleague to death. This well respected gentleman could only stammer out two words to comment about it, but it was enough to embarrass me the entire night.

What did I learn from this experience? Scented cosmetic products are best used carefully. It is better to wear gentler or perfume-free. Some soaps (I won’t mention by brand and name) can set off sinus and stomach reactions in small rooms too, so I reconsidered even what I was bathing with. Now, I like to layer fragrance to deepen its effect. However, on the morning of an interview I choose light, tone down and cut back with the scented stuff.

Yes, I was very huffy in the beginning because I felt that the whole interview process was a monstrous imposition on my freedom of expression. I resented not being able to wear whatever perfume I liked whenever and wherever I pleased. Guess what? I grew up. I found out that very little in the process of seeking work is about me at all. All a potential employer wanted to know–what I had to communicate clearly–was what I would add to their operation. They did not really care that I love roses and the Battlefield Band. Then I got depressed. Was I doomed to never see the sun ever again, entombed in some windowless office for the balance of my lifetime where I had to forgo velvety deep red roses?

box overflowing with flowers

a box of roses

The questions drove me to think more deeply about what I was soulessly offering the market. I withdrew the product.  Even though I was expert at it and many were willing to pay decent dollar for it, I would only produce mechanically; joylessly; only as much/as long as required. Working with a heart like that is not too far away from prostitution. The perfume issue brought me to a bit of wisdom about the job search and life generally. The object is to genuinely care about your people environment. Unless you live in a castle, it’s best to play the pipes outside.