Preparing For The Interview: Indy-Goth-Grunge-Punk Style

rock and roll musician, George Michael

Ready to rock, but at the interview, not.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. True enough. When it comes to hair, makeup and physical adornments at interviews, there seems to be a theme running through much of the literature on the shelves and online: WATCH IT. There is a definite prejudice towards contemporary styled, neat hair, and  clean, hairless faces. For many of us that translates into these kinds of admonitions:

Keep the haircut conservative.

Keep the pink coiffed, bed head, and emo-black hair for the weekend–and don’t have any pictures of it on Facebook. Some ethnic hairstyles in the eyes of some executives still denote a rebellious attitude, so it pays to understand the corporate culture before showing up in dreads or twists. The grunge-y stubble that looks so great on George Michael might not be a good idea at the interview. Beards, van-dykes and other facial hair styles should be neatly trimmed. Women should not wear beards. Generally, arts industry professionals have much more leeway to express personal style in comparison with, say, bankers or Wall Street stock traders.

Keep jewelry near the face conservative.

Many interview advice comments I have heard from recruiters are along the line of small, non-pendulous earrings for women and no earrings for men. A woman with more than one piercing in her ears should decide which two to wear a small stud in. Generally, ear jewelry should not make noise or be a distraction. Believe it or not, large hoop earrings still have a negative connotation.

Hands should look neat and cared for; conservatively adorned.

Clean and clear. A man’s hands should be clean with neatly trimmed nails–all of them. Having a longer nail on the pinky finger used to mean a certain social status, but it does not translate well at the interview today. Likewise, a woman’s hands should be clean with neatly trimmed nails. Trade the robin’s egg blues and safety orange for closer to natural tones for the interview. For men and women, dial down the finger bling. That means Diamond Jim should wear one or two rings on each hand instead of the usual fistful. The same goes for Sophisticated Lady. One or two rings will do. Neither should be sporting noisy wrist wear.

I put on the single strand of pearls (good fakes that do not show wear) and ear studs with my suit. My artsy stone pendants  and talismans stay at home when interviewing for the corporate office. Never a sell-out in any sense, it is merely one more classic move in “the game” of getting the job.


2 thoughts on “Preparing For The Interview: Indy-Goth-Grunge-Punk Style

  1. Some things never really change. I do some career coaching, at times, for a select group of women. I pretty much gave the same advice to a young hip woman who was going on a job interview. She really wanted the job and in the end, landed it. Her conservative demeanor and look helped to not distract from what she had to say. 🙂


    • Exactly. It seems like the more things change, the more things stay the same. I experienced a seminar that made me sit up and take note by a marvelous lady, Jean O’Brien, founder and CEO of Executive Presence. She speaks clearly and authoritatively about that first 30 seconds and appearance. Jean can be found at:


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