photo credit: Chris Barber
‘Don’t wear jeans. You’re not going to a rodeo.’ Al Pacino give snitching Johnny Depp a lesson in dress code.
In Donnie Brasco, Pacino is an aging mafioso wise-guy who takes Depp under his wing. Like any rookie coming into an organization, he needs to teach him the ropes. And this kid knows nothing.
Lose the mustache. Ditch the wallet. Wise guys keep dollar bills in a tight roll so they can peel them out.
and no Jeans…
The Mafia has it’s own dress code. Dress for business because the street is your shop floor. So, all the wise-guys look like businessmen.
Where Smart Casual Goes Wrong
This brings us nicely to smart casual. Or ‘smart caj’ as they say.
I interviewed three people during the week. All were well-educated, articulate, and qualified.
But something was eating at me.
If you (20-something) are coming to an interview with me (45 year old) remember…
- This is a business meeting.
- Don’t get too familiar too fast. – you can call me Ivan if you want. But a Mr or Sir never hurt.
- Sneakers – You can wear sneakers. But dress shoes would be better. Oh yeah, if they are snickers, make sure they’re clean, with laces, and the laces are tied.
- Beer – we met on Friday. I knew the second guy was out drinking the night before. That’s fine but… I don’t want to share that stale odor at 10 am on a Friday.
- Be clean – remember to wash. I’ll say it again. Remember to wash.
- Cut your nails. I’ll only say it once.
- Be on time – don’t look desperate by arriving an hour early. Arrive 5 minutes early and we’re ready to start. You can freshen up in the restrooms if you want. Give yourself some extra time if the place is new to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.
- Ask questions – I want to learn what you’re made of. The questions you ask tells me about your hopes, interests, fears, ambitions… why you’re here.
- Curveballs – Get ready to answer them. Get ready for the standard questions and then assume I’ll throw some curve balls. ‘That’s not fair’. Maybe not, but life’s not fair. Get used to it and learn to deal with the unexpected.
Why? How you cope with the unexpected is something I can’t see on your CV. It show me how you copy with stress and will handle difficult clients.
- Samples – you know I want to see your work, right? Bring the best samples, print them out and walk me through what makes these special. You want your work to stand out otherwise…
- Respect – Don’t diss your ex-employee. I don’t expect you to work with me forever. When you move on, I want you to have enjoyed working together and say nice things about me to other clients.
- Listen as much as you talk – I know you’re nervous. You want the job. I have the job. But don’t let your nerves tangle you in knots. Remember to breath. Stay calm. Sip your water. Give others space to talk. Listen. Make notes. Ask sensible questions.
- Bring a pen, make notes. Don’t rely on the laptop. One guy’s died during the interview. He also couldn’t look at me when typing as he kept correcting his typo mistakes. Use a pad, makes short notes. Look interested.
Take the Long View With Relationships
See this as first of many meetings. If things go well, we’ll meet again. And, even if we don’t assume that we’ll meet again.
It happens all the time in business. So, turn up on time, be clean, listen as much as you talk and remember to smile.
One final thing about interviews.
Always follow-up. Leave a nice message the next day thanking the person for taking the time to meet you. Others won’t.
What have I missed?
What mistakes do people make during interviews? What do you do before interviews that I haven’t covered here?