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Dress for success… or not – RecruitMentor Horror Stories

Recruitment Horror Stories

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Whilst stocking my garage shelves with freshly delivered copies of my fabulous RecruitMentor training books, I found an old photo album – as you do, when digging around in a garage with altogether too much clutter in it.

And, as you also do when looking back at snaps from the pre-digital era (note to younger readers – yep, there was an age when you only got 24 pictures at a time and had to wait days for them to be developed – it’s one of the reasons why people older than 35 have some form of patience… that and parenting…), I found myself both smiling and cringing at some of my more questionable sartorial choices. A cringe came for sure when I found the picture of what I’d chosen to wear on my first day in recruitment. Black shirt. Navy suit. Bright red tie. Some form of loafer. Not a good combination at all. But, at the time, I thought it was smart. Because when you’ve spent several years at University and it’s your first day in the ‘real world’, suit, shirt and tie says SMART, irrespective of colour or coordination.

Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to smarten up, both literally and figuratively.

On day three at my new job, I passed the company director on the stairs and gave him a nervous greeting (the guy wasn’t just my boss, he was almost seven feet tall so pretty intimidating!). A cheery “hello” followed, which definitely helped calm me. The calm was then immediately shattered with the phrase “a businessman never wears a comedy tie”. And that was the end of that conversation. I went out on lunch break, bought myself two inexpensive but passable silk ties from Moss Bros, consigned my Homer Simpson tie to the bin and that was that.

But you’ve got to admit, it’s a forgivable and pretty much understandable mistake to make, right? They certainly don’t give classes at school or Uni about what sort of attire to wear to the office and I figured providing it was suit, shirt, tie, I was good to go. The nuances needed filling in but the basic idea was there. We all understand that.

Well, apparently not ALL of us.

Many years later after I’d learned how to dress properly for work and was running my own business (the two must have been somehow connected…), as I walked towards my meeting room, ready to interview a prospective employee, I found one of my PAs attempting to mask a snigger.

“What’s so funny?”, I enquired.

“You’ll see…”, came the reply.

I entered the room and the chap I was about to interview stood up from his chair to shake my hand. Good firm handshake. Pleasant, friendly countenance. Genuine smile. SHORTS.

He was wearing shorts.

Not board shorts or bermuda shorts.


Not quite Daisy Dukes but definitely the sort of short 80s footballers sported. In all honesty, I can’t remember what else he was wearing but it was some sort of non-descript T-shirt or sweatshirt on his upper half. I couldn’t get past the shorts. I could get behind it if he was interviewing as a go-go dancer or gym instructor but why on earth would ANYBODY think wearing shorts to a recruitment interview would be a good idea?

Retrospectively, I kinda wish he’d worn shirt, tie and suit jacket with it. Then it would have been a statement about conformity and I probably would have hired him for having the balls to do it. As it was, in the clobber he’d deemed fit for interview, I was concerned about his level of balls for a whole different reason.


Managing a team of recruitment newcomers? In your first year of recruitment? Looking to make sure you’re doing all of the job all of the time? Check out The RecruitMentor training books to enhance your career. Low cost, high value… learn more, earn more.