Hr . Payroll Analyst/hr Generalist/payroll
Results Certified Executive Coach & Training
Technical Officer
Lokesh Babu
Hr Generalist, Employee Relation Executive
Manager Hr & Admn
Oracle Hr Functional Consultant
+1 Other

Hi all

I will not start this discussion with the standard opening lines by saying I have a friend who happen to visit………

NO! It’s not about my friend. It’s about ME. I am into HR & Training field from past 12 years (4 in India and 8 years in GCC). We all are in some or the other way is struck by a disease called Idiosyncrasy.

What is Idiosyncrasy – The Oxford dictionary says it’s a mental constitution, view or feeling or mode of behaviour.

We tend to do or act in some ways which when we are in sane / senses we know it is not correct but unknowingly we do act upon it again and again knowing it that it is not very correct, atleast in some cases. But still we happen to do it, attempt it.

In my case, I have this habit of applying for jobs and attending interviews. I have attended several of them, even though I am working and doing things which I like to do, but I am always fascinated by those wooing advertisements of vacancies and glamorous positions which attracts me towards them and I keep on applying, answering recruitment agents and attending interviews.
In the same spree last evening I attended one interview. It was for a Realty dealer / owner. Dealing in Billions. I finished my work at 6.00 and had my interview at 6.30. Without changing (we wear uniforms, right from MD to Technicians all in same attire) though I had carried a good executive looking shirt and a tie. But could not do it hence landed in the same uniform.
I was welcomed, Introduced to the meeting room and left alone for 5 minutes. As I could make out from the company profile that it’s a company built with dreams. Rags to Riches kind of story. But as a matter of fact they are dealing in Billions now. Obviously the management is from one point, top to bottom. So the CEO himself was conducting interviews for an HR manager. In 5 mins he wrapped up the interview asking routine questions such as Noc, availability, salary previous experience etc. In 5 minutes I was out of meeting room on my way.

Does appearance count so much ? So much that irrespective of your expertise, knowledge, capabilities if you look bad or dress simple (Not Bad of course) will affect so much.

Of course I had planned to change, but did not got a chance. Instead of missing an interview I thought I will apologies for not being in very formal outfits.

What was this ? Poor management and leadership qualities in a CEO or mismanagement and unorganized approach towards future prospects by the interviewee.

Is it that only Jelled hair, shining suits, long nosed boots will justify my talents without me giving a chance to speak/ask what I can do as core HR activities?

Please advise !

From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
As far as my understanding goes.... the answer is there in what you wrote... remember the key word Idiosyncrasy....... who knows interviewer wanted to behave in a fashion he behaved, may be he did intentionally because he might be doing it the day long. because for him it might be obvious when a person is not serious with presenting himself at a point of contact that to with a ceo he might ebe more non serious in his attitude as well.

No hard feelings towards you, u r talented, competnt no doubt butyou must be aware of a famous saying face is index of mind and unfortunatley when we say face nowadays it includes almost everything clothes, shoes, tie even mobiles phones...... and this is what happened. Actually people are more interested in seeing us more as a package than mere an experienced and competent person.....I think we should always keep in mind whereever we are going on for an interview the dress should be with respect to the position complete formals are a best fit.

From India, New Delhi
Dear Sajid,

Thank you for bringing out this interesting topic. These days, everything counts. Not that it was not the case during the earlier days.

Now, in your write up itself you have written that you have presented yourself for interview with a CEO who is handling a Billion Dollar business. The moment zeroes increases; the status quo of the person also rises automatically. Knowing you personally, we all know very well your capabilities. But, it is not the case of the interviewer in this particular case. He has presented in front of you an opportunity to be part of a billion dollar business, whereby the clients and the daily interaction groups also will be amongst that range and status quo.

Being an active participant in various cultural events and a groomer of children for many talent shows, I always insist the children participating in stage shows to practise in full costume one or two or many times before the actual performance. It always helps them to see and have a feel of the costume, its convenience when they walk on stage, any loose points, or the feel they get, their opponents and the groomers get when they do the practise. This way, when they go on stage the real time, they are at ease and have already closed the gaps or missing links when it matters. Many times, it has helped extremely talented children to have the right feel and generate sufficient confidence.

The case here too is almost similar. He knows on paper what you possess. But in real, he has to see it for himself and feel it confident, along with you, to move around in that kind of platform. Another important point I felt is scheduling. Knowing very much you have a golden goose interview ahead, it is your priority to schedule your time ahead to set up yourself to present you in the best possible manner. If not, we cannot negate the questions and fears in the mind of the employer or the interviewer in question here. It has to be also noted that, in most cases like this, we, expatriates from the sub-continent, are competing with candidates from Arab countries, who take very good care of their appearances and present them in the smartest way physically (although not intellectually) and walks away with cream jobs.

I can also list down experiences I have had when many times women candidates from South Indian states presenting themselves for job interviews in Sarees and padaswarams (making chling chling sound all over). The same case, when male candidates present themselves with sweat all over after walking down in the hot summer. What a feel it makes in a corporate office atmosphere where it is surrounded by all nationalities?.

So, set up yourself, give yourself sufficient time the next time and we will definitely get to see a success story from your end very soon.

All the very best.

Ramesh Menon

From United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
Hi Sajid,

The nationality of the person who interviewed you makes a difference in this part of the world. Where we come from, I think we have a more tolerant attitude i.e., dressing 'DECENTLY' is enough and it is the actual stuff that makes the difference!!! Example of this image - Narayanamoorthy!!! the simple image that he projects speaks for itself!!!!!

At the risk of sounding prejudicial, the reality is - in this part of the world- 'APPEARANCE' seems to be given a lot of importance. As Ramesh has rightly said:

>> we, expatriates from the sub-continent, are competing with candidates from Arab countries, who take very good care of their appearances and present them in the smartest way physically (although not intellectually) and walks away with cream jobs.

This is 100% true!!! From a woman's perspective I can tell you that for the arab women working with me their week is incomplete without a trip to the beauty parlour!!!!! and I am viewed as a strange apparition for not doing it even once in six months!!!!! :) :) respect is given to me for the work I do but I had to gain it over a period of time and have put forth the same questions that you have asked to myself!!!!!!!

What you can do in core HR will be viewed only after you have gained that FIRST GOOD IMPRESSION!!! and that first GOOD impression rests on the perfect grooming in this part of the world!!!!

P.S: Future topic for discussion in CHR meet??

From India, Coimbatore
Dear Pinkii, Ramesh & Geetha

Thank you so much for sharing your insights regarding this issue of "Appearance". Being in corporate world and a "Trainer", ofcourse I do understand the vital role of apperance towards presenting oneself. As said by Ramesh, Pinkii, first apperance itself demonstrates the rest of the part of your story.
But still i fail to digest the fact that the importance being given so much to appearance . A major job responsibility of a HR Manager is not just to have paper work in an office setup. He has to be on the shop floor with people,among people. Unless he mingle with people who he can or rather employees can relate or have belongingness. Take for example a Manufacturing environment (where i work at present) you have thousands of empployees. As per the normal scenario in a Manufacturing setup in MEA region 90 percent workforce is hard labour and 10 percent is in an office setup. You have subordinates in your dept to whom you delegate. Each role is being taken care by a responsible specialist. you have expereinced people under you who discharge your orders handling roles as Recrutiments, Training, Employee Welfare, Benefits & Compensation, Admin etc.
YOu are the head of department is by default ought to have keen understanding and knowledge of each of these roles, thats the reason why you are placed there as Head of the Dept.
But at the end of the day, you are responsible for taking care of your workforce. For a minute you have to remove all these midiatories who come between YOU and your WORKFORCE. When its you and them directly, you know the ground realities experienceing it first hand rather than seeing it in reports. In this case, wont your formal appearance and so many midiators (sub-ordinates) become an obstacle between you and your workforce. Wont they (workforce) find it difficult in approaching you? Will it not be difficult for them to access you ?
Anyways, these are just rational thoughts which I putforth and on which I always ponders. You answers and inputs help me shape up and give a form to my my rational thinking.

Thanks again



From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
Dear Sender
Yes, wearing decent dress at the time of appearing for an interview is playing vital role and it earns some mark of good opinion before evaluating your knowledge/skill the panel members.
Wearing dress at the time of interview will vary depend upon the job one has applied and appearing for the interview.
Wearing company's uniform ( normally bears company's logo) and appearing for some other company's interview will give bad impression for both the organisations and the employee, and the chances of getting the job is doubtful.(if it is a competitor, then there is no chance of getting the job)
Imagine appearing with dirty dresses, unpolished shoes, unshaved face etc. will fetch negative marks and bad impression at the first instant itself irrespective of knowledge and experience one possess.

From India, Madras
Dear Kumar
Thanks for your inputs. As a "professional", your are assigned for rendering your services and you are paid for it. You have full right to look for growth and better opportunities. You are honest, open and you are not deceiving anyone or anycompany by applying anywhere or appearing for an interview. I do agree about the formal dress code. But i dont agree with the thought saying it doesnt looks good if you wear a company uniform and appear for an interview.

From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
By this discussion i understood that there is no place for neglegence in the corporate world.
From India, Hyderabad
Hi Sajid,
I agree with what you have said. At the end of the day, Head - HR is responsible for taking care of the workforce. But I do not agree that formal attire is a barrier for easy approach. In the initial phases, when one is new to the organization and your personality is not known then there is a phase of hesitation.
It is how one builds rapport with the workforce - with or without formals that makes the difference!!! Ironical!!!!! :)

From India, Coimbatore
Some very interesting thoughts have been shared here on this topic.

Lets face it guys, in the corporate world the clothes one wears is considered a window into one's personality. I believe that this is true to a large extent. While many of us would not agree, I think I would be in a better position to display my abilities to an interviewer once I have his/her attention. And I can grab attention when I dress smart.

In other words, you have won half of the battle if you dress for the job. When i say this, I only mean dress smart. What i wear - Indian or Western does not matter - the underlined word here is SMART. Irrespective of what I wear, if it makes me confident, I am sure that I will do very well in the interview.

Clothes would be of more importance when you are being interviewed for management positions. Why? Simple, it tends to enhance one’s self image. And my subordinates would automatically tend to respect me if I am confident of myself. Add to this your talent & ability to manage & it is a killer combination.

Grooming is also a large part of building self image. Its not essential to visit a beauty parlor once a week or whatever to be well groomed. Every individual has his/her own style of grooming & it is best suited for that individual.

So, summing it up, Sajid its not what you wear, its how you wear it & how it makes you feel that is more important in the corporate world. You can be as confident in a sherwani as you can be in a tuxedo. Wearing either can get you a job. Only how you present yourself in these clothes matters most.

Coming to expectation from the corporate in this part of the world to be well dressed in western outfits, I guess its more of a common practice than a hang up. It may be because, a person appears more presentable & appealing when dressed in a suit than he does in a normal shirt trouser ensemble!

From United Arab Emirates, Dubai

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