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Submitted by tschmidt24 on


I'm a sales manager at a new car dealership. I'm responsible for interviewing, selecting and onboarding new salespeople. Our salespeople, on average, make around $50-60,000 per year. Our dress code for men is a shirt, tie and dress pants or our button up uniform shirt with dress pants.

Our interview process is to cull resumes, conduct a phone screen (15-20 minutes), and then invite the candidate in for a face-to-face interview as long as pass the previous steps.

I had a candidate come in today for a face-to-face interview wearing an untucked polo shirt and khakis.

How do you handle candidates that you don't feel like are dress appropriately for the interview?

pucciot's picture
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The short answer ---

You found a reason to say "No".

You conduct your interview as normal and make note of how the candidate dressed.

If he dressed inappropriately for the role then he has made a mistake in the interview.

I'm not saying that it is a real complete deal breaker to hiring him, but, inappropriate dress is certainly a factor.

The candidate could have asked before the interview :

"What is the standard Dress Code ?"


The candidate might have dropped by the dealership to see how folks are dressed.


Standard interview dress includes a Suit - no matter what.


I hope this helps.




mmcconkie's picture

I agree with TJPuccio. I don't know that it would be an absolute deal breaker if this was the best interviewee that you met, but it definitely shows that he didn't prepare or plan ahead as he should have. Maybe it was a one-time mistake, but when it comes to interviews you can't assume that it's a one-time mistake. The entire principle of interviewing is that it's a sample of the interviewee's best work so that the interviewer can imagine them in the role and predict success. If this is the interviewee's best work, that would make me as an interviewer nervous about how things would go if this candidate were in this position. Especially where this is a sales position and professional appearance can be a factor in success of the employee, I would be very skeptical in moving this candidate forward through the process. 

tschmidt24's picture
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Thanks for the insights. I'm definitely a believer in "finding a reason to say no." I also believe that every candidate is on their "A game" during the interview process, so if I don't like something during the interview process its probably only going to get worse if I were to hire them. 

I didn't know if other people would follow through with the interview, or tell them that we wouldn't hire them before doing the interview, or ask them to come back at another time when they are properly dressed. 

My concern is that I don't want to waste time interviewing someone that I know probably won't be choosing, but I also don't want to upset a candidate so much that they put out negative comments about the dealership among their friends/family and online. 

pucciot's picture
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I would say that a basic level of professionalism would require that you complete a standard reasonable amount of the interview.

So I would _not_ recommend cutting it short.

There are other considerations here.

1 - This is a professional business contact meeting.  You are representing your company.  He will tell his friends about his experience with you.

2 - This candidate may have messed up today, but someday he may fix his game and come back to be _your_ boss.  

3 - Especially for your business - he is also a potential customer.  He might not get the job - but he may get a good feeling about your company and want to buy a car there next month.

4 - He might be the owner's son --  So you should finish the interview and wait and see if he tells you that he is already a favored candidate -- or if he gets shown around the place -- to see if anyone around the dealership recognizes him.

5 - You may need him as a business contact in the future.  One day you might get downsized or need a favor -- it would be great if you come in contact with this guy at another business in the future and he remembers you fondly.

6 - And finally - gives you some more practice in interviewing ... we can all get more practice.

- So let every candidate leave that interview with a very favorable impression of you and your company.

Good Luck



snegyK's picture

To be honest, your expectations are pretty standard. I have been part of a team where it was not accepted for ladies to wear dressed and every time a woman is hired the team would "comment" on her dress code if she was wearing a skirt or a dress. This is, of course silly and not the fault of the new hires but rather the management. With that said - if someone comes to an interview without considering the position and dress code related to it you are allowed to judge. Just don't allow this judgment take the decision for hiring for you. 

Jollymom's picture

Personal appearance is one factor in considering a sales staff but one have to be professional to face the candidate for interview but definitely, one must not only consider it, there are other factors that are far more important.