Tattoos and Piercings at the Interview

By Erica Tew, CPRW

Recently, the question of tattoos and piercings at the interview arose and we debated what was appropriate.  We stuck with the conservative approach as general guidance: always cover up best you can in a professional outfit, and possibly remove any facial piercings. The goal is to be remembered for what you said, not your appearance. 

However, there is another layer to this subject I would like to address.  Before I delve into it, I want to share a few ground rules. I do not think under any circumstances should you show a tattoo that is religious, political, or offensive (lewd imagery, foul language, or gory/violent) in any way. I also think facial piercings should be on the smaller side, to not take too much attention away from your words.

Personally, I am a fan of tattoos and piercings. I think the creativity and skill involved in a well-done tattoo can be really beautiful.  I have a few of my own and have even weighed the interview appearance question on whether or not an industrial piercing or a nose ring should be removed. In my conservative workplace, a small nose ring is becoming very common, but I still tend to cover the industrial with my hair down.

Depending on your company’s culture and attire, tattoos or piercings may be acceptable, or even welcomed.  For example, there is a common belief that you should never trust a tattoo artist that doesn’t have any tattoos of their own.  It happens, but it is really difficult for an artist to make it without some of their own. Places that typically do not mind tattoos could be laborious jobs such as warehouses or shipyards. In retail, many shops welcome their staff to be creativity and display their own artwork; not minding tattoos or piercings.

What you may not realize though, is many of our corporate sectors are tolerant of tattoos and piercings as well. Some universities where you may be working independently can be accepting. Small businesses, startups, and other employers can be a mix- but my advice is, when possible, to simply walk into the building before applying.  See how the employees and managers dress. Note any tattoos or piercings and reflect manager norms in your own interview attire. Even if the employees have visible tattoos or piercings, but the managers are more conservative, you are safest with dressing on the conservative side for your interview. Some companies may not mind tattoos or piercings on employees, but when promoting an employee, they may prefer someone who more closely reflects executive style choices. Dress for the job you want, at the company you want.

Overall, researching the company culture will be most important when determining your interview appearance. Although tattoos and piercings are increasingly accepted, many companies still want employees to reflect their corporate brand at all times, and a tattoo may clash with that brand. If you really love a company and aren’t sure of their policy, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and cover up. If you have further questions, please leave a comment below!


#Interview Success: Align Your #Goal

By George Bernocco, CPRW


If you want to pass the interview and get the job, it revolves around a simple idea. You were selected to see if you match what the company is looking for. Even though it is considered an “employer market”, it is important for your goals to align with the company’s goals.



Companies want to know if you can do the job, simple enough. The company has goals of their own which usually involve staying in business and getting more business. An employer also wants to know if you mesh with their idea of a perfect candidate. A necessary question you must ask the employer during an interview is:

“What is your idea of a qualified candidate?”

Their response will give you the information required to correctly align yourself as that qualified person. However, it is important for you to know what your plans are if you get hired.

1. Is this job a place you plan on staying for a while?

2. Are you going to be seeking a promotion?

3. What is your ultimate goal when you get within the company walls?

These are questions employers are wondering, even if they do not come out and ask during the interview. The questions they do ask will give them an idea of what your goals are. Assumptions will be made, and it is important for you to either verify or adjust any assumption the employer makes. For example, if you are considered “overqualified” for the position, the assumption might be made that you will not be at the company for long because you may be offered something that better suits your qualifications.

When you identify any incorrect assumptions about your goals, and correct them during the interview, you have aligned your goals with that of the employer. Addressing the issues at hand can be a direct question asked to the employer:

“Is there anything I have mentioned during this interview that concerns you?”

The direct approach can work in your favor, but it is up to you to determine if it is appropriate to ask and to have the courage to ask it. Once you’ve demonstrated that your goals are similar to the employers, you’ve successfully passed the interview. Qualified candidates have the ability to ask questions to the employer during the interview to gauge what they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think about you as it can help you stand out in a positive manner.

Weird Interview Questions

(and what makes them not weird)

By George Bernocco, CPRW


I was excited, but extremely nervous. I had just graduated, finished working for the school system and I had an interview for a full time position. I remember that my car had to be dropped off in the shop the day before, so I had to get a ride to the interview. I also remember walking in to the building the day of the interview and talking to the secretary. One of the persons interviewing me walked out, greeted me pleasantly and walked me back outside. We went to an adjacent building where his supervisor and he would interview me. I sat down, feeling like I should have a blindfold on and a cigarette in my mouth. I felt as though I was going to be read my last rights. I was gripping my legs to try to work my way through the nervousness.

The interview started, and the questions at the beginning were traditional interview questions; who am I, what can I bring to the organization. The lead supervisor, we’ll say her name is Jessica, was very bubbly. Every answer I gave was followed by her enthusiasm about how good my answer was. The nerves went down as the interview progressed. As I let my guard down, I was suddenly struck with a question from Jessica. The question almost knocked the wind out of me, not because of its content but because of the context. The interview was smooth sailing, and now this? The first thing I said after she asked was “Are you serious?” Jessica very firmly said she was and she was awaiting my answer. I laughed nervously, rummaged through my memory to find the answer and finally came up with something and it was as follows:

A man walks up to a pirate who has a peg for a leg, a hook for a hand and an eye patch. The man asks the pirate: “How did you lose your leg?” The pirate responds: “It was a bad storm out at sea and I fell overboard. A shark attacked me and I was able to fight it off but it took my leg with him.” The man is intrigued and asks: “So how did you lose your hand?” The pirate responds: “We were stranded at sea and my crew started a mutiny. I was able to fight them off but they took my hand with them.” The man is even more amazed and finally asks: “How did you lose your eye?” The pirate responds: “Bird poop.” The man replies: “Bird poop?!?” The pirate answers: “Yes, it was my first day with hook.”


As I was telling the joke, Jessica and her subordinate laughed. Jessica reported that most people she had asked to tell a joke in the interview usually responded: “I don’t know one.” For me though, the interview continued as normal. I don’t remember too much after the fact, but I did get the call a few weeks later. I started work on my birthday, and worked at the job for over two years before I moved on.

It has always struck me as to why I was asked to tell a joke in the dead center of an interview that otherwise seemed normal. Was Jessica being funny, or malicious? Was it a test in which I passed?  What was the point? As I progressed more into my career of employment services, I soon figured it out. The question was a stress question, probably one of the worst ones I’ve come across just merely by its unexpected nature. Stress questions are designed to throw you off your game, get you out of your element and see how you react.

Interviewers who throw stress questions have read the “Interview Playbook” and know people they interview are going to be expecting the same old questions. They don’t want to see a staged act, they want to see improvisation. They want to know what it’s like when you have to think on your feet, and believe me they are watching you struggle for an answer. The question itself may have very little to do with the job and it’s very hard to prepare for them at the interview. As long as you understand why they are asking the question, you can proceed to the answer and demonstrate (rather than tell) the employer you are able to think on your feet. They are called stress questions for a reason, and they are designed to get your heart racing and lose your momentum.

Some interviewers may want to give you false scenarios in which they assume something on your behalf just to see how you will react and respond. Other interviewers may make false assumptions based on your experience or education, and see how you correct them. Just remember that the idea behind the question is to get you off your interview game. Remember the interview is designed to sell yourself, and it’s almost guaranteed they asked the same or similar questions to everyone they interviewed. As long as you remember why you are perfect for the job, you can move forward with the interview and not be hung up on a question.

Here are some other stress interview questions:

  • If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

  • See this pen I am holding? Sell it to me.

  • What interests you least about this job?

  • Tell me about the last time you made an embarrassing mistake.

  • If you had to fill this room wall to wall with basketballs, how would you do it?

  • How would you react if I said I thought you were giving a poor interview today?

  • Why are manhole covers round?

  • Why did you switch majors from Graphic Design to Computer Engineering? Is it because you found it boring?

  • If your neighbor’s dog was barking at 3am and woke you up, what would you do?

  • How nervous are you during this interview?

Does anyone else have any weird interview questions they’ve experienced? Please share in the comment section.

Tell Me About Yourself

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Tell Me About Yourself

No pressure, but the interview is what makes or breaks the job for you. You’ve completed a stellar cover letter and resume, now it’s time to meet face to face. There is always debate about which questions the employer will ask, which are more important, and what are the most difficult questions. There is no doubt that the employer called you in for one reason: To learn about you and what you can do for them. The question asking about who you are may come up, but even if somehow it doesn’t (unlikely), the interview itself is for the employer to figure you out. It’s your job to assist them in recognizing your potential. So how do you give out the right amount of information? How do you sell yourself, without selling yourself short? Where does your story end so it doesn’t go to long? Here are some thoughts you should consider before the interview:

Elevate Yourself

Imagine you are getting on an elevator with a recruiter. You have about 20 seconds before he gets off on his floor and you go your separate ways. What would you tell them to get their attention? You would definitely have to tell them what you’ve done, and what you are looking forward to doing. Maybe emphasize the most important skills you have, and then apply them to a potential position at their company. Finally you might need to end it with hoping to hear back from them, or contacting them to check in. All these components of an “Elevator Speech” answer the question “Tell me about yourself.”

 Script Yourself

At the interview you need to be prepared mentally. Bringing information to help you remember what to say can help. The best way to have information about some of the questions that will be asked is bringing a resume. Your resume should be stellar already because you are sitting there with it at the interview. Hopefully you have a Profile/Summary or maybe an Objective on it. These sections are the answers, much like taking a test with the answer sheet right next to you. You may not want to repeat verbatim what you wrote, but you definitely can follow the profile or objective’s example of a short snapshot into your life. If you do not have the profile or objective, consider the whole resume as the answer to the question. It’s your job to perform a brief review during the interview.

Summarize Yourself

Much like your stellar resume, you want to try to avoid too much information. No one wants a PowerPoint presentation with paragraphs on it, no human resource manager wants to read a five page resume and no recruiter wants to listen to an entire life story. Write out your answer to the question if you do not already have a Profile on your resume. Practice your answer with family, friends, and/or career specialists. Remember to focus on your career, experience, skills and career objectives.

Inform Yourself

Every industry has its own vocabulary. Whether you’re in Accounting or Zoology, your industry focuses on certain words that others in your industry will comprehend. When you apply for a job within your industry, it is important to demonstrate what you know by how you describe what you’ve done. Using industry keywords in your response, called “jargon”, will show the employer in more than one way that you are knowledgeable about your career. Research your jargon, and that can be as simple as pulling up job postings for your industry and looking for keywords.

Assure Yourself

An interview is not the time to be modest. There needs to be self confidence that you are elite in your field. Interviewers are trained in spotting those who demonstrate they could do the job. The recruitment process is much easier for the recruiter when they interview someone who demonstrates self-assurance. René Descartes once wrote “I think therefore I am” which is entirely true for an interview. If you believe you are the person for the job, the interviewer will believe it too.

Sell Yourself

Once all the above are true, you now have the tools to sell yourself. You are the product; the company is the consumer. Why should they “purchase” you? What makes you stand out from the rest? All these can lead into different interview questions, but it is important to incorporate the answers into telling the employer about you. When you successfully sell yourself, you are now the front runner. The employer now knows who you are, and therefore you’ve answered their question while capturing their interest.