Tickled Pink

My first ever job interview? Textbook and utter failure. The application? For an intimidatingly interesting internship with a United Nations office. My expectations? Not many.

With interest bound to be high, when they did call me in for an interview, I was hugely excited. I was on top of the world, I had climbed the highest mountain! Well, I really was climbing an actual mountain when they called. I was enjoying the great-outdoors climbing almost vertically on a rusty mountain bike my lungs on fire when the phone rang. While coughing up my insides, I managed to catch enough of the secretary’s routine explanations to get the gist. I was expected in their office in three days time. Just four relaxing and stress-free hours after I would return from my mountain adventures.

With little time and even less internet connection. I couldn’t do much reading about the position. When I got home, I mercifully had just enough time to shower. I quickly changed into my suit, a white shirt and the only necktie I could find. A delightful pink relic from a recent family wedding. Inexperienced, ill-prepared, tongue-tied… if I ever possessed something remotely looking like charisma, it definitely wasn’t there that day. How could this be? I felt no connection whatsoever with the people on the other side of the table. I only got a courtesy call a few days later.

Having recovered from this first shell-shock of a job interview, I figured I needed all the advice I could get. So I took to the interweb and trawled through the thousands of pages giving tips on how to ensure a winning performance at a job interview. Most pages contained generic advice. What I needed were some practical tips…and voila!

I came across exactly what I needed: a grubby, ad-filled, webpage reassuringly entitled How to dress for a job interview. The site contained a lengthy treatise on the benefits of different tie colours. Blue is friendly and open, apparently. Red is dominant and aggressive, but the most important part was the last sentence, never wear a pink necktie to an interview, some recuriters will hold it against you.

Slightly baffled that someone would hold the colour of candyfloss against anyone I actually felt a bit relieved. Maybe there was another reason why things hadn’t clicked into place at the interview. Maybe it wasn’t lack of preparation or a stumbling presentation. We all get nervous and we all run out of time sometimes. It was in fact my stunning tribute to the pastel shades of wedding goers. My necktie had sent all the wrong signals as soon as I walked in the door. It takes about the first 15 seconds of a job interview for an interviewer to decide if you have the job. They were probably looking at my tie for 10 of them.

For my next interview, I bought a nice navy trustworthy, gentle number and, brimming with newfound confidence in my safe and dependable appearance, I aced it and was accepted for the very internship that kick-started my career.

Now, there might be a broader lesson here, if you learn from past interviews, and treat each one like just another valuable opportunity to gain experience, failure will in fact give you confidence. It can’t be as bad as last time right?

My advice? Guys, don’t wear a pink tie to interviews. I won’t hold it against you, but some less than 21st century recruiters in grey suits probably will.

Wouter IJzermans, Maastricht
Wouter IJzermans, Maastricht

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