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ought to I’ve informed my coworker his outfit made it appear like he was going to a job interview? — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I in the end determined to do nothing on this state of affairs, however I’m curious to listen to what you assume. I’ve a coworker, let’s name him Keith, who’s in his early to mid 20s and joined my firm about six months in the past. Keith is contemporary out of faculty and really shiny and keen. Our workplace of about 12-15 folks is pretty informal — most individuals put on denims on our in-office days, however Keith often wears khakis, a button-down, and a tie.

Anyhow, sooner or later lately he confirmed as much as our workplace in a darkish go well with and tie. This was stunning, so one coworker requested why he seemed so good. Keith replied that he “simply felt prefer it.” Now, figuring out what I do know of Keith that is solely potential, that he simply determined to put on a go well with on a random workplace day. Nonetheless, it after all appears to be like like he was going to a job interview. I do know I’m not the one one who thought so — one other colleague shared with me that they’d the identical thought and I heard a number of colleagues comment on his outfit in a means that made it sound like they have been puzzled and suspicious, too.

Ought to I’ve stated something to him privately about the way it seemed? Is there ever a state of affairs the place that will be okay? I ask as a result of Keith is very nice, but in addition nonetheless determining office norms. I feel it’s completely potential this wouldn’t have occurred to him, and whereas it could possibly be a clumsy or embarrassing dialog for him, I feel it will be useful for him to know that individuals discover these items. I’ve been on this workplace quite a bit longer than Keith and have given him and different new, youthful hires a number of (solicited) recommendation about our workplace and its tradition and numerous my colleagues (together with Keith) belief my opinion and look to me for recommendation about all method of work-related issues. Moreover, our CEO can run cold and hot with some colleagues, together with Keith, and having labored below this CEO so lengthy I’ve little question that they observed his apparel and jumped to the identical conclusion I did. If the CEO thinks somebody is seeking to go away, they usually get additional prickly with them.

So, what do you assume? Whereas I in the end determined after chatting with a (non-work) pal to do nothing (as she rightfully informed me it was NOT my downside), wouldn’t it have been unhealthy if I did gently pull him apart and provides him some well-meaning recommendation? I’m curious to listen to your ideas.

I don’t disagree together with your pal that this isn’t your downside … however I really feel unhealthy for Keith, who’s new and keen and making an attempt to make a very good impression and would possibly do not know concerning the impression he was giving folks! And that goes double in mild of what you stated about your CEO doubtlessly getting additional prickly with him in the event that they assume he’s job-searching.

Lots of people — particularly youthful people who find themselves new to skilled work — assume a go well with at all times reads as applicable (most likely as a result of numerous us are raised to imagine that carrying a go well with reveals you care about making a very good impression), with out realizing there are contexts the place it may well ship completely different messages.

So when you don’t have to say one thing — it’s completely acceptable to only thoughts your personal enterprise and go away this alone — it feels like Keith would possibly admire a discreet heads-up, particularly when you’ve got a very good relationship with him, which it sounds such as you do.

It doesn’t have to be a giant, severe speak. It might simply be, “Hey, you may not know this, however there’s an entire trope about how when somebody immediately reveals as much as work in a go well with, it’s as a result of they’ve a job interview that day. Clearly that’s not at all times the case and it’s nobody’s enterprise anyway, however that assumption is so ingrained in skilled tradition that I believed I ought to point out it in case it’s one thing you’d need to know.”

Apparently (to me, anyway), I might not say this if I have been Keith’s supervisor. The ability dynamics would give the dialog a special really feel, with an excessive amount of danger of him studying it as an try to intimidate him if he have been job-searching. However you’re not his boss and it sounds such as you’re properly positioned as a mentor-type determine, so that you’re clear to tip him off for those who assume he’d admire it.

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