Is a Nose Ring an Interview Dealbreaker?
July 27, 2009 by Sweet Hot Counsel
Q: I’m about to start my second year at law school (T20) and will be participating in fall OCI and am hoping to land a job at a big law firm for next summer (I know, don’t shred me for that, please). My school offers “mock interviews” with alumni and I just went on mine. The interviewer was pretty nice but suggested that I remove the very, very small nose ring stud that I wear. I actually dress pretty conservatively and looked professional for the interview—skirt suit, hair neatly tied back, sensible shoes and all that. I don’t think the nose ring is offensive and it’s part of my style and who I am. I don’t ever take it out and don’t think I should have to compromise my principles and who I am just to get a job. BUT, I also want to get experience working in a big firm and I worry that it might stop me from getting through the door, as stupid as that may be. Will firms really care about this in interviews or is my mock interviewer just an uptight big-firm prick?
A: Hm. The question seems to be less about whether your mock interviewer is an uptight big-firm prick (and chances are, he is, but that has nothing to do with nose rings) and more about whether you’re suited to work in Big Law in the first place. Why do you even want to work there? Because I hate to break it to you, but Big Law’s a pretty uptight place—the kind of place where wearing jeans is cause for a firm-wide meeting. Nose rings don’t even make the agenda. And if you think that people who disapprove of nose rings (i.e. 99.9% of the people who work in Big Law) are pricks, why do you want their approval in the first place?
Because here’s the thing: If there’s one thing that working in Big Law requires, it’s compromising who you are for the job—well, unless who you are happens to be a person with no edge, humor, personality, joie de vivre or desire to have a social life. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s admirable that you don’t want to compromise your staunch principles just for this job. But what “principles” are we dealing with here, exactly? The ones that involve equal rights for fans of decorative body jewelry? We’re not debating ethnic cleansing or genital mutilation here, cookie. We’re debating a crusty metal chip stuck in your nose. (And speaking of which, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you a heads up that the pretty-girl-with-an-ironic-nose-ring look may have worked to boost your cool factor in college, but when you’re an actual grown-up, wearing a nose ring with a suit doesn’t make you look unique and edgy; it makes you look a poser from the suburbs who’s still trying to piss off Mommy and Daddy but didn’t want to commit to a tattoo. Just sayin’.)
So, if you really want to have a shot at Big Law, just play the game and take the goddamn ring out of your nose. An hour without it won’t kill you or erase your finely honed sense of self. Because you’re right—you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are to get a job. You also shouldn’t have to, say, be nice to your in-laws on Thanksgiving or give your BF a BJ just ’cause it’s his birthday. Sometimes, though, you have to do something you’re not thrilled about for the sake of your own personal greater good. Just make sure that greater good is something you want in the first place.
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