The old job-search adage, "Don't dress for the job you have; dress for the job you want," doesn't apply in all circumstances. If you applied for a job as a pharmacy assistant, it's likely that you'll wear something similar to a lab coat or a medical smock. Wear typical, professional interview attire to your meeting with a recruiter or hiring manager for the pharmacy assistant or pharmacy tech interview.
From Job to Interview
If you're currently working as a pharmacy assistant and part of your daily attire is a lab coat, take it off before you go to your job interview. The recruiter or hiring manager has read your resume and already knows you work in the field, so you don't need to broadcast it by arriving in something that screams, "Yes, I work in the health care field." Also, wearing your lab coat outside the premises is a no-no that suggests you're not all that diligent about cleanliness and health care protocol.
Suit or Separates?
If this is an entry-level position or this is your first professional job and you feel comfortable talking to the interviewer about appearance, just ask what's the most appropriate attire. Many workplaces shifted to business casual dress, which means many job seekers are donning less formal attire for interviews. The reasonable choices are between wearing a suit and wearing matching separates, but if you're in doubt and you don't have a reliable source to ask, go with the suit. You can never go wrong by dressing too formally for an interview, but you risk your chances of being hired if your dress is too casual..
Colors and Shoes
If you choose a suit, wear one in a dark or muted shade with a coordinating blouse or shell underneath. On the other hand, if you prefer matching separates, stick with a solid color, such as navy, charcoal gray or brown sweater and slacks or skirt. Wear flats or mid-heel pumps and neutral hose. Don't go to an interview bare-legged or wearing sandals or any other inappropriate footwear. A pharmacy assistant might be required to stand on her feet a lot, so wear shoes that look comfortable and supportive, without resorting to Dr. Scholl's footwear. The key is to be fashionable, yet understated.
Just as it's better to be overdressed than under-dressed, it's better to go with a minimalist approach concerning accessories, makeup and fragrance than it is to go overboard. Limit your accessories to just a watch and one ring; if you have multiple piercings, wear just one pair of small earrings, but not the dangling chandelier-style nor the silver-dollar-size hoops. Be conservative. After all, this is part of the health care industry, and you want to be particularly careful that you don't raise any red flags about whether you truly understand health care employees' regulations.
Speaking of health regulations, make sure that you look after grooming details, such as hair and nails. Wear your hair neatly styled. You don't need to look like a spinster librarian, but avoid wearing your hair in some cumbersome-looking 'do or unnatural hair colors. The health care field is a conservative one and an interview is your only chance to make a great first impression. Also, make sure your nails are a reasonable length and well-manicured. The Joint Commission doesn't include pharmacy assistants in its regulations about nails for health care employees -- short, no more than four-day-old manicures, no chipped polish and no acrylics -- but it's strict on these rules for nurses and others involved in direct patient care. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you're a pharmacy assistant in a hospital setting, you probably will have direct contact with patients and could, therefore, be expected to follow the same rules as employees who have constant interaction with patients.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.