Well, that Ended Quick

Just had a phone screen with a Seattle employer that lasted all but a minute or so.

Reason was the second question asked, which had nothing to do with technical competence. It had to do with a (very conservative, East Coast-ish dress code), which is something of a surprise to run into on the West Coast.

And no, I am not interested in such things. First, I find such garb physically uncomfortable. If I’m distracted by (lack of) physical comfort, my concentration and thus my job are negatively affected. Why would I want to limit myself like that?

Second, such apparel is expensive. Expensive to purchase, and expensive to maintain (dry cleaning doesn’t come cheap). So such a requirement basically amounts to an additional tax on my salary.

It’s not just me, either. I don’t abide by many stereotypes of software geeks but the above sentiments would probably be echoed exactly by the vast majority of software professionals.

Which brings up a third, yet more insidious reason to avoid the place. There’s basically two kinds of people that such dress codes screen for:

  1. People who enjoy dressing up like that.
  2. People who put up with dressing like that because it means getting a job of a sort they otherwise couldn’t.

Those in category one are basically harmless. So Joe or Jane Programmer enjoys dressing up in business suits? So what? If it makes them happy and they do their job better as a result, fine. Dress codes are something of a plus for this crowd as it lets them work on the West Coast, enjoy dressing up, and yet avoid this problem.

Those in category two are the problem. They’re at the place with the dress code because a huge chunk of everybody else in the programming field is not, thus removing more technically-competent competition from the picture.

Prevailing attitudes amongst software geeks mean this crowd probably ends up being in the majority. That my interviewer ended up asking this question very early in the process indicates it’s a show-stopper for many candidates, which validates my suspicion.

Why would I want to limit myself by working with subpar talent?

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