Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
March 1, 2011

Question: We recently received many applications for a sales position at our store. I chose the three best-looking applicants (on paper) and invited them in for an interview. The first applicant was one I was really excited about meeting and hoped she would be a great asset. But when she arrived, I was put off by her appearance. She wasn’t dirty, but she looked a bit disheveled and lacked style in her presentation or wardrobe. She was pleasant and outgoing, had good answers to my questions, and seemed to like people, yet I am reluctant to hire her. Should I look past her appearance and give her a try?

Answer: If you really liked her, I would take the time to call her references and call her back for a second interview. Maybe you just caught her on an “off” day. However, if she shows up and her appearance is not markedly improved, I would not hire her. Oftentimes what you see is what you get, and you don’t have time to teach an employee about good grooming. If you are put off by her appearance, your customers will be too, so it’s wise to pick a candidate who has the people skills you need and a professional appearance.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to