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Dorling Kindersley—Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley
By Samantha Cooney
August 23, 2016

Want to nail that job interview? Better leave your flashy engagement ring at home.

That’s the much-criticized advice from executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz, who wrote a viral LinkedIn post on why he thinks wearing an engagement ring on an interview can hurt a woman’s chance of landing the gig.

“When a man sees that ring he immediately assumes you are high maintenance,” Hurwitz wrote in the post. “When the woman at the office who has the largest diamond on her finger, sees that ring, she will realize that if you are hired she will fall to second place and will, therefore, not like you. Lose the ring!”

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He added: “And, if you don’t have one, but got engaged by signing a pre-nup, find a way to let male interviewers know that. They’ll respect you. (Women may as well, but I’m not certain that this is the case.)”

Hurwitz said that losing the engagement ring helped one of his clients land a job. But commenters and bloggers say that Hurwitz needs to lose the sexism.

“It’s ridiculous and it makes women sound petty and small,” one commenter wrote. “Welcome to 2016 Mr. Hurwitz you may want to join us here.”

“Your ‘guidance’ is misguided, petty and misogynistic, and I hope no one takes your advice because any company who would hire someone under those circumstances is not a company any woman with integrity would want to work for,” another commenter wrote.

It’s “decidedly sexist,” Michelle Ruiz wrote in an essay on Vogue.com. “We working women, 40 percent of sole or primary American breadwinners, (still) fighting for equal pay and paid leave, while raising children, often with no viable options for affordable childcare, are concerning ourselves with the size of our prospective women colleagues’ engagement rings, and subsequently hating those women who have bigger rings than we do. We are that shallow (despite outnumbering men in college enrollment) and have so much ample time on our hands that we are sniffing out the ring sizes not even of our colleagues, but of interviewees, at our companies. Nailed it!”

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But one woman agreed with Hurwitz’s general idea, writing in a blog post on Bravo that wearing an engagement ring prompted inappropriate (and, not to mention, illegal) questions from interviewers, like her husband’s profession or if she had kids.

After the influx of criticism, Hurwitz doubled down on his comments in two additional LinkedIn posts. “So when a male interviewer sees what appears to be an expensive engagement ring he assumes the wearer is, as I said in the article, “high maintenance.'” Hurwitz wrote. “He may be willing to have a high-maintenance woman in his personal life; he doesn’t necessarily want one in his office.”

He also said that he wouldn’t advise men to wear Rolexes to job interviews for similar reasons.

“In a perfect world we would be judged solely on our professional qualifications. It is not a perfect world. And our behavior is relevant in a job interview. Behavior includes what you wear to an interview and, whether you like it or not, how you behave on-line,” Hurwitz wrote. “Except if it is for religious or health purposes, or a consequence of sexual orientation, an employer can reject an employee based on what they are wearing. They can always be rejected based on how they act.”

When reached for comment, Hurwitz responded in an email, pasted in full:

I honestly don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Interviewers have eyes; they look at the applicants. They see what they wear; they note their hygiene; they look at their behavior.

As a recruiter, it is my job to screen candidates. Personally, I could care less what a candidate wears, as long as they are dressed and act professionally and, of course, are qualified for the job. That said, we live in the real world and, when hiring, people have to choose between qualified candidates. They differentiate between them based on factors extraneous to the job qualifications. Primarily, the concern is whether or not they will fit in. That’s the real world. When I give advice to career counseling clients, it is based on the real world not some idealistic fantasy. (I do not give advice to candidates. I give my executive recruiting clients a six-month guarantee that if, for any reason, a placement does not work out, I will conduct a replacement search for free. If I advise a candidate to change in some way for the interview, and they get hired, it won’t last. I want it to last. My loyalty, so to speak, is to my client, the employer, in the case of candidates. When, however, the client is a job seeker, I give them my advise. They can accept or reject it but it is my responsibility to offer it.)

In the third post I wrote about the women, and men, who spoke up in favor of what I wrote. I think the “sexist” charge is a reflection of the critics, not me. “Sexist” means, “The belief that one sex (usually the male) is naturally superior to the other and should dominate most important areas of political, economic, and social life.”How in the world is what I wrote “sexist?” I treated the male objection equal to the female. I related what I considered to be facts and offered what proved to be good advise. I did not state an opinion on either the male or female sides of the equation. Both are equally wrong and both are equally real. I don’t give advice based on a perfect world but rather based on the real world. Thank you for reaching out with substantive questions and for reading all three posts.

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