The day for your interview has been scheduled. That means you were among the handful of people selected out of dozens of applicants to continue the competition toward the job offer. Not only do you need this job very badly, but also you studied for it thoroughly by preparing yourself for difficult interview questions and you’re really psyched up. But wait. What will you wear to this coveted interview?
An administrative assistant will usher you into an office or conference room where the interviewer and possibly others are waiting for you. They’ve studied your résumé and are prepared. The door opens and you walk in–energetically and with a big smile. They’re looking at you and noticing your appearance. You’re making an impression, and you want that impression to be excellent. You also know that that first impression is a lasting one. Some of what they see cannot be changed. This is the way you look–whether it’s good or bad. But there’s a lot you can do to improve this first and vital impression.
For men it is to some extent easier. Make sure your appearance is clean. A recent haircut and a close shave are musts; a graying beard or mustache adds years to your age. Typically, a well-tailored suit in a dark color–but not black–is recommended. In summer a nice light color is appropriate but preferably for the follow-up interview, not the first one. However, if the dress code is business casual, the suit may be waived. The shirt–well fitted and in a contemporary style–should complement your attire. Investing in a today’s-fashion tie is smart. A haberdashery sales associate could guide you, or you could look at a few pictures in one of the clothing-store catalogs that get stuffed periodically into your mailbox. A belt, too, should accentuate your positive appearance. Socks should be in a solid color, without any visible pattern, and should match the color of your shoes. Shoes are extremely important, not only to feel comfortable in but also because they, too, speak about you. A well-shined pair of new shoes creates the image you want to present.
The same principles apply to women as well. A hairstyle that enhances appearance is important. Don’t overdo makeup, and my recommendation is to skip the perfume when going for an interview. Your taste in perfumes may not match others’, and the aroma may linger long after you’ve left the office. If you smoke, I suggest you refrain from smoking for at least six hours prior to the interview and that you make sure your interview clothing has been aired out; nonsmokers can detect smokers from far away. Keep jewelry to a minimum, and remember that cleavage and revealing, short skirts might enhance your candidacy in the modeling profession, but if you’re applying for other jobs, consider a more professional, conservative look.
Remember the cliché that “the clothing makes the man,” and if you believe it, then investing in your interview wardrobe to enhance your image and thus your chances for the job offer makes sense.
Alex Freund is the founder of Landing Expert–Career Coaching. His Web site includes a current and comprehensive list of job search networking groups in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and the city of New York, and the site is visited by thousands of people every month. Landing Expert is a premier career-coaching service with the objective of preparing job seekers for interviews. Alex’s clients are gaining knowledge, receiving marketing material, and acquiring the know-how to beat the competition.
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