As a member of the working force of America, I personally underwent several job interviews in my time. Despite my innermost fears and the intimidating competition I faced, I am proud to share that I came out rather unscathed and, thankfully, employed. From my experiences, I have learned that landing a position requires more than a laundry list of experience and credibility, and that your first impression is just as crucial to the interviewer as your list of skills. Thus, combining my own tips and those of popular career-related websites (such as Monster and About.com), I present to you a list of what to do and avoid when it comes to preparing your appearance for an important interview.
DO: Dress for success.
DO NOT: Dress to ‘impress.’
First and foremost, it is vital to keep in mind what qualifies as ‘appropriate’ for the job you are seeking. Alison Doyle, a job search and employment expert who writes for About.com, states, “The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That’s why it’s always important to dress appropriately for a job interview.” For men, that usually means the standard suit-belt-tie routine, depending on the job that is. For women, however, there are more options. Women can wear a suit, long skirt and blouse, or modest dress to just about any job interview. Remember to keep your attire conservative and resist showing off cleavage. Make sure the interviewer knows you are a professional and must be treated as such, so keep any sort of sensuality to an absolute minimal.
DO: Stick to neutral or dark colors.
DO NOT: Arrive in an obnoxiously vibrant color to ‘stand out.’
While it may seem like a good idea to show up to a group interview in a ‘highlighter yellow’ blouse so that you can stand apart from the crowd, your outfit has a hefty possibility of coming across as loud and repugnant. Even worse, you may be remembered only for being a constant eyesore and not taken seriously as anything else. During an interview in which you would be competing for attention, your personality should be what sets you apart and your outfit only compliments your well-kept look. Stay away from the bright orange, the lime green, and the neon pink outfits in the closet and instead stick with the navy, black, or dark grey colors. These colors are generally more traditional and far less dramatic in appearance.
Photo by Ascension Digital
DO: Maintain a clean, orderly exterior.
DO NOT: Overdo the makeup department.
It goes without saying that the key to a presentable outer shell includes being hygienic. Naturally, that means a washed face and grease-free hair. Because you most likely will be shaking hands with the interviewer, ensure that your hands are sanitary and sweat-free beforehand. Keep the makeup level light and do not bombard your face with too much eye shadow and foundation; light foundation, mascarra, and a hint of blush should do the trick. Just as with your clothes, stick with less flashy colors. An interviewer wants to speak to the real you, not the overly dolled-up version you attempt to come across as and ultimately do not need.
DO: Focus on the entire outfit.
DO NOT: Stress the accessories.
When coordinating an outfit, accessories are always part of the picture. When coordinating for a job interview, leave the homemade beaded bracelets and funky, feathered necklaces at home. Instead, pick jewelry that is subtler but works with what you want to wear. Make sure your overall appearance comes together well, as no bracelet, earring, or necklace should be too noticeable. Keep in mind that whatever does stand out will immediately catch the interviewer’s eye and you may make more of an impression than intended. “It’s important to choose accessories that will enhance your interview attire – not overwhelm it.” Doyle advises.
DO: Consider how you smell.
DO NOT: Think soaking yourself in perfume will help.
In this situation, there are two extremes; On one hand, you could have dosed yourself in perfume in the hopes of impressing the interviewer with your taste in Bath and Body Works products. On the other hand, your resistance towards any sort of hygienic scents may stink up your interview. Steer clear of either possibility. A light touch of perfume goes a long way, just as humbly applying makeup is more appealing than an extra three layers of blush. Keep in mind that less is more. Additionally, try not smoking on the day of the interview, as the scent will cling to your clothes and leave you smelling like an ashtray for the entire day. Gladys Stone and Fred Whelan, two contributing writers for Monster assert “While a smoker may be immune to the smell of nicotine in his clothes, the interviewer sharing the same small space (like an office) may find that odor unpleasant.” If a hypothetical smoker also chose to mask the smell with an overbearing amount of perfume or cologne, the distracting stench may be too uncomfortable for anyone to stand.
DO: Put together your outfit ahead of time.
DO NOT: Wait until the day of an interview to realize you lack the proper attire.
Just as you would practice your answers to an interviewer’s potential questions, practice your outfit for the interview in advance. By collecting together the outfit you plan on wearing to the interview, you save yourself the hassle of pillaging through the closet to find everything the day of. Furthermore, you can practice what to say in the professional attire, just as an actress would in a dress rehearsal. Knowing you have your clothes planned out and that they properly fit takes off some stress and allows you to focus on how you will present yourself in other ways.
DO: Ensure a presentable ‘first look.’
DO NOT: Rely on your appearance to magically remain unchanged since you left the car.
During your initial meet-and-greet with a hiring manager or recruiter, expect to be glanced over. This is when your appearance matters most, as it is the first time he or she is seeing what you look like and imagining how you will fit within the company. So in order to ensure approval, check hair and makeup (the two most probable to spontaneously rebel on you last-minute) and make sure your outfit is on straight and correctly buttoned. This should be taken into account before you step in to present yourself and should not be overlooked. As the interviewer is taking in what you look like, remember to smile (and actually mean it!).
Happy job hunting!
Feauture Photo by Imagery Majestic