Appearance at the Interview
There are some things about an interview that you cannot control
Appearance is not one of them. Consider conservative very carefully.
The key word for all business interviewing (regardless of the position
you are seeking) is conservative. An applicant can never go wrong
displaying conservative demeanor during a job interview. Proper planning
beforehand can help make the experience easy, beneficial, and almost
pleasant However, lack of planning will be recognized immediately by a
important part of the pre-planning stage is appearance. Studies indicate
that an applicant's appearance is the most important part of a first
impression, created during the first few minutes of a job interview. The
fact is, if you provide a positive first impression, you will be
considered for the position a high percentage of the time. On the other
hand, if you provide a negative first impression, you will be rejected
for the position a high percentage of the time. These percentages vary,
but remain consistent with that age-old saying: You never get a second
chance to make a first impression. The first impression is based
primarily on appearance, and secondly on communications skills and basic
interviewing practices. There are other principles that come into play
here, as well. Employers believe that people are more productive when
they are dressed well. Further, an applicant should dress for a position
as if applying for a job one or two steps higher than the one being
interviewed for. Many years ago, these theories could have been ignored
or argued. Hiring was accomplished by evaluating proper education,
skills, work experience, or any combination of the three. But in today's
society, with the incredibly competitive marketplace, the criteria of
impact packaging has toppled any previous standard of hiring. Yet, there
are applicants who sincerely believe that the way they look is not
terribly important and that their appearance does not truly affect their
changes of getting a job, as long as they are qualified. Only minor
preparation takes place for some people in the appearance arena, and
this is a mistake. Upon polling interviewers, it was found that at the
outset of a job screening (usually the first three minutes), several
things unconsciously occurred. Many interviewers noted that the first
items observed in that three-minute time frame were whether the
applicant was the same or different from him/her.
Is this applicant male
What is the approximate
age of this individual?
What is the ethnic
background of the applicant?
In other words: Is this
person the same gender as I am, near my age, and of my same race or
ethnic background? These thoughts or observations are not negative or
positive - though at first glance they may seem to be. They are just
unconscious observations. This thought process occurs without the
interviewer even realizing it. Unfortunately, there is nothing an
applicant can do about such facts, not even for the perfect position.
However, the next question - or observation - offers the applicant some
control. What about this person's appearance? In addition to the actual
physical appearance, a physical presence must also be maintained as part
of the conservative interview package: poise, eye contact, confidence,
and smile. Wear basic, conservative clothing for interviewing. Though a
positive trend in society might be to dress according to the most recent
fad, just one conservative interviewer can make the practice a risk for
the applicant. Although a conservative interviewer might make a negative
judgment due to an applicant's trendy clothing, a chic interviewer will
usually not make a negative judgment if the applicant is dressed
conservatively. Conservative behavior is respected across the board.
Make an effort to wear what you feel good in and something that you feel
looks good on you. When you feel good about your appearance, it will
show in the way you carry yourself and your overall performance. Choose
colors and styles that accent your personality, but never wear clothing
that is too flashy. Women should reject low-cut clothing. Men should
avoid too-short pant legs, outlandish ties, and clothing that does not
fit appropriately. Party clothes and blue jeans are not acceptable - no
matter what. After you ready yourself for an interview, take a long look
in the mirror. Women should not have runs in stockings, poorly applied
(or too much) makeup, excessive jewelry, or glittery hair accessories.
Men should not have stained ties or wrinkled shirts. Employers are very
good at making connections: sloppy appearance often equals sloppy job
performance. Basically, common sense is required. Ask yourself: Is there
a slim possibility that what I'm wearing might make a negative
impression on someone? Take into consideration the time needed to affect
the perfect appearance. Once accomplished (before the interview), you
will be better equipped to handle the other intricacies of the process
without worrying about the physical judgments being made about you.
DON'T TAKE THE CHANCE
At a job interview, even one of the following items can negatively
affect that first impression:
Chewing gum or smoking
Physical habits such as
tapping fingers or clicking pens, bouncing legs or shuffling feet
Messy or unclean hair
Negative body odors or
Torn or patched clothing
Unusual hair, such as
lettering cut into it, spikes, bleached, odd colors
Too much jewelry or
jewelry attached to odd places visible on the body (such as nose
Worn or unpolished
shoes; gym shoes
Any form of poor
Written by: Dinah
How to Dress for your Interview
The first three minutes of
your interview are most critical because you get but one chance for a
good first impression. Before you can utter your first word, your
appearance has already spoken volumes about you. While it does not speak
of your job skills, your appearance will be judged in some respects by
what you wear. Therefore, your clothing should not only make you feel
good about yourself but also project a professional image matching the
requirements of the position and the company.
The key to projecting a professional image is, first and foremost, to
dress tastefully and conservatively. Beyond that, the guidelines are
Guidelines for women
Dresses, suits: conservative business suit or dress of a natural or
woven-blend fabric in a soft color complementing your skin and hair
color -- blue, navy, gray, beige, tan or brown. Skirt length should be
at least to the bottom of the knee.
Blouses: simple style, white or soft colors. Avoid very frilly styles
and low-cut necklines.
Shoes: sensible shoes; polished pumps or medium heels in a color that
matches your outfit.
Hose: natural, beige, or tan; avoid patterns or lacy stockings.
Purse: (optional) small or medium size in a color that goes with your
Nail polish: either clear or conservative color.
Jewelry: simple, minimal. One set of earrings only. No more than one
ring on each hand.
Guidelines for men
Suits: dark blue, gray, brown, or very muted pin-stripes. A good-quality
woven blend of natural fibers looks professional. Suits should be
properly tailored and freshly dry-cleaned.
Shirts: a good quality, white button-down or white classic collar
preferred. Most importantly, make sure the shirt is pressed.
Ties: silk or good quality blends only. Conservative stripes or paisleys
that complement your suit. The tip of a tie should end near the center
of the belt buckle.
Shoes: highly polished slip-ons or laced dress shoes in black, brown, or
cordovan. Dark socks.
Facial hair: no beards; mustaches are a possible negative. If you must,
make sure it is neatly trimmed.
Jewelry: no chains, bands, or necklaces showing. No rings other than
wedding ring or college ring. No earrings (if you normally wear one,
take it out.)
For both women and men
Clean, manicured fingernails.
Minimal perfume or cologne. Best if applied at least two hours before
the interview. A little goes a long way in a small, closed interview
Empty pockets? no tinkling change or bulges.
No gum or cigarettes.
No body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.)
Pay attention to even smallest details. Interviewers often consider the
condition of your shoes as a way to tell whether you pay attention to
detail. To that end, avoid shoes that are not shined or that have
Suppose it's a dinner interview?
The dinner interview may be a semi-formal or formal function. The
written invitation will usually indicate whether the event is
semi-formal or formal. For the semi-formal dinner, men's wear is
typically a nice, dark colored suit with a white shirt; women may wear a
knee-length business suit or a cocktail length dress. For a formal
dinner or a black-tie event, men should wear a tuxedo with no tails, and
women, a long dress with matching shoes. Low-cut, sexy dresses or
colorful, far-out ties are not appropriate for either of these
Just use common sense
If you show up for your interview dressed in business attire and your
potential employer is not, don't worry. It is far better to be dressed
professionally than to be dressed too casually. Employers want people
who are broad based in their abilities to learn, grow, and contribute,
employees who are flexible. Being dressed in a suit won't hurt your
ability to be seen as someone employable.
Remember, your competence is not based on what you wear but rather on
your business and personal knowledge and skills. Clothing simply allows
you to state who you are and helps you to reach your professional goals.
Appearance can be a powerful and useful tool in controlling the kind of
message you send to others. With a little common sense and attention to
details, you can easily make sure that first impression is your best.
Written By: Sher Creel