A good first impression makes a winning interview! I interviewed thousands of candidates for various careers during my business career. I make decisions about candidates when I meet them before I ask the first question. Before you pillory me for my quick judgment, you do the same thing, but don’t realize it. How long do you spend thinking about what to wear or how to present yourself?
An interview is a test! It may be the biggest or most important test you will take. Why do people treat it so lightly? There is so much advice, but very little, if any stresses the first few seconds of the interview. It is that short few seconds when you meet which sets the stage for success or failure. How you look, act and speak will set the stage for the interview. That is right, it only takes a few seconds to create or destroy an interview.
What to Wear
I have seen literally thousands of job candidates who do not know what to wear to interviews. Whether you are applying for a minimum wage job or executive position, you should always dress well for the interview. It sends a clear message to the interviewer that you are serious about the interview and you are sincerely interested. Remember, the employer expects you to be your best which includes how you dress for the interview. Don’t forget grooming which includes hair, face, clothing and hygiene.
Men and women should wear conservative clothes. The employer should not think about the annoying perfume, dirty fingernails or purple suit. You may interview with a man or woman and each will notice and remember different things about what you wear or look like. Men who have Mohawks may be acceptable in certain industries, but probably not banking, legal or a high end store. Women in tight clothes or too revealing may be memorable for a male interviewer will definitely be unacceptable with a woman interviewer. Too much make up will send the wrong message particularly to a woman.
What should you wear? Men and women should wear a dark conservative suit. Women can wear a dress, but be very careful to make a conservative choice. Style may be important to you, but it will only impress an employer in the fashion industry. Shirts/blouses, shoes etc should match the conservative image you are trying to present. When I interviewed for executive positions, I wore a navy blue pinstripe suit, white/blue shirt and a burgundy or red tie. I remember interviewing a female candidate that wore a navy blue suit (jacket & skirt) with a pink blouse and navy shoes. Two (2) examples of what you should wear.
Grooming choices can destroy your image! Does your hair look neat or will I remember you because of your hairstyle? Good hygiene should be a given and pay attention to the little things such as fingernails, haircut, perfume or jewelry. As far as perfume make up or jewelry, less is better! Are your shoes shined and in decent condition? Be careful with your accessories such as a tie for men or scarves for women. It is an opportunity to show your personality, but don’t go too far.
Soft (social) Skills
Remember, you have not even started the interview and you are being judged! Your work skills and experience may get your job, but soft skills will get you fired! Soft skills can prevent you from getting the job as well. Good soft skills stand out as a candidate. Little things like good/positive attitude, manners, etiquette, language skills, courtesy, reliability/dependability, eye contact, writing/math skills, good references and personal chemistry. Wow! It is quite a laundry list of soft skills that may be revealed before you even interview!
You arrived for the interview and probably talked to the receptionist. She/he may have handed you an application and you filled it out before the interview. The interviewer saw the application before he/she interviewed you. Did you arrive early enough to fill out the application or did you pick it up in advance? Is it neat, completely filled out and is the information relevant? Are you a good fit? Did you match your skills to the job description? How are your writing and reading skills? What kind of impression do you make?
Now you are ready for the interview! Either the interviewer will come out to meet you or someone will take you to him/her. Either way, you have an opportunity to show you fit into the organization. You had an opportunity when you talked with the receptionist. Trust me, the receptionist is watching you. Don’t use and turn off your cellular phone. Don’t underestimate that person in the organization, I routinely asked the receptionist about the candidate. Were you smiling, on time, organized, polite, pleasant or what was your first impression are just some of my questions?
First impressions are important! So much is decided before you actually had the interview. You were probably selected for the interview based on your resume. Now people you do not know will make judgments about you before you actually interview. It will be based on your image and how you speak and act. Is it fair? Yes, because you will represent the employer over the phone or in person. Someone cannot monitor you all the time and that would be very ineffective if they did. A good first impression makes a winning interview!
Photo by: bpsusf
A good first impression makes a winning interview!