It’s probably one of the most overused phrases in job-hunting, but also one of the most underutilized by job-seekers: dress for success. In job-hunting, first impressions are critical.
Remember, you are marketing a product — yourself — to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire; thus, you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking.
Will dressing properly get you the job? Of course not, but it will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression.
Should you be judged by what you wear? Perhaps not, but the reality is, of course, that you are judged. Throughout the entire job-seeking process employers use short-cuts — heuristics or rules of thumb — to save time. With cover letters, it’s the opening paragraph and a quick scan of your qualifications. With resumes, it is a quick scan of your accomplishments. With the job interview, it’s how you’re dressed that sets the tone of the interview.
How should you dress? Dressing conservatively is always the safest route, but you should also try and do a little investigating of your prospective employer so that what you wear to the interview makes you look as though you fit in with the organization. If you overdress (which is rare but can happen) or underdress (the more likely scenario), the potential employer may feel that you don’t care enough about the job.
How do you find out what is the proper dress for a given job/company/industry? You can call the Human Resources office where you are interviewing and simply ask. Or, you could visit the company’s office to retrieve an application or other company information and observe the attire current employees are wearing — though make sure you are not there on a “casual day” and misinterpret the dress code.
Finally, do you need to run out and spend a lot of money on clothes for interviewing? No, but you should make sure you have at least two professional sets of attire. You’ll need more than that, but depending on your current financial condition, two is enough to get started and you can buy more once you have the job or have more financial resources.
- Hints for Dress for Success for Men and Women
Attention to details is crucial, so here are some tips for both men and women. Make sure you have:
- Clean And Polished Conservative Dress Shoes
- Well-Groomed Hairstyle
- Cleaned And Trimmed Fingernails
- Minimal Cologne Or Perfume
- No Visible Body Piercing Beyond Conservative Ear Piercings For Women
- Well-Brushed Teeth And Fresh Breath
- No Gum, Candy, Or Other Objects In Your Mouth
- Minimal Jewelry
- No Body Odor
Finally, check your attire in the rest room just before your interview for a final check of your appearance — to make sure your tie is straight, your hair is combed, etc.
Life is all about making good first impressions with the people we meet. This article provides tips for making good first impressions in business and networking situations; with business cards, cover letters, and resumes; in job interviews; and when you are starting a new job.
Few more easy tips to follow:
- Do get a good night’s sleep the night before this potentially grueling day. Also look for opportunities to refresh yourself during the interview day. If there’s a break in the action, splash some water on your face or take a brisk walk to rejuvenate. You might want to take along a pocket- or purse-sized snack in case there is no lunch break. Breath spray or a mini-bottle of mouthwash is also not a bad idea. Be careful not to run out of steam toward the end of the day. Maintain your energy, confidence, and enthusiasm.
- Do be aware that you might be asked to complete psychometric tests dealing with such things as skills, intelligence, and personality. There’s not a lot you can do to prepare for them — but that good night’s sleep will help.
- Don’t slack off with your interview attire. A second interview generally doesn’t denote a more casual interview. The former Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) had a protocol for the three on-campus interviews it conducted with college students that called for skirted suits for women for the first two interviews. Female candidates were permitted to wear pantsuits to the third interview. Check with company insiders to see what attire is expected for each interview.
- Do remember these three more words: Fit, Fit, and Fit. A major reason for the second interview is so the employer can see how well you fit in with the company culture. Put yourself inside the employer’s head and realize that the interviewers at your second interview want to learn how well you will get along with other team members with whom you’ll be interacting with every day. Deploy your very best interpersonal communication skills. Keep in mind the idea of showing your fit — but remember that it’s OK not to fit. If you aren’t a good fit with the employer, you probably wouldn’t be happy working there anyway. And remember, that this interview is also your opportunity to determine whether the company is a good fit for you. Think about whether you would accept if the employer extended an offer. Read more about fit with company culture in our article, Uncovering a Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers.
- Don’t neglect to talk to other people beyond those you are interviewing with. Chatting up — not too excessively — the receptionist and prospective co-workers serves the dual purpose of giving you a better feel for how much you’d like to be part of this workplace culture, as well as making a positive impression on as many people as possible.