Wear Advantage

At no other time is dressing for success more critical than when you are preparing for an interview

ShakehandIn job hunting, the product you are marketing is you; therefore, taking time to ensure that you are dressed appropriately will give you the competitive edge.

When it comes to getting a job, every detail matters - your cover letter, your resume, your skills, how you present yourself and, of course, how you look.

You will want your potential employer to view you as competent and you will want him/her to feel confident you will fit the organisation. It's no secret that how you look has everything to do with the impression you make. First impressions are made within a few seconds after meeting, and in a job interview the impression is made before you get a chance to sell your skills.

You can sure use the first few seconds to your advantage by dressing professionally.

Dress appropriately

The dress code in most organisations is as different as the organisations themselves, so it is impossible to find an outfit that will work well in all interviews. What should you do? Do some investigating and find out how the employees dress and follow their lead, but dress just slightly better.

Wear business-like attire, avoiding flashy colours, bold prints, logos, and keep jewellery to a minimum. Carry a nice attache case or folder to hold your resume and samples of your work.

For women

  • Wear a classic suit, in a solid colour [e.g., blue], or dressy tailored separates. Don't wear short skirts or low-cut blouses
  • Wear a light coloured cotton sari, or salwar kameez. Do not wear too bright colours. Also, avoid too much of make-up, or jewellery
  • Wear pumps [clean and polished]. Leave sandals for leisure
  • Keep your hair neat and professional [unless you are seeking a position in an artistic environment]
  • Wear tan or light hosiery. Never go without hosiery
  • Keep make-up to a minimum
  • Don't chew gum, or have anything else in your mouth.

For men

  • Wear a conservative suit in solid colour
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt in muted colour
  • Even if you never wear ties, wear one for an interview. Remember, this is not a time to wear your "Star Wars" tie!
  • Wear dark socks with clean, polished shoes
  • Your fingernails should be trimmed and clean
  • Keep aftershave to a minimum.

Other things to do

  • Prepare your clothes for the interview the night before and try them on. Don't leave anything to chance
  • Before you leave home check yourself in a full-length mirror to make sure everything is in place
  • Carry yourself with confidence; stand tall with your shoulders back. Portray a successful image by paying attention to details.

When you are prepared for the interview your self-confidence will become apparent. Taking care of how you look will give you one less thing to worry about - you can concentrate on selling your skills.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on interview clothes, but it is important that your clothing fits well. You can get the perfect fit by having your clothing tailored. It's a good idea to have two or three outfits ready to start your new job. Start by buying separates [bottoms and tops] that you can mix and match with pieces you already own.

The interview is the first step in your career. Your advancement is dependent on your behaviour, your skills, your ability to get along with others and your professional image. Paying attention to your wardrobe and appearance will increase your chances of getting the job, promotion and also moving up in the organisation.

Viewing Success

  • Alter your answers. If you're called back for subsequent interviews after the preliminary round, you will face different interviewers. So, find ways to make the same information sound different. Don't describe the same project you managed to all the interviewers. Instead, describe a different project in each of the successive interviews
  • Expect to feel additional stress. You would have very little time to frame your answers unlike during traditional interviews, when the interviewer might take notes before asking another question. But, with several people doing the questioning, you can't have this luxury, because while one person is taking notes, another will fire the next salvo of questions
  • Interviewers too are human. Most understand that you're nervous, and will try to make the experience as comfortable as possible. They're not interested in seeing you squirm. Their job is to determine whether your talents will match with the opening
  • Practice hard. Gather together some friends, siblings, or relatives with different personalities, and have them ask a series of questions without pausing in-between. This should replicate an actual team-interview situation. Ask for feedback on which of your answers impressed the mock interviewers and why
  • Know what to emphasise. List the 10 traits associated with the position you're seeking, and prepare to demonstrate them during the session. Would creativity, presentation, or facilitation skills be important? Ask people who are familiar with the kind of job you're seeking to create short tests that might allow you to illustrate your skills.

Sometimes, what you may consider to be of little consequence may be important to the interviewer. Consider the following factors:

  • Be careful about how much cologne/perfume you wear
  • If you feel that you do have a problem with bad breath, it makes good sense to take a bite of some good quality mouth freshener before the interview. However, do not keep chewing gum/mouth freshener during the interview. This is bad manners
  • You should, of course, dress appropriately for the type of job you are being interviewed for
  • Be punctual. It is better to arrive at the venue before time rather than being late.

- Team CW

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Sheila Dicks
Sheila Dicks is an image and wardrobe consultant. Her motto help people reach their full potential and perk up their self-confidence with improved dress sense. She lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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