Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dressing for Success at Interviews

The first and most important advice you will get from this article is to dress your best for all your interviews, regardless of the dress code for the organisation.

For example for a guy, it’s a lot easier to remove your tie or jacket upon invitation from the interviewer, whereas it’s next to impossible to suddenly acquire a jacket or tie. The ideas that follow, come from many years of experience as a senior HR manager and more recently as a consultant with a thriving recruitment and executive search business.

I am frequently appalled by the lack of dress sense, and even courtesy, displayed by some candidates. I wonder how they can possibly expect to be taken seriously. Not so long ago, I interviewed a very well qualified candidate for a senior corporate position in a well known multi-national. I doubt his shoes had ever been polished, nor his ties dry cleaned. When I looked at his grubby finger nails, I determined straight away to close the interview without any further questions. He was taken aback and asked why so short. I told him, or rather, advised him what he needed to do to be taken seriously.

Here's what we advise trainees at our Interviewing Skills course:

♦ Wear a solid colour, conservative suit with a coordinated shirt or blouse, or of course, your country’s national dress if this is appropriate

♦ Wear moderate shoes and make sure they are clean and well polished.

♦ Make sure your hair is well groomed and neat; check your finger-nails, are they clean and tidy?

♦ Don't overdo the perfume, makeup, or after-shave, and use no more than a light fragrance

♦ Limit your jewelry

♦ Make sure to try on your outfit BEFORE the day of the interview if you’ve not worn it for a while. If shoes are new, probably not a good idea to wear, but if you do, make sure the price label is removed from the sole!

♦ Bring a portfolio, or briefcase, pad and pen

1. Your clothes are your image, check the mirror and see what others see, better still ask a trusted friend or family member to advise you
2. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed
3. If it's too tight or too loose - don't wear it!
4. Girls, most male interviewers are NOT impressed (at least not professionally!) with a very short skirt – save it for the disco! That transparent blouse, yes we know the boyfriend likes it, but do you really want to let the (male) interviewer think you’re trying to impress him with your lingerie? You won’t impress, you’ll turn him off, professionally at least.
5. Guys, the medallion might be a hit with “the in-crowd”, but it’ll not impress an interviewer, lose it for the interview. Same goes for loud colours. Even if the tie was a present from Auntie, unless it is relatively conservative, save it for the next visit to Auntie’s house.

At my consultancy ( we have whole training programme on Interview Skills – don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re interested in it being run for your company.

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