Preparing for that interview includes researching the company, re-visiting the job description and person specifications, making sure you are up to date with the detail of the job concerned and have a good feel for the most likely questions you are going to be asked. As important as all of these factors are, they are for when you are sitting face-to-face with the interviewing panel. This stage has by-passed perhaps the most important point of the interview process.
The first 90 seconds…
If you were to ask a seasoned interviewer when they decide the candidate is right for the job you are likely to get a surprise. Surveys tend to show that the most important time that an interviewer will consciously or subconsciously decide whether any candidate are worth considering, is in the first 90 seconds of the interview. That is the specific time that you walk through the door, sit down, say your hello’s and get settled. So what are interviewers responding too?
As much as the interview questions are of paramount importance, we are all looking to make honest human connections – and interviewers – even though they may seem like scary monsters at times – are no different. Your presentation and how you behave when you interact with them, gives them the most honest impression of who you are and your attitude to work that they could hope for. Therefore, when preparing for your interview, how you dress should not be an after-thought, but top of your list.
Formal or informal?
In this day and age, when you can wear what you want to work and suits and formal dress have very much taken a back seat, it is often difficult to know what is the best dress to wear to reflect your work ethic and attitude to the job. If you have visited the place of work you may seen people dressing very casually in the kind of work you will be doing. So if you wear a suit are you likely to look a bit stuffy and dated? The fact is, you can never go wrong with looking smart. A suit and a tie for a man or more formal dress for a woman shows you have gone to the trouble of presenting yourself in an acceptable way. It gives the impression that you are organised and professional and don’t readily blur the boundaries between work life and social life.
At the same time for more creative or customer-centered jobs you may want to reflect an element of yourself that shows your imagination or your approachability. This can be done by wearing casual or semi-casual wear – but be careful – your true reason for dressing in such a manner may be lost to the people asking the questions. You may just look slovenly, uninterested and de-motivated. If you know the company, or the people who will be interviewing you, then this is the time to take these kind of risks.
Keep to the job in hand with interview dress code
As a broad guideline – don’t wear anything that is not to do with the interview or the job you are going for. For instance, you may well have a great little back dress that you look great in when you go out dancing – but it has it’s place. That very low-cut dress can be distracting and it can be sending out other unwanted messages that get in the way of the professional persona you wish to portray. Guys, go easy on the aftershave and ladies hold back with the perfume. Again, they have their place and excess can confuse the simple messages you are trying to put across. For women again, too much make-up can prevent your listeners from seeing the real you. Be natural and try to keep the amount you use to a minimum.
Actual clothes styles can be very telling. If you are wearing clothes that are not in fashion anymore (i.e. wide lapels, salmon ties, flowery dresses) then you could give the impression that you are not in touch with what is trending and cutting edge. This doesn’t mean you have got to wear the latest fashions, but don’t wear clothes that belong to another era (i.e that suit that has been in the wardrobe for the past 10 years).
Don’t go way out
Although being in style is important, traditional always trumps way-out. You may want to impress people with your quirky humour by wearing that weird tie you got for Xmas – don’t. As stated before, it is important what you wear is about the job in hand. Any quirky or endearing sides of your character will come out in the interview no doubt. Whatever you wear – think professional and polished. You will put them firmly on your side as you walk through the door.
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