Dress for Success
One of my favorite stories is of the man who went into the car dealership in tattered old overalls and muddy boots. All of the slick salesmen snickered and ignored him. A young man who had just started working there went out to greet and wait on the man who looked like he had just come in from a hard day in the fields. From a pocket in his coveralls came a roll of bills that paid for a brand new car, a birthday present for the older man's wife. The next week he returned to purchase cars for his children. . . again in cash. For some strange reason, he would only buy from the young man who had first waited on him.
I do not know if you have had the opportunity to see people react to you in different ways because of your attire. Sure, we d all like to think that we re being judged on our qualifications, skills, and depth of character. However, the truth is in most cases, that while clothes may not make the person, they are a major factor in the first impression people form. In addition, your clothes have a great impact on the way you feel about yourself. To think any other way is to ignore reality.
When it comes to a first impression - Perception is Reality. Understanding the appropriate business attire for an interview and recognizing how nonverbal communication affects your professional image are just two factors that can impact your success. Your appearance when you arrive for your interview should state very clearly that this meeting is important to you and that you have taken the time and made the effort to prepare for it.
My recommendation is and will remain that candidates dress for a site visit in a well-tailored dark suit with a plain long sleeve white or light colored shirt/blouse, minimal jewelry, no perfume or cologne. Hair should be neat and orderly. Shoes should have a closed toe, be in good repair, and be well shined.
To add some other detail to these recommendations:
Of all the individuals we interviewed, you were chosen to be presented. Of all the candidates that were presented from every source, you were chosen to be interviewed. When you walk into the site visit, your appearance, your mannerisms should radiate that you are THE ONE.
- For men, make sure the pant cuff falls lightly over your shoes. For women, make sure that the hem of the suit skirt is no more than two inches above the knee, and that your shirt/blouse is buttoned all the way up. This is not the proper venue to flaunt the latest wild fashion trend, you are not going out on a date!
- For men, do make sure that your tie is tasteful and be sure it is straight. Do not wear ties with large prints, cartoon characters, religious, political, or holiday motifs. For women, do not wear loudly patterned scarves etc. that distract from your outfit.
- Don't wear political or religious emblems, pins, buttons, etc. Your potential employer might not share your particular affiliations and you may be immediately eliminated from the candidate pool before you can even make the case about your suitability for the job.
- Keep jewelry to a minimum. For men, don't wear anything more than a simple watch, cuff links, and wedding band. Take out any earrings or nose ring/eyebrow ring and/or tongue piercings. There are still hiring officials who do not like the idea of a man wearing an earring and it could affect you in the interview process. The problem is that you will not know that that was the reason why you did not get that job. If you want to remove the barriers, remove the earring. For women, simple earrings, a wedding band/engagement ring, simple pin, necklace, or bracelet, and basic watch are appropriate. Don't wear multiple rings, earrings, or bracelets, and again take out any nose ring/eyebrow rings and/or tongue piercings.
- Pay close attention to personal hygiene. Make sure that you use a good deodorant. If you feel you must wear a nice-smelling cologne, aftershave, or perfume - make sure that it is not overpowering, as strong scents are a huge turnoff. Make sure that nails are well manicured and that hands are well moisturized and not flaking, peeling, or callused. For women, go easy on the makeup. Avoid bright lipsticks and eye shadows.
- Hair should be neatly cut and professionally styled. For men, if you must have long hair make sure that it is neatly pulled back into a ponytail. Beards and mustaches should be shaped up, neatly trimmed and no rubber bands and seashells and all that stuff hanging. For both men and women, avoid elaborate hair dos, buzz cuts, two-tone, or wildly-colored hair, etc.. Corn rows have become more and more popular. If you wish to wear your hair in this manner, be sure they are neat and freshly done.
- Do wear well-polished, non-scuffed, leather shoes in black or brown. For women the shoes should have a flat or medium-sized heel. Pantyhose should not have any runs or snags and should be neutral. Avoid designs and textures.
- Take a briefcase (preferably leather), planner, or folder that contains your resume/questions/notes etc. Include your name, your list of references, and paper/pen to be able to take notes.
- Smile and naturally connect those smiles to appropriate movements and gestures. You'll radiate a positive attitude.