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DO YOU HAVE
AT JOB INTERVIEWS?
Authored by Ann Baehr, CPRW
Just as real estate agents advise homeowners to dress up the
front of their homes to make a great first impression,
recruiters warn job seekers that hiring managers will judge
them during interviews on many levels, including how they
You wrote your
resume, conducted research on the company, and rehearsed
question-and-answer scenarios for more than a week. You are
extremely prepared. In fact, you even did a dry run to the
company's office building to time your commute.
The day has arrived for the interview. You are feeling
great. You walk into the interviewer's office, shake their
hand and engage yourself in a professional conversation.
Your recruiter would be so proud to see how well you are
handling yourself. They would also cringe if they saw how
you were dressed!
The decision about what to wear is very important, and not
always easy. First impressions are largely based on
appearances. Just as a prospective homebuyer knows that this
is the house of their dreams the moment they pull up to the
curb or walk through the front door, it only takes a few
seconds for a hiring manager to form an opinion about you
before a word is spoken.
The dilemma about what to wear on a job interview ranges
from the color choice to the style of your outfit. The
decision should be based on several factors, such as the
weather and the type of position you are interviewing for.
If the company or position is in a conservative industry
such as finance or education, it is best to dress
conservatively. Dark colors are always safe, but you do not
need to look depressing. Varying shades of gray, blue and
tan are always a safe bet.
If you are a female, it is acceptable to wear pants or a
skirt. It does not need to be a suit, but it should be an
outfit that looks planned. If you choose to wear a skirt,
make sure it is not too short or too tight. Men will get the
wrong idea and women will be judgmental.
For both men and woman, a light colored shirt or tie can add
a bit of interest to an outfit or suit, and is more than
enough. A smart hairstyle, basic jewelry and a clean,
high-quality pair of shoes should finish the look off
If the company is hip and creative, you do not want to look
like a banker unless you are applying for the controller
position. Even though you may opt to wear a patterned shirt
or a purple suede skirt, you still need to have a business
sense about you. You must know where to draw line between
creative and overdone.
If you are really unsure, sit outside the office building to
see what everyone else is wearing. Or, call the receptionist
and explain that you have an interview and would appreciate
any advice on what to wear. For example, should you wear a
jacket, a suit or casual pants?
After that, if you are still unsure, bring a jacket to the
interview. If you see that everyone looks dressed down on a
Monday morning, carry your jacket neatly on your arm for a
more relaxed look.
If you are bringing papers to the interview, such a copies
of your resume, reference letters, and a portfolio or
sampling of your work, use a nice briefcase. Be sure not to
carry it all in your arms. This makes you look sloppy.
Moreover, you risk dropping a pile of papers and looking
clumsy and disorganized.
Be sure not to wear too much perfume or cologne. Do not chew
gum or have candy or mints in your mouth during the
interview. If you smoke, have your last cigarette at least
fifteen minutes before you arrive. Use a lemon wipe on your
hands after you smoke and drink some juice or water, not
coffee, before the interview. It will hydrate you and
minimize the likelihood of having a dry mouth from nerves.
Before stepping out of the car, cab, bus or train, take a
moment to meditate. Close your eyes, relax your breathing,
do some light stretching to release tension, and think
positive thoughts. Visualize yourself meeting everyone and
remind yourself that you are interviewing them, as well. If
you look good and are prepared mentally, you will have a
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About The Author:
Ann Baehr is a CPRW and President of Best Resumes of New York. Notable
credentials include her former role as Second Vice President of NRWA and
contribution to 25+ resume and
sample books. To learn more visit