Do You Have Appeal At Interviews?

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 look.

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 nicely.

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 competitive edge.

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 cover letter sample books. To learn more visit