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Monday, 7 December 2015

How To Dress For Your Next Job Interview

Once upon a time, almost everyone wore business suits to job interviews.

“If you watch old television shows and movies from the 1950s, men wore suits and ties and women wore nice dresses pretty much everywhere,” says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp. “However, over the years, our society has become less conservative when it comes to dress code. Certain industries still require dressing conservatively but others have a more collegiate atmosphere and it’s not unusual to find employees wearing shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops to work. You probably don’t need to wear a suit and tie to a job interview at a laid back company, but that doesn’t mean you should dress too casually, either.”

What you wear to your next job interview might be more important than you think. Why? Whether you like it or not, your appearance is the first thing people notice about you–and first impressions are usually formed within the first 30 seconds, says Brenda Ferguson Hodges, a California-based image consultant and career coach. “Appearance affects hiring decisions and plays a major role. Hiring managers need to be able to visualize you in that position they are trying to fill.”

Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert and best-selling author, agrees. “On a job interview, your attire makes a statement about yourself before you even open your mouth,” she says. “A scuffed shoe, a messy bag, or a low cut shirt can speak volumes. You need to wear your ‘power outfit.’ Have a favorite skirt that always makes you feel great when you wear it? Why not pair that with a blazer? It’s okay to show off your personality through your clothes, as long as you aren’t wearing a lime green mini skirt. Stick to business-professional looks.”

Teach says that many, if not most hiring managers believe that people who dress appropriately for a job interview are more likely to be successful because they look the part. Conversely, those who dress inappropriately–too informal, for example–may be seen as having a more casual attitude toward work and authority, as well as possessing a lack of understanding of business etiquette. “It doesn’t matter if this is true or not; what matters is that this is the perception of many hiring managers. Make no mistake–you are being judged as soon as you walk into the room and the interviewer has made an initial impression of you in the first few seconds they see you based on how you look. That may not be fair but it is reality in many cases. An interviewer is expecting you to dress appropriately for the interview. If not, you are showing the interviewer that you don’t understand the basics of what it takes to be successful in the workplace. If this is the case, you already have one strike against you.”
Your appearance not only shows that you’re taking the opportunity seriously, that you are eager to make a good impression, and that you’d fit in nicely within the corporate culture; it can also communicate that you have respect for the interviewer, says Mark Strong, a life, career and executive coach based in New York.

Strong says about 80% of job candidates get it right; 20% don’t. “Some dress on the dumpy or casual side, while others are too made up.”

Other common mistakes: Skirts that are too short or tight, too much cleavage, scuffed shoes, excessive perfume or makeup, “or looking like you walked off the set of Working Girl circa 1985,” Williams says. “The most important thing you bring to an interview is confidence. What you wear and how you wear it helps convey that. If you aren’t comfortable in your outfit – that will come across in an interview.”

Ferguson Hodges says for many people, their “dress for success” training started with their parents, “but now, due to the state of the economy, people are so busy and are crunched to find a job, that they are not taking the time to get trained on the appropriate dress for interviewing.”
Why else might they fail to dress appropriately? Lack of interviewing experience, lack of knowledge, lack of common sense, and lack of research, Teach says. “But there really is no excuse for not dressing appropriately for a job interview.”

Another reason a job candidate might have difficulty determining what’s appropriate: The days of the “interview uniform” are over, Williams says. As Teach mentioned earlier, a suit isn’t always the right thing to wear anymore.

“The workplace has changed in leaps and bounds in the last 15 years,” she says. “Start-ups and tech companies have embraced a much more casual approach to what is appropriate at the office. It’s imperative to check out the office attire prior to showing up for the interview. It’s another bit of research that you can arm yourself with to give you an edge. If everyone at the office is wearing shorts and a T-Shirt and you arrive in a three-piece dark suit, you’ll be out of place and won’t fit in. Half the battle in interviewing is proving that you belong and can be part of the team.”

Strong says if you’re interviewing at company with a most casual dress code, dress as if you were going to a dinner party on a Saturday night. “When in doubt, bring a jacket and carry it with you. You can throw it on to formalize and leave it off to be more casual.”

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