Posted by Brian McCullough
In my interview post earlier in the week, I mentioned counseling people about what to wear to a job interview. Then I ran across this post on CareerJournal.com (via this post on Snakes and Ladders) which solicited feedback from readers regarding interview attire. I encourage you to read the both articles in their entirety, but I’m going to use this opportunity do a quick summation of the articles here, and throw in some of my own thoughts and commentary about interviews and best impressions.
Keep Your Car Neat?
I myself had never considered this before (maybe because the inside of my car is a disaster zone) but it does make sense. Someone interviewing for a position requiring organization skills and attention to detail might not want to show up for an interview in car full of 3 years of discarded newspapers and stratified layers of long-forgotten coffee cups and soda cans. You are how you organize yourself… in all aspects of your life, not just your dress.
Women Should Dress According To How They Want To Be Perceived
As the article points out, “…women lack a clear executive uniform — which means they have more rope with which to hang themselves.” Women should take time to carefully consider the image their clothing will project on a first impression. It’s a fine line that can change from situation to situation. What might be “professional attire” in one office, might be consider dowdy (read: old) in another.
Don’t Try To Buck Office Culture… In Either Direction
Here’s an excellent thought:
Dressing to fit in with an office’s individual character shows respect and commitment. At one Des Moines, Iowa, insurance-industry company, the president asks job candidates to interview in business-casual clothes because that’s how the office operates. Regularly, candidates show up in suits. “If he can’t follow the simplest instructions about how to dress, I certainly don’t need him on my staff,” is the executive’s response, according to a staff member who wrote me.
Twenty-Somethings Can Be Problematic
Maybe it’s because their business role-models stay in shorts and sandals (I’m talking to you, Mark Zuckerberg). I’ll never forget the first time I had to talk a recent college grad out of hand-delivering a resume in flip-flops. I thought, “Boy, that’s one for the record books.” Since then, I’ve had to make similar interventions half a dozen times. I think the bare minimum anyone should settle for when interviewing a twenty-something is khaki pants and a collared shirt. Basically, the old Banana Republic uniform.
Any Haircut Can Cut It, As Long As It’s Clean
I think the days of long haired hippie people being unable to apply are long gone. At least I hope they are. The color of hair amongst your average Starbucks barista crew can run the rainbow gamut. I think, depending on the work environment (pink mohawks might not cut it in the funeral home business) any reasonable hairstyle should be tolerated so long as it’s neatly and consistently kept up. There’s a difference between pig-pen hair and the oh-so-carefully gelled and coiffed mussed up hair that looks thrown-together but is actually likely the result of hours of careful primping (now I’m talking to you, Kevin Rose).
Avoid wearing a new suit.
This is actually a well-known old-school tip. You want a suit that looks expensive, but not one that looks right off the rack. You want to give the impression that you wear this suit every day and you’re comfortable in it. If it looks like you borrowed it for the day, then you’re making the wrong impression.
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