We’ve all heard it before: “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. I remember first hearing this at school, around exam time, when I was 11 years old. Now I am twice that age and I would say that I know it to be twice as true.
Preparing correctly for an interview involves a fair few things: doing your research on the company, pre-preparing your answers to the standard interview questions (has anyone ever has an interview where they haven’t been asked where they see themselves in 5 years?). But one thing that far too many people do not spend enough time preparing is what they are going to wear.
The moment you walk through the door into your interview, you only have seven seconds to make a strong first impression. Most of these seconds will be accounted for by a judgement made on appearance. We all say that we don’t do it and we all say that we don’t want it being done to us, but let’s face it: yes, we do. Even if it is not a conscious thing, we absolutely do make judgement, however subtle, based on appearances and one of the prime times that this happens is at job interviews.
It is surprising how many people do not realise how big of an impact the way they present themselves can have. We must remember, in these situations we are essentially marketing ourselves and surely we would want to market something in its best possible light?
You need to have a clear idea of the reaction that you want people to have to you. You can create an entirely different version of yourself through the way that you dress and how you present yourself.
The expectations regarding appearances will vary depending on the workplace and the job role, but when in doubt you should always go for the smarter option rather than the more casual choice. That is not to say that you should turn up in a three-piece suit, but always be mindful of the environment you are going in to. It is always worth checking what the company dress code is before your interview! Your recruitment consultant will know the culture of the company and can advise you on this. Company cultural fit will play a big part on whether you get a yes or a no, and if you can give the impression that you would be a perfect fit before you have even started answering questions, you are automatically off to a good start.
Another thing to remember is that little things go a long way. Make sure your clothes are freshly washed and ironed, your hair, teeth and nails are clean and your shoes are too. Consider your interviewer and be mindful of them. For example, if you are a smoker consider that they might not be and will perhaps not respond well to you walking in smelling of smoke- keep breath mints and spray with you (although similarly, try not to go in amid a haze of perfume/ aftershave fumes as well!).
It is acknowledged that we perform at our best and feel our most confident when we are feeling good about ourselves. We walk taller and speak better when we are feeling confident, and confidence can be easily achieved through the clothes we choose to put on. It is always best to wear something you are comfortable in so that you are not fussing with your outfit mid interview. The more confident we feel, the more relaxed we will be. The more relaxed we are, the more likely it is that this will come across in a positive way to the interviewer, hence the conversation will flow better. Of course, some nerves are a good thing, but let’s have them be about the right things, rather than whether the interviewer has noticed the stain on your tie yet!
- Visualise the person you want your interviewer to meet, and create that image for yourself
- Always be mindful of the company dress code; always dress to impress and be at least one level of attire above the person you meet (e.g. Interviewer = suit, no tie : You = suit & tie)
- Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed the night before; you do not want to rushing to do this on the day itself
- Take personal grooming into consideration (and never for granted)
- Feeling comfortable with the person you are presenting is the key to initial confidence before you start the conversation
- Shoes really matter! A great pair of shoes really make you stand out when you are wearing your best interview attire
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