Your appearance does much to demonstrate to a potential employer your level of professionalism, and your looks can show an interviewer that you are a responsible person who will take their work seriously. Most people know it’s important to look their best and dress the part for a job interview, but how much do looks really matter in an interview?
Chew on the knowledge that a third of bosses questioned in a recent employer survey stated that they make a decision on whether to hire someone for a position in the first 90 seconds of an interview. 90 seconds? That’s just enough time for someone to get a good look at you, shake hands, exchange a few pleasantries and barely begin the interview process. A more startling 65 percent of bosses surveyed stated that an applicant’s clothing could be the deciding factor if two candidates are equally qualified for a job.
When evaluating how you want to look for an upcoming job interview, start by planning to dress conservatively. For women, this means avoiding tight-fitting clothing, low-cut shirts and visible bra straps, as well as making sure that skirts hit the knee. This doesn’t mean women must avoid flattering or attractive cuts; it only means they should avoid a lack of professionalism by flaunting their body. For men, this means setting aside the goofy cartoon tie for a solid-colored, striped or standard-patterned option and their jeans for slacks or a suit. Men should also tuck in their shirt and ensure that their belt, shoes and socks are matching colors. Both men and women should wear clothing that is clean, well-pressed, well-fitting and free of holes, tears or frayed edges.
Well-known job site CareerBuilder.com featured an article listing what not to wear to a job interview. Some of the items listed were obvious, such as micro-mini skirts. Others, however, you might find yourself in on interview day if you’re not careful. For instance, leaving sunglasses on your head or headphones around your neck is a common blunder, the article indicates. Too much makeup, perfume, cologne or aftershave is also a no-no, as is women going without hosiery or wearing more than one set of earrings.
Your looks don’t just involve your clothing, however. How you present yourself is also important. Employers are looking for workers who speak well and demonstrate confidence. Maintaining eye contact with the person interviewing you and refraining from nervous fidgeting is a part of this. Take care not to slouch or to get too cozy by hanging an arm over the back of your chair.
Finally, ask a spouse, friend or family member to look you over before you leave for an interview. A second pair of eyes is always helpful to catch the little things such as lint on your jacket, lipstick on your tooth, or a price tag on your collar. Remember: you will never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
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