Dressing for an interview ; Don’t shoot yourself on the leg!

First impressions are critical. While this may seem obvious enough, but few of us appreciate the fact that these impressions kick-start the complex but yet inevitable process of judgment. Before you utter the first words, your outward appearance has long begun the speaking. When it comes to dressing for an interview, unless it is the very first one, most of us have an idea of how we should dress … but God knows what happens when we actually leave the house for the interview. Nevertheless, here are a few insights on how to dress for an interview:

First, the position or the industry in which you are interviewing for should form the basis of whatever apparel you don. Note that interviews for some professions or job positions, especially those that touch on customer contact points in an organization, will normally subject your attire to more rigorous and intense judging than others. A marketing executive and a telemarketer for instance. If unsure of the dress code for the job, you can pay the company a visit or check out their human resource policy.

A dark suit with solid colors will usually suffice for most corporate job interviews. Multi-colored, highly decorated, flowery, or shinny apparel will cause more of distraction than attraction. And don’t even think of bringing your fancy checked suit or your chinos to a corporate job interview – unless you are interviewing for the position of ‘resident clown’.

Showing a lot of skin [especially for the ladies] will only set you up for the predators – and there are always a bunch of them in most offices. If you are not interviewing for a sales job on playboy magazine, there is usually no need to be sexy as this may be a turn off. This goes for the boys as well; attempting to get that mean or nasty look could out rightly disqualify you. Unless of course Tony Soprano is in the interviewing panel. This means you’ve got to lose the studs and earrings … and cover up the ‘nishikigoi dragon’ tattoo [and that goes for the one with your mother’s name as well]. The bling blings will be a turn off for most corporate jobs, therefore, it is better to forgo them. While we are on this subject, cheap jewelry creates a worse impression.

Go easy on the scents. Not everyone will appreciate your DKNY or Giorgio Armani perfume; certainly not if you splash half the bottle on yourself. If you are too unlucky, one of the panelists could be allergic to that scent! Now, we don’t want to put the interviewers in a tricky of having to chose between you and the poor guy. That goes for the after-shave as well. Apply light make-up and a well groomed hairstyle. Changes in fashion rarely affect corporate wear and appearance. So, don’t feel any pressure to ‘get with it’. In short, forget about the spiked hair and the mo-hawk (did I spell that right?).

Cell phones, I-pods, I-pads, and other gizmos are a no-no for job interviews. Since they form part of your appearance, these items will certainly have something to say about you, usually not so positive.

Remember, only in extremely rare circumstances (and I’m yet to see them) will a job opening be available only to you. There will always be hundreds if not thousands of applications for that same job – especially in these hard economic times. If you get shortlisted and invited for an interview, don’t let the panel and yourself down by ruining the first impression; your dressing.

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