This series was inspired from my seven years experience listening to the good, the bad and the truly hideous interview. About half the applicants I turn away could have done the job and done it well. This guide will lead qualified candidates to avoiding major pitfalls in how they are presenting themselves during the interview process.
If you missed it, here is:
Dress For the Job you want, not the job you are Applying for. Cliche but true! When I see someone in ripped jeans or a mussed t shirt, all I can think is that they didn't really care about this job.
The price of admission are clean khakis and a polo or button up shirt. I won't be impressed with this outfit. I won't think of fast tracking you. You will merely be an acceptable.
I write down what kind of effort the applicant put into their appearance on the application. Effort counts a lot. Remember even if this is “just a job” for you, the interviewer and hiring manager think of this as a career. They really care and they don't want to hire you if you don't match their intensity.
- Wear dress pants or a knee length professional skirt/dress.
- Suit or sports jacket is preferred
- All apparel should be clean and in good condition. No buttons missing, no hems hanging, no frayed cuffs, no holes.
- All apparel should be well fitting. Not too large or too tight. Too long or too short.
- Shoes clean and no athletic shoes or sandals especially flip flops
This outfit will make your interviewer happy and start you on the right foot. The EXCEPTION: high end dining, entertainment, and hospitality demands higher standards of dress. You're going to have to be comfortable rocking a full suit to dress at one level above the job you're applying for.
Once the outfit is in place here are some additional grooming points everyone should be aware of.
For Men: I want to see a button up shirt and tie. This is preferred just not by me but most hiring managers.
- Traditional plaids, even though the shirt technically buttons up, are NOT acceptable. Gingham, gentle plaid, and windowpane are all styles that hold some similarities to traditional flannel plaid, but may be appropriate for an interview with the correct accents. Please check out this guide if you need examples of the pattern styles
- Some people are going to tell you ties are optional: they aren't. If I expect women to pick out appropriate jewelry and make up you better be 100% certain I'm looking for ties on men! I'm not alone here, most of the male managers I've worked with want ties, and while we hire people without ties, every owner or manager I've worked for Notices and Laments over a lack of tie.
- I've seen some awesome bow ties recently, and I love how neat and stylish it's made candidates appear. If you want to stand out a little and your outfit allows, a bow tie could be just the thing. Some hiring managers may be put off by this so it is a risk.
For the Ladies:
- Wear a blouse or button up shirt.
- Avoid showing cleavage
- Don't let your bra show
- Don't wear anything too sheer,
- DO NOT go sleeveless without a jacket.
- Absolutely no mid-drift.
- If needed discreetly pin closed any gaps that may show your bra
- A suit jacket is a positive addition with a dress although a simple cardigan can complete an interview outfit.
Take it from the Top: Faces and Hands Are KEY.
Neat Hair: Your hair should be neat. The messy bed head look is a style, but we can tell if there's gel in your hair and it's intentional or if you're just too lazy to put some water on it to flatten it. If you have long hair please take the time to style it. Wash it, pull it back, or take the time and product to make it look nice when it's down. I can promise you won't work a service area I'm in if your hair is a greasy mess when you come to interview.
Please, no messy buns. Natural hair might be best if you pull it back into a neat pony tail )prevents weather from effecting your hair before an interview) or spray the fly aways down. Curly haired ladies: you have a choice to either flatten you hair or really refine the curls for the interview. In very conservative interviews curly hair is a risk. I have had hiring managers ask me “you accepted her/him with hair like that?!” when it was perfectly styled because they just don't get how curly hair works. Consider very carefully the kind of place you're interviewing for, how often you may be in the public eye, and if you can go to the physical building and see how other employees look. Remember, they have the job and can look less than perfect, but there may still be one or two uniform preferred looks. Not matter what type of hair you have it should be neatly and conservatively styled.
Men with LONG Hair: Do not wear it down. If you have shoulder length hair pull it back in a neat ponytail or bun for the interview.
Be Rested: Get a good night's sleep before the interview if you can. I don't let bags under the eyes or a haggard look count against a person, but it doesn't really help either. Likewise: take care of your teeth. Again I've hired folks with dental problems, but I know a lot of people find this a turn off.
Tattoos: Know both corporate and Franchise policy on tattoos! If ink is not allowed, go on and cover it up before the interview. If you need make up, bandaids, or clothing with sleeves, wear it. It's better for the hiring manager never be aware of a tattoo, as they will start to discount you as soon as they know it could be a problem.
Groomed Nails and Hands: Your hands should also be clean and nails should be short and of even length. Applicants whose pinkie and ring finger nails are a lot longer than the rest of their nails suggests either a drug habit or a lack of attention to detail. I don't want either in my work force. Beware if you are applying for a job in food service Federal Government regulations require clean unpolished nails. No artificial nails at all. Wearing them to an interview is fine, but you will be asked if you are prepared to remove them before any hiring process can move forward.
Clean faces: Make sure your face is clean.
For Men, if you have facial hair make sure it's trimmed and neat. Clean shaven gentlemen: please make sure you have a fresh shave. Some jobs will require you to be clean shaven. While it's easier to maintain food safety with a fresh shave, it's usually a styl-istic choice on the part of management. The hiring manager will inform you at the interview and want a positive response so be ready.
For Women: Your face should be clean and neat. You should wear light make up. It's safest to go with neutral natural highlights. Remember you want the interviewer to see you not your makeup. Now is not the time to experiment with a new cosmetics.
Additionally for Women: Jewelry should be simple. If you wear earrings studs are best but small dangles are also acceptable. Likewise, only wear discreet necklaces. Make sure your necklace doesn't fight with your neckline. It should fall either well about the neckline and settle closely around the neck, or well below the neckline and showcase the shirt.
For Men Jewelry should be limited to a watch and a ring. Bracelets, chains, and earrings are not appropriate for most interviews.
So now you look like the perfect hire! Next time, we'll start discussing how to put your strengths forward in a way that will carry the most meaning to your interviewer.
Let Me Know:
-Anything you felt I missed or glossed over?
-Was my advice helpful?
-Do you have further questions or concerns?
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See the next Part of this series: Questions An Interviewer Should Not Ask