By Maria Akl
Two applicants have similar resumes and credentials. One gets the job over the other, and let’s just say your offer letter isn’t coming anytime soon. What gives? For starters, maybe your clothes weren’t pressed, your shoes weren’t shined or your perfume offended the interviewer. Sound trivial?
According to Barbara Glass, image and wardrobe consultant and fashion editor for Chicago’s NBC 5 News, it’s all in the details. “Why does everyone want to unwrap the present that’s the most attractive during the holidays? Believe me, they’ll pick that one first,” Glass says. “It’s how you wrap yourself.” A candidate’s appearance can make or break a decision to extend an offer.
Most people don’t have a clue that small details can affect the way an interview goes. You need to package yourself appropriately. “The idea here is to keep the focus on you, not what you’re wearing,” Glass explains. “It’s about blending in with the culture you’re interviewing for, not setting trends. Impress the interviewer with your ability, not with your clothing.”
Glass shares 12 crucial tips to keep in mind when dressing for the interview.
- Avoid trends. Stick to classic looks. “You’re not on a runway,” she says. “If you want to walk around with funky outfits and pierced body parts… fine, go into advertising! But if you want to be in an executive role, it’s not going to fly.”
- Suit up. Invest in one good suit. Keep it neutral — black, navy or grays always work. “When you’re Donald Trump, you can wear pink. When you’re the CEO, you can wear whatever you want. Until then, follow what the culture does.” A simple white or blue shirt under your suit is appropriate.
- Your clothes need to be tailored to fit. Don’t wear short skirts or roll up your hems! “If you have to think about it, don’t wear it. Go with your instincts.”
- Don’t be a distraction. Keep the noise level down. Avoid bangles that clank, backless shoes that clunk or earrings that dangle. “Pearls may sound boring, but there is a reason they still sell at Tiffany’s.”
- You’re not a billboard. Steer clear of logos; you never know who you’re going to offend. “Stay away from symbols, initials or pictures.”
- Consider your coif. Groomed, healthy hair is important. “Anyone dealing with money, keep your hair off your face in a knot or French twist. The point is, when you are talking to someone and dealing with money, people want you to look serious. You can wear your hair down in the evening.”
- Get a manicure. Nails should be clean and clear, at a reasonable length. “I’m shocked at the number of women I see wearing nail polish. Red is a no-no.”
- Be natural, or at least fake it. Keep makeup minimal. No heavy mascara or eyeshadow. Neutral lipstick is fine.
- Have a signature. Anchor yourself with one accessory to express your identity. “Wear something that gives you stability or character. A vintage watch is a great piece.”
- No heavy perfume! It’s offensive to the interviewer and you never know what allergies they may have.
- Arrive 15 minutes early Before the appointment, check yourself out in the bathroom. “Make sure you didn’t get splashed from a cab going by, have a run in your nylons or food in your teeth. It will also give you a chance to relax.”
- Have a good attitude. “People forget to smile. No one wants to work with people who are unpleasant. This is as elementary as shaking someone’s hand firmly or looking them in the eyes when you speak. They may be old rules, but they sure haven’t changed for most people!”
Maria Akl is a producer/story editor who has worked on television shows including “Ambush Makeover,” “Starting Over” and “FOX News Chicago.” She has been a contributor to several national publications such as Profile magazine, Animal Fair and Associated Content. Her Web site is http://mariaakl.actorsite.com.
Good Luck with your Career Search– “Always remember, be prepared you only get one chance to make a first impression.”