Tag Archives: Career Tips

Interview Attire: Looking the Part

DSC_0057In a world where your first impression is now your resume and the second impression is when a potential employer meets you for the first time, it is important to dress appropriately for an interview.

CC Reflection: Going to an interview is tough enough without having to worry about how you look.

Recently I have been trying to teach my niece, who is new to the working world, how to dress when going in to ask for an application and if extremely lucky, an on-the-spot interview.  My niece thinks the more skin she shows the better her chances are of getting hired.  This strategy did work for her when she filled out an application at a certain fast food restaurant; she was even hired until they noticed her actual date of birth.  Apparently you have to be 18 and because of the way she was dressed and her build they thought she was older than she was.  I sat her down and gave her some tips on how she should dress and what she should NOT wear.  I’m going to share these tips with you so you can be better prepared to dress for your interview.

How you dress for an interview communicates to an interviewer how you will dress coming to work (if not wearing a uniform), how seriously you take the interview, and your respect for the company.  No matter the type of job you are interviewing for, always dress up for the interview.  This is YOUR first personal impression to an interviewer.  Your resume got you the interview; therefore how you dress for the interview can very well get you the job or cause you to lose it.

First we will start with basic tips for men and women alike.

  • ALWAYS bathe before an interview
  • Use deodorant
  • Brush your teeth
  • Groom your hair
  • Wear appropriate undergarments

The above tips seem simple and everyone should know this, but you would be surprised how many times I have seen people come in for an interview and have done none of the above.  Even if applying for a manual labor job, always follow the above tips.  If you stink at the interview, they are not going to want you to stink up the office or warehouse or even the company truck.

For women there are more guidelines that should be followed than there are for men, which is why we are leaving the men for last.  These tips will dress you from head to foot with confidence that you look professional and ready to take on any challenge.

  • A suit with a matching jacket would be the best thing you can wear
  • Dresses should NOT come any higher than half an inch above the knee, and half an inch below the knee
  • If wearing a skirt or dress, panty hose is recommended
  • Slips should be worn underneath dresses or skirts
  • Slacks should be pressed and ironed with the crease in the middle
  • Slacks should be the correct length for you, not dragging on the floor or waiting for high tide
  • Stockings or pantyhose are still recommended, even if wearing slacks
  • A blouse or shirt that is NOT cut low, accompanied with a jacket, preferably one that you can button
  • Closed toe shoes with a low heel
  • Your hair should be pulled back, away from your face and neat
  • Keep nails trimmed and clean
  • Always try on the outfit the day before to be sure it fits well, you do not want to be bursting out at the seams
  • Bring your portfolio, that will complete your professional look

We’ve concentrated on female dress and now will take a break before heading into what you guys out there need to know. Our next read will be published in a few days. Until then, keep your shoes shined and never forget one of the most important first impression cues: your smile.

Penned by Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection

Career Breakout: Interview Preparation

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

In response to today’s question, Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, will be taking control.

“I’ll be graduating in May and looking for a job. I have an interview scheduled but have no ideas on what to do besides show up with resume in hand. What do you recommend I do to prepare for an interview?”

Interviews are crucial to snagging the job you want. If your professional documents have made it past the initial HR screening and on to the desk of a hiring manager, feel confident that you’re being seriously considered for the job. Congratulations on having an interview scheduled!

However, recognize that it’s rare for a company to interview only one person for a position. Therefore, it’s essential that you put your best foot forward and make a good impression on the interviewer as well as on anyone you come in contact with as you make your way to and from the interview. You never know who’s a friend of whom or what tactics an employer might be using to evaluate all aspects of a future employee’s “fit” in a new company.

Career Tip #1: The individual you think is “just the receptionist” in fact might be a very important voice in the office whose opinion is respected, so being rude or disrespectful, or underestimating the value of such individuals can mark you as unprofessional and can even lead to your eventually not getting the position.

A few companies actually resort to creative ways to evaluate the tendencies of future employees and whether or not they’re a good “fit” for the company. It’s been reported that some companies even monitor what magazines you pick up off a coffee table as you wait in the lobby for an interview. Do you go for light reading? Are you attracted to business journals or company brochures? Are you pleasant to those around you? Do you make eye contact and seem poised and confident?

In today’s job market there more qualified people for every position than ever before and competition is stiff, but at least you can be confident that you’ve put your best foot forward and done nothing to hamper your chances. You may even find that you end up in the future with an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Career Tip #2: A great strategy is to see every moment you’re in the vicinity of a potential employer as an opportunity to learn, to make contacts, and to make a good impression. If you adopt this as you’re attitude, you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the position, of course.

Okay, we’ve ventured slightly off the path to disclose hints about “how to be” when you show up for the interview, yet you asked specifically about “how to prepare” for the interview and what to take with you. Time to get back on track…

First, here are several steps which, taken together, can help you prepare for the interview:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know where you fit and why
  3. Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them

Let’s take a look at number one, “Do your homework.”

Given an interview has been scheduled, it is safe to claim that you know the name of the company you’re interviewing with and you may even know the specific position for which you’re interviewing. Now what you need to do is to learn as much as you can about the company itself as possible.

Companies, like people, have “values” and “culture.” If you’re a fan of Thirty Rock or The Office, you already know this. These shows, of course, are exaggerations of a kind of company culture taken to the extreme to get a laugh from the audience, but they still point to an important fact: companies and the people who work in them, together create a kind of culture shaped by what the company values and its work environment.

Career Tip #3: Companies have, in effect, “personalities.”

As you head into an interview, ask yourself:

  • What kind of company is this?
  • What sort of personality does this company have?
  • What does it make?
  • What does it value?
  • What kind of culture does it support and create for its employees?

Trying to find the answers to questions like these by researching the company website, studying any materials its published about itself in ads, in brochures, and on the web, as well as reading about the company at the Better Business Bureau, or if its big enough, in past articles (on the web or at your local library) of The Wall Street Journal, Business Weekly, or Fortune is an essential part of preparing for an interview.

This looks like the perfect lead for a break. Join me in a couple days as we complete number one and journey to numbers two and three.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS