Tag Archives: Sharon Parker

Interview Attire, The Sequel

DSC_0082A few days ago we reviewed professional attire for the ladies, now it’s time to shift our attention to the fellas out there:

Men, you do not have as many options as women when they are dressing for an interview.  You really have few choices on how to dress appropriately for an interview. These tips are for you and should be taken seriously if you really want that job.

  • Wear a suit, with tie
  • This includes a long sleeve dress shirt, white in color, or matching the suit you are wearing
  • Dress socks are a must
  • A belt adds to the professional look, even if you do not require wearing one
  • Dress shoes should be polished and shined
  • Hair should be cut neatly
  • Beards and mustaches must be trimmed
  • Nails should be cut short and neat
  • Briefcase, containing your portfolio

Next is a list of what should NOT be worn to an interview and applies to men and women.  If you find that you wear any of these items below, you may want to reconsider how you are dressing for interviews.

  • Jeans, t-shirts, shorts, or cut-offs of any kind
  • Tennis shoes, boots, or flip flops
  • Excessive jewelry, keep it to a minimum
  • Overpowering aftershave, colognes, or perfumes (notice deodorant is not included here)
  • Cell phones are NOT part of dressing for an interview, leave it in the car
  • Do not allow tattoos to show and if you have piercings in places other than your ears, take them out

Common sense rules that you should always apply, even though they are common sense sometimes people just don’t get it.

  • Prepare your outfit the day before
  • Do not go into the interview with chewing gum in your mouth
  • Do not go in carrying a cup of coffee or a bottle of soda
  • DO NOT BRING YOUR CELL PHONE INTO THE INTERVIEW

It would appear that this is a quite a bit of information to remember, but it really is not.  Once you have these basic tips down, the rest will follow.

CC Reflection: Think like a professional, dress like a professional, be a professional.

Meanwhile, as for my niece, she did finally get a job using the tips I had given her on how to dress, it is a starter job, but everyone has to start somewhere and the skills she will learn will help her in her future career.

Penned by
Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection

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

What is your greatest weakness?

DSC_0143Whether you are new to the job seeking field or are a seasoned professional, one interview question will always throw you a curve ball.  The dreaded “what is your greatest weakness?”  This sounds like an easy question, yet most interviewees freeze up as soon as it is asked.  As a general rule, the question is typically asked toward the end of an interview, after you think you’ve nailed it.  Employers do this to see how quick you think on your feet when posed with a question you do not have a ready answer for.

When asked, what is the most effective response?  Below are helpful tips to help you prepare before the interview.

First, research at the company and evaluate their needs.  Using websites such as ONET.Org or TagCrowd.com to gather and prioritize information places you above the competition.  Another great spot to research is the company.  Check the BBB website as well, detailing any complaints.  If there are a few, take a look at the outcomes and how you could cut back on complaints or eliminate them completely.

Additionally, go to your favorite search engine, such as Google, and enter the company name. No doubt you will discover a trove of information about the company.  You can even call the company itself and do an employee survey.  Be careful what you ask, you want facts, not gossip.

Equipped with company research, compile a list of company issues and how you can resolve them.  IF possible, incorporate an issue or two into the greatest weakness question.  True enough, the questions you have may not help you answer the question: “What is your greatest weakness?” but it will give you an advantage when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions.

Then sit and write down what you consider a weakness in the workplace.  Do not look at weakness in your personal life.  Future employers do not want to hear about personal weaknesses.  Keep your personal life separate as much as possible from you professional life.  This will show the employer that you are focused on work, not problems at home.

Think about jobs you have had in the past, what you struggled with and how you coped.  Once you’ve done this, pick the one you think would most benefit the employer (this is where previous company research comes in handy).  Then state it in such a way that your weakness is seen as strength for the company.

For example, one of my biggest weaknesses is that I get too involved in the companies I work for.  I get caught up in the day to day activities and find myself putting in more hours than intended and skipping lunch to keep working.  I take it personal if the company takes a hit for whatever reason, and I look back through my work and those around me and blame myself for missing something.  I have no problem being accountable for work that I’ve done incorrectly, or someone else who may have done something incorrectly as I feel I should have caught any errors before they turned into problems.

Notice in the above example how what I considered a weakness can be turned around to become an employer’s benefit.  The interviewer will be thinking that I am very involved with work, care about the company, and be willing to do what needs to be done, even making sacrifices in my personal life to be there for the team.  This would not be an erroneous assumption, it would be true and that is the key to comfortably answering the question.

CC Connection Tip of the Day: Stick to the truth, you won’t trip yourself up trying to lie; lying is not the way to get yourself employed.

Once you have determined how best to answer this question, you need to practice.  Practice with a friend, relative, or in front of a mirror and edit to best reflect the value you offer.  Watch facial expressions while practicing in the mirror; do you look scared or confident?  Do you have no expression at all?  How is your posture; slumped or straight and tall?  It is not just the words that have an impact on your answers; your body language speaks much louder than words.

Reword the answer so that if you do have a sudden attack of the “uuummms,” you can fall back on an abbreviated answer.  Ask for honest feedback if you practice with someone, and record yourself while practicing.  Play back the first recording to yourself and do an objective self-evaluation by asking yourself three questions:

  • Did your voice shake or vibrate when answering?
  • Did you have good tone and inflection?
  • Does it sound as if you’ve been rehearsing?

If you answer yes or no as appropriate to these questions, keep practicing.  Also have someone else listen to your response.  Be sure it is someone who is going to be honest and not afraid to hurt your feelings.  Have them evaluate you based on the same three questions.  It is best to have a second opinion, one that won’t be biased.  Truth is, we are always more critical of ourselves then others.  “Practice makes perfect,” as the expression goes. In this case, it is all too true.

Here’s a warning: You do not want your answer to sound practiced, so practice until you are comfortable with the answer, confident and contemplative.

When asked, don’t panic. Instead, take 2-3 seconds before answering. A slight pause gives the employer the impression you are seriously thinking about how to answer.

The best advice is to do your research.  I sound repetitive but I cannot stress enough how proper research helps you prepare for an interview even if questions are asked that you didn’t prepare for.

When it comes to the interview process, knowledge is everything. The more you know about the company, the better armed you are for the interview.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know.

Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection