The in-person gives you a chance to make a great first impression on your potential employer so how you prepare for it and conduct yourself during the interview is critically important. We’ve talked about your preparation in the section on preparing for telephone and in-person interviews so in this section we are going talk about your physical appearance for the interview, conduct before, during and after the interview and some other tips that will help you make it through your interview.
The selection of the final candidate for a job probably will not hinge on the wardrobe he or she wore to the interview but inappropriate dress can eliminate an otherwise promising first-round candidate. As a graduating college student or someone with limited means you probably cannot go out and buy a new, costly, wardrobe but you should have available some very nice, usually conservative cloths you can confidently wear to an interview.
Men (and women too) should always adopt a conservative mode of dress for any interview. For first interviews it is advisable to wear a suit in a conservative color such as navy or charcoal gray. Generally a long-sleeved white shirt without a button down collar is advisable with a conservative suit.
The tie will be the most colorful accessory you are wearing but even then you should avoid really bright reds, pinks or other “loud” colors. You should also avoid ties that have very busy patterns. A striped tie generally works best…AND the tie must of the type that ties, clip on ties are not acceptable for job interviews.
Your shoes should be a comfortable fitting, black leather shoes with a high shine. If you are wearing a belt or suspenders with your suit they should match your shoes.
As noted for the men above, a conservative mode of dress should also be adopted by women for interviews. Conservatism dictates that a woman wear a business suit with a suitable length skirt (usually just at or slightly above the knee) and a light colored blouse. A conservative navy or grey dress can also be worn to an interview. You may discover during the interview that it’s acceptable for women to wear pants at the company but that’s information you need only after you get the job. Your shoes should also be conservative and match your outfit. It is strongly advised that you do not wear any type of open-toe shoe or one with much of a heel. There would be nothing more embarrassing than falling down during the interview in a pair of four inch heels. A low-rise heel is best for a job interview.
A colorful scarf can be used as an accent feature much like a man’s necktie. However, make sure it isn’t too flashy or has a very busy pattern and that it complements your outfit.
It is important to present yourself at an interview well groomed. Sloppy grooming will be quickly noticed and while it may not be commented on specifically, the interviewer will note it and it could be a strike against your job prospects.
Continuing to follow the conservative model, men should have relatively short hair and if you have a mustache or beard it should be trimmed so as to be neat and not look scraggly. It is not advisable to go to an interview having just had a haircut since the cut ends of your hair will show. The recommendation, if you have the time, is get a haircut approximately two week prior to a big event such as an interview or your wedding in order to allow your hair time to grow out. This time depends on how fast your hair grows so you may have to adjust your schedule accordingly.
Ladies hair should be clean and neatly styled to reflect your personality. You should avoid having highlighted streaks or severe coloring done to your hair prior to your interview as this may not reflect the corporate image where you are interviewing.
For men, finger nails should be cut short and square to the ends of the fingers. Women can have short nails or long nails but either has to be neatly trimmed. Finger nail polish should be a conservative color that matches your colored scarf.
When it comes to wearing jewelry, the best advice is less is more. Men should only have a wedding ring (if applicable) and a class or club ring (i.e. a Masonic ring). Men should not be wearing earrings or visible necklaces. Women should wear conservative earrings and never more than one pair and at maximum a ring on each hand (counting a wedding band). A conservative necklace that is visible can be worn about the neck. Clanking bracelets should be avoided as they will be a distraction during the interview.
Colognes and perfumes should be avoided at all costs since you do not know if the interviewer is allergic to them. It is also best to avoid other things such as soaps, deodorants, lotions and shampoos that have strong odors.
One of the most interesting things to occur over the last ten years is the proliferation of piercings and tattoos on both men and women. Most of the previous generation did not have to piercings or tattoos to worry about when it came time to interview for a job but in the modern age there has been growth in both the number and types of piercings and tattoos and it has caused much debate about the acceptability of piercings and tattoos in the work place. Needless to say it has also raised the specter of piercings and tattoos during job interviews.
While the opinion is not unanimous, most human resource professionals and hiring managers tend to be conservative and say they are likely to reject a candidate who openly displays piercings or tattoos at the interview. It also depends on the field where you are interviewing. Creative fields such as performing arts, television or graphic arts fields are much more tolerant of piercings and tattoos than are more conservative fortune 500 companies, medical offices, banking and accounting firms or attorney’s offices.
Until you know more about the company culture and its dress code, it is advisable to remove visible piercings and cover up all tattoos before going to a job interview. Once at the interview you may observe other employees and see if they are prominently displaying piercings or tattoos or not. If they are not, then you may have a choice to make if you are offered a job with the company as to whether you will conform to the company dress code or decline the job offer.