Dressing For Interview Success
"Dressing For Interview Success
Even though John T. Molloy begins his classic Dress For Success by proclaiming, "the first rule of dress is common sense;" not everybody has common sense about what to wear. In fact, many job seekers unknowingly dress for failure. They do so because they make one or more of the four following mistakes:
1) They let their significant other choose their clothing,
2) they let their favorite sales clerk choose their clothing,
3) they let designers and fashion consultants choose their clothing, or
4) they let their background choose their clothing.
For some people, avoiding these mistakes, and possessing an ability to dress for an interview comes naturally. For others - those who are not totally convinced that appearance counts - it takes a concerted effort. What I have attempted to do is pack a tremendous amount of information into a small amount of space, by listing a few simple rules designed to add authority to the way you look when the time comes for that big interview.
Wear dark colors - When the Wall Street Journal surveyed 351 Chief Executive Officers for their preferred suit color, no one was surprised that 53% of the respondents favored blue, dark blue, or navy blue, and 39% opted for gray, charcoal, or dark gray. For both men and women, dark suits spell formality, conservatism, and authority. Dark ties, too, contribute to the image. (Throw out all those yellow and red ties that were considered such a strong power look in the middle 1980's). Men, keep in mind that the tie is probably the single most important denominator of respectability and responsibility for a man in the United States, so do not short change yourself here, and make sure the geometric patterns on any of your ties are minuscule, also stay away from bowties. Do not extend this dark-is-beautiful look to shirts. The general rule is that the darker the color of suit and tie, the lighter the color of the shirt. (White was the preferred color of 53% of the CEOs surveyed by the Wall Street Journal and blue came in second with 35%.)
Don't wear short sleeves - If you intend to take anything I have said in this article at all seriously, note the following: You will never, ever, as long as you live, wear a short sleeve shirt for any job interview, or for any business purpose! Wearing a short sleeve shirt will destroy your executive image. Avoid "fashion-forward" dress - This goes for both men and women. Generally speaking, employers are more willing to trust conservative dressers. Maybe, that is why "Brooks Brothers" has flourished since 1818. Casual day notwithstanding, the loudly proclaimed relaxed changes in acceptability are more fashion fantasy than business fact. The truth is that business styles change very little, and there is no point in risking a job offer by gambling on passing (and very expensive) fads. The only bank accounts that are fattened by a new fad are those of the designer and manufacturer who created it.
Ladies avoid heavy doses of pastels - Women can add authority by wearing less pink, baby blue, and other pastels that are equated with nurseries. There is also little or no authority to be found in dangle earrings, sexy shoes, and ankle bracelets. Also, do not wear stockings with overly fussy patterns. Lace is definitely out, as are seams. As a fall back, bring an extra pair of panty hose in your handbag just in case you get a run.
Get your hands on an annual report - If the company is publicly traded, call the Investor Relations Department and obtain an annual report. Look at the pictures inside, this is how senior management wants the shareholders to perceive that they dress everyday. Copy the styles in the pictures and you can't go wrong. Note: Is there anything you do not see in the pictures of women executives: Yes, you never see any of the ladies wearing anything provocative, jewelry is sparse, and no one has a pants outfit on.
Wear good quality shoes - and keep them shined - This sounds like stupid advice, but such things get noticed, whether we like it or not. Women: For authority's sake, favor dark versions of the plain pump (closed toe and heels). Men: If you already wear good quality, well-maintained shoes and want to add still more authority, exchange slip-ons for lace-ups. When it comes to shoes, handbags, and belts, don't sacrifice quality for quantity. Carrying or wearing quality accessories are a great way to upgrade anyone's interviewing wardrobe.
Major taboos - Cheap digital watches (unless the company you're interviewing with manufacturers, imports, or distributes them). When it comes to briefcases, the narrower the better, three-inch imported leather versions are probably the most impressive, and they never go out of style. Avoid clothes made of polyester and other synthetic fibers, they are inferior to natural fibers in a multitude of ways, nor do they "breathe." There are a few exceptions in this category, so if you wear blends, make sure they're of excellent quality.
Other taboos... alligator shoes, short socks, white socks, ties that end above or well below your belt, skirts that are over 3 inches above the knee or excessively tight, anything suggestively sheer, excessive perfume or colognes, tacky jewelry, and wrinkled unpressed outfits or suits.
I will never ask anyone reading this article to concede that it is fair or just or moral for a person's success or failure in a job interview to depend to a large extent, on how one dresses. However, there is one overriding concept that every job seeker must constantly keep in mind: The way a person dresses is the single biggest non-verbal communication they make about themselves. Now put on your Sunday best, grab those car keys, head out the door, and really ace that next interview. Just remember, in order to succeed at that big interview, you want to be known for your talents and energy, not for your red socks.
-Joe Hodowanes, J.M. Wanes and Associates"
<Note from JobFairy.com: This advice is golden. Follow it to the letter.>