New year, new beginnings, maybe a new job? If not for you, maybe someone you know… As someone who is regularly interviewing candidates for a wide range of positions – entry level to senior management – I am often astounded at how poorly some people present themselves at a first interview, which can blow the opportunity for a second one!
It is my guess that those of you reading this already know and understand the tips I will be presenting – however – MANY out there do not! Maybe you can share this with someone (any age) who is job hunting, or share it on your Facebook page. Let’s help others put their best foot forward in the new year!
- For guys: Wear a blazer. Yeah, yeah, you hate it, you only have one, nobody in your previous job wore them, it’s too dressed up…stop! To make a positive first impression at ANY level, wear a dress shirt with a blazer. Unless you are applying for a senior position, a sales position, or in a formal office, you need not wear a tie, but a blazer is a must, and – be sure it fits properly.
- For gals: Avoid showing too much skin. Even in the summer when it’s 90 degrees outside, don’t wear a sleeveless sheath dress unless you have a light blazer/jacket on top. What about bare legs? Wearing sheer tights are ideal, but you can get by with bare legs if your skirt falls just below the knee and you wear closed toe shoes. NO cleavage. NONE.
- Leave your fashionista self at home. As much as you love trendy styles, unless you are applying to work in a boutique in SoHo, tone down your look. No super high heels, no big earrings, no flashy accessories, no head-to-toe designer logos, no wild prints. The focus should be on YOU and what you have to say.
- Pull back your hair. The last thing a professional employer wants to see (other than a professional hairdresser!) are locks of curls halfway down your back, or your gorgeous straight hair hanging down over your boobs. Why? It does not send the message, ‘I am a serious professional.’ If you have below shoulder length hair, at least pull it partly back so it is not distracting. The focus should not be on your hair! (While on the subject of hair, don’t wear a scrunchie or hair tie on your wrist.)
- Carry a tote or a simple leather binder. Need not be fancy, a faux leather binder from Staples is fine. I can’t tell you how many potential employees walk into an interview casually with car keys in their hand and nothing else! Put your keys away, have your hand free for handshakes. Regardless of the position you are applying for, you always want to bring in clean, unwrinkled copies of your resume (in the binder) and have a clean notepad and pen ready to take notes. Even if you don’t take notes, it shows that you are prepared to.
- Get rid of the gum. This might sound ridiculously basic, but I have interviewed many professionals that spoke the entire time with gum in their mouths. These interviews never lasted long because it is a complete deal breaker for me. Another deal breaker: walking in with your Dunkin Donuts coffee.
- Cover your tattoos. Time are changing and tattoos are no longer sported only by gang members and Harley riders. While they are certainly more mainstream and often acceptable, every company has different dress codes and it makes sense to err on the conservative side and cover them up.
Pretty simple, right? Here are two final closing points…
- When you show up for an interview, it is assumed this is the very best you are going to look. Employers don’t hire you thinking they can give you a makeover. 😉
- Body language is huge. You can blow it if you sit too casually, as if you are chatting with a friend. Sit up straight, lean forward, make eye contact.
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Please share this with people you know that might be looking for a job – you might make a difference in someone’s life! 🙂