Making a Good First Impression
What to Wear
Congratulations! You have made it to the Interview Round! But now is NOT the time to feel like you have it in the bag. If anything, now is when your work actually begins.
Have you ever had the dream of walking into a class and it is time to take the final and you realize you have never even opened the text book or attended the class all semester? Or that it is opening night and you have no idea what any of your lines are, but it is time for you to be on stage? Well, guess what? That is exactly how you will feel if you go into an interview unprepared!
THE NITTY GRITTY PREP WORK
Want to score brownie points with an interviewer? Research the company and understand what you would be doing. You would be amazed at the number of people who walk into an interview and have no idea what the company manufactures, distributes or accomplishes. How can you sell yourself for a position if you do not understand how your strengths would contribute to the success of the company?
Anticipate questions that an employer may ask, and PRACTICE how you would answer them. Keep your answers brief and concise, but add interesting stories and examples to supplement strength or skill questions. Don’t be thrown by “unusual” questions. One Bethel nursing student was completely thrown when her first question was, “If you could be a Disney cartoon character, who would you be and why?” Sometimes employers do not necessarily care about your actual answer, but are testing you to see how you stand up under pressure or the unexpected.
Near the end of the interview, the employer will most likely ask if you have any questions. Some job seekers mistakenly think if they say “Nope!” it makes them look brilliant. Actually quite the opposite message is sent out. Prepare a few well thought out questions for the employer. This shows him you are serious about the position and that you have done your homework. However, do not bring up salary or benefits. Allow the employer to bring this issue up instead.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
One employer was extremely put off by one candidate applying for an account executive position. “His shirt was so wrinkled that it looked like he’d worn it the day before, balled it up in a corner of his room, put it back on the next morning and wore it to the interview. He didn’t even bother to try and cover it up by putting a jacket over it. My thought was that if he couldn’t even take the time to impress me at our first meeting, what was he going to be like with our customers?”
You never have a second chance to make that first impression! “There is simply no excuse for wrinkled shirts, thigh-high skirts or coffee stained ties at an interview.” All seniors should build into their book budget, an allotment for interviewing clothing. This suit should be clean, pressed and ready to go at a moments notice.
BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL FOR MEN
- Conservative two piece business suit (solid dark blue or gray is best)
- Conservative long sleeved shirt (white is best, followed by pastel)
- Necktie should be silk with conservative pattern
- Dark shoes that match belt
- Dark socks (NEVER white socks)
BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL FOR WOMEN
- Suit color should be black, gray, or navy blue
- Tailored blouse is best
- Wear basic pumps, low-heeled, that match or are darker than skirt
- Always wear hosiery in a professional setting
- Avoid “trendy” clothing, evening attire or any clothing which exposes bare shoulders, back or midriff
- Jewelry should be limited to two pieces (earrings and bracelet; one ring on hand) and should never be distracting
- Make-up is subtle
FOR A PROFESSIONAL LOOK FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN:
- Polished shoes
- Well-groomed hairstyle
- Clean-manicured fingernails
- Minimal cologne or perfume
- Empty pockets of keys, change, etc.
- Remove visible body piercing jewelry
- Chino pants
- Capris or shorts
- Tee shirts
- Low necklines, high hemlines
- Sheer materials
- Tennis shoes, sandals, deck shoes, boots
- Big purse for women—go instead with a briefcase
Allison Doyle in “Your Guide to Job Searching” suggests things you should bring with you to the interview and things that you need to leave at home:
What to bring to an interview
- Portfolio, pad holder or briefcase with copies of your résumé and references on quality paper so that they are available upon request
- Work samples (if relevant)
- Notepad, pen
- Breath mint (before you enter the building)
- Women: extra pair of pantyhose (keep in your briefcase or car)
What NOT to bring to an interview
- Cell phone
- Soda or coffee