Interview Attire And Moammar Gadhafi With A Buzz.

Tired of me yet?  Most are at this point in the job search process.  I guess that’s the bad news.  Here is the good.   You have a face to face job interview coming up.  You’ve done all the research regarding the company, you’re prepared for all the team based, behavioral based questions they can throw your way, and you are more than ready to demonstrate your value.  Let’s go through some tips that will keep you focused on the task at hand, and not allow your mind to wander to self-imposed questions concerning your appearance.  Rule number one.  Do not dress like Moammar Gadhafi; well at least not for the first interview.

As in the resume construction process, just as in the personal online branding process, in an interview situation, you are marketing yourself as a product that has a specific value proposition.  You want and need your physical appearance to present an image that is consistent with the brand that you have established by marketing yourself through your resume, and social media sites.

While you may have been able to glean from your company research a certain feel for the culture of the organization, take that research a little further, and know that it is perfectly acceptable to ask what to wear.

In most traditional industries, like finance, manufacturing, or healthcare, business professional attire is appropriate.  This means for men, a traditional suit and tie.  For women, a conservative suit with understated accessories.   Industries such as media, advertising, and technology can really vary by company, and geography.  Again, when in doubt ask so that you can remain focused on your interview.  Further, asking about a company’s dress policy is not uncommon, and demonstrates respect.  Let’s say you forgot the above.  Aside from being weak, dress up, and not down.  You can take your tie off once you’re there, but if you don’t have one on to begin with, then realize you need one; you’re up the creek.

I hate to spend money, and you should too.  You’re probably out of work.  Anyway here is where I begin.  I’ll head over to the mall and window shop for what looks like a conservative business suit, snap some picture with my phone,  and then head to a discount outlet store where I get the same general look for much less.  Also, you can go pretty far with one suit.  Change up the shoes, shirt, tie and belt, and you can get as far as your deodorant will take you.  My wife and daughter will not like this, but the same goes for women.  Head to Saks or wherever, window shop, get your shots, and hit the outlets for a black pantsuit, change the shirt, jewelry, and scarf.  It’s no biggie.  I’ve been using the same Saks bag, and paper for the last 12 years for Christmas and birthdays.

Don’t go rouge on the easy to shine up accessories. Shine your shoes.  If they’re suede, brush them, and if they’re old, have the soles redone at a shoemaker.   If your briefcase is leather, and in good shape, take it along.  If you do not have a briefcase, a nice portfolio binder will do just fine.

What you wear to an interview can have a big impact on whether or not you get the job. Not because all employers are fashionistas who will hire you if you appear as a fashion icon, but because what you wear to an interview speaks volumes about you.

Here are a few more tips and reminders that will probably not apply to the majority of you unless you spend time hanging out at the mall frequenting Goth stores.  However, I am compelled to site them based experiences employers have shared with me.

  • Casual Wear:  Unless you are specifically told to wear casual clothes to an interview, do not.
  • Accessories:  No iPod, sunglasses, or ball caps.  Turn the phone to silent or off.
  • Clothing That Fits:  Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl.”
  • Piercings & Tattoos:  Take them out and cover them up.
  • Perfume & Cologne:  Go easy.  Your interviewer might have allergies. True story.

So the first goal is to dress in a manner that will be consistent with the value proposition you have put forth on your resume, social media sites, and through your phone interview.  The second is to be confident in your attire to the extent that you have no concerns regarding how your physical presentation will be initially perceived.  With those to goal achieved, you’ll be free to concentrate on effectively communicating your value and building upon the personal bran you have established throughout the interview.

Buzz Smith is the SR Curmudgeon and VP of Consulting Services for OPI National Outplacement.  OPI National Outplacement and Career Transition Services Company located in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Buzz can be reached at 865.531.9154


About Buzz Smith

Welcome. My name is Charles “Buzz” Smith and I’m the SR Curmudgeon of Consulting Services at OPI National Outplacement. My role, in addition to agitating our sales personnel, and consultants is to take the lead on delivering outplacement and career transition services that are effective. I blog about career stuff when my wife of 40 years, Linda banishes to the garden.

Posted on June 7, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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