Did you know that the mistake made most often in getting ready for an interview is unkempt shoes? According to the Shoe Service Institute of America, 89% of business recruiters rate good grooming high on the requirement list for senior executive material, and the way you take care of your shoes is a big part of the image you present. Here’s another quote from this source:
“Shoes are a reflection of their owner’s personality. That’s what both personnel professionals — who have been known to observe people closely — and white collar workers (the people they usually observe) said. Well kept shoes stand for professionalism, attention to detail, ambition, efficiency, conscientiousness, organization, confidence and even friendliness.”
A cursory look at the history of clothing shows a lot of change, and it is a fascinating way to spend some time. Who knew that both men and women wore makeup and high heels in some European courts? Clothing has always been an indicator of power, and that fact will probably never change. But when you are trying to figure out how to dress for the success of your career, there isn’t much help in the styles of the past. What matters today is the impression you make on those around you now.
There Is No Single Business Uniform
It’s a mistake to think that you can read up on business attire and get it right for a specific business environment, because every workplace is slightly different. There are some general guidelines, though, and I think the best one I’ve seen is Business Insider’s look at How To Dress Like A Leader In Any Work Environment. It identifies 5 levels of business attire, from “baseline casual” to “boardroom attire” and gives a complex subject some simplicity.
But the reality is that different regions in the world can vary on their idea of what to wear, and when. CEOs in the Silicon Valley are going to look different than a similar executive level in New York City, while the boardroom in Hong Kong has way more suits in it than the same company’s boardroom in Hawaii.
You only have six seconds to make a good first impression. Six seconds. That’s not even enough time to say your elevator speech!
Best-selling author and LinkedIn Career Expert, Nicole Williams echoes this fact. What you wear makes a bigger statement about yourself and your chances of doing well at the job before you even start talking.
A crumpled shirt, ill-fitting pants, and scuffed shoes all speak volumes about your professional abilities.
The dress code varies per industry, creatives and start-ups favor stylish but slightly casual attire, while educational, legal, and financial industries still favor a more conservative dress code.
The problem is there’s a fine line between formal and tacky; it’s difficult to thread that line and make sure the recruiters remember you as well.
How to Answer Interview Questions - Q5 -- Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
How to Answer Interview Questions - Q14 -- How to Answer Interview Questions - Q2 -- How did you deal with the situation the last time your boss chastised you or strongly or disagreed with a statement, a plan or a decision you made?
How to Answer Interview Questions - Q29 -- I noticed that you are applying for a position that is not as senior as you past positions. Why would you consider a job that is, in effect, a demotion for you?
Click to expand question sets, then click individual questions to read the post.
This is a tough question. I think it sounds like another version of “what are your greatest advantages and disadvantages?” or another way to ask about your strengths and weaknesses. They’re looking to see if you’ll tell them about any issues or problems you might have, while they’re assessing your enthusiasm and approach to the job.
As with most job interview questions, you need to keep it as positive as you can. I don’t normally have a fear when I go into a job and I don’t think that you should voice one, either.
Why not? Well, think about this interaction you’re having with this hiring manager. This process you’re going through to sell yourself for the job is a sales process. You’re the product and he (or she) is the buyer. Why would they want to choose a product that wasn’t certain it could do the job? Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: would you buy something at a store that “hoped” it could do what you needed it to do, as long as nothing went wrong? Of course not. You’d buy the product that said, “I can do X…no question. I’ve done it before and I can do it for you.”
For those reasons, the best answer is something like, “Nothing scares me about this job, and everything about it is exciting because I know that I can impact A, B, and C. I know this because I’ve done it before.” (“A, B, and C” are those outcomes the company wants to affect with the tasks of this role.)
If you haven’t actually done this job before, you can say, “I’ve done something very similar before.” And make sure you know why and how your skills that you learned in other places transfer to this one.
Another great answer sounds like this: “I can’t say that I’m scared at all about this job. I’m excited about the opportunity to exceed your expectations, and I’m excited about what the future holds for me once I do that.”
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If you’re really pressed for an answer to the scared portion of this question, say “The only things that scare me are things that might come up that could cause me to delay my success or make success more difficult to attain. I don’t see that happening, but if it did, I would find a solution.” That’s a positive, confident, can-do attitude.
Stay positive, confident, and focused on what you can do for them. That’s what will sell you for the job.
By the way...This question is a great time to introduce your 30-60-90-day plan. Talking about what you’re excited about in this job is an ideal segue to what you’ve put together to be successful in your first 3 months on the job. And it’s an amazing bridge for any experience gaps you might have, too. Find out more => 30 60 90 day plan.
Do you know that most people develop a lasting impression of you and what you’re like based on the first few seconds of meeting you? That’s way before you’ve said anything important…you’ve barely said “hello.” Some of that impression is based off your body language and handshake, true, but the rest is based off how you look—what you’re wearing.
how to dress for a job interview
Your interviewer is even more focused on you than most people. They’re really looking for clues to base their hiring decision on. So, when you really want that job, it’s important to keep ‘professional’ at the top of your mind when dressing for the interview. A good rule of thumb is to dress one step above what you would be expected to wear on the job. In other words, dress for success.
For men, this means wearing a full suit rather than coordinates. A full suit shows respect and attention to detail. The suit should be dark in color over a white shirt. The tie should be conservative. At the first meeting, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Besides color, women need to also consider whether a skirt suit or a pants suit is more appropriate. While most hiring managers prefer women in a skirt suit, they tend not to penalize women for wearing a pants suit. It’s important for both men and women to remember that the suit should be professional and comfortable.
Comfortable, in this case, is not synonymous with “comfy” which implies sloppy. Since what you wear reflects your attitude, “comfy” clothing will reflect a relaxed attitude that could hurt your chance of getting the job. What comfortable should mean: clothes that fit; that allow you to move easily and not feel restricted. You do not want to adjust your clothing during an interview.
Your interview outfit doesn’t end with the suit. Coordinating shoes are also important. Women should wear low heels with closed toes and sensible hose and men should wear clean, black leather shoes with black socks. Never wear tennis, or sports shoes. Hiring managers also notice if your shoes are clean and well-cared for.
As for accessories, you want to keep your look conservative: men- a muted tie is a ‘must’ and a watch is appropriate, but remove earrings and facial piercings. If you are emotionally attached to your beard, keep it closely trimmed and neat. If, however, you have had several interviews but haven’t been offered a job, you might want to consider a clean-shaven look and see if that makes a difference.
Women, be sure your jewelry is not too flashy: earring posts or simple hoop earrings are fine, but be careful of other facial piercings that could be distracting and get in the way of landing the job. Speaking of distractions…absolutely NEVER show any cleavage.
When deciding on what to wear to your interview, remember to leave off wearing cologne or perfume. “Clean” is the only smell that should emanate from you during an interview.
Being ultra-prepared (good resume, 30-60-90-day plan and brag book) and appropriately dressed for the interview means the hiring manager can concentrate on your skills and abilities, and you’ll have an excellent chance of landing that DREAM position. Your appearance says it all.