Dress & Poise: How to Present Your Best Self in a Job Interview

Dress & Poise: How to Present Your Best Self in a Job Interview
  • Opening Intro -

    When it comes understanding and interacting with others, people often say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

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However, this is exactly what occurs during job interviews. How one dresses, speaks and presents themselves will significantly impact how HR professionals form their first and sometimes only impression of candidates.

Initial Introductions

When job candidates arrive at the interview location, they should introduce themselves to the receptionist by stating their name and scheduled interview time. Keep in mind that some HR managers ask receptionists and other front office staff how job candidates behave when they arrive. In these cases, job candidates who are rude or demeaning to office staff will not progress to the next interview. What happens next depends on the organization. Corporations and government agencies often hand out questionnaires and essay questions to complete.

These documents are actually part of the interview because they show how well job candidates follow directions and if they can complete tasks within designated periods of time. When you are escorted to the interview room and meet the hiring manager, take the time to clearly introduce yourself. Even if the interviewer doesn’t offer their hand first, always offer to shake hands. Hiring managers in certain labor-based industries, such as construction and production, pay close attention to the intensity of handshakes.

How to Dress

Always first try to get a feel for the work environment in order to dress accordingly. There are actually categories of dress that correspond with certain industries. For example, conservative dress is a must for corporations like law offices, financial firms and health care institutions. Business casual is common in sales, retail, real estate, education and government agencies. Casual dress is common in repair, plumbing, construction and manufacturing companies.

It doesn’t hurt to dress up too much, but always come prepared for a formal interview. For example, many industrial companies will think twice before hiring a job candidate wearing a tux and tie. However, failure to wear clean and neat clothes will make a bad impression. Certain industries actually encourage creative and fashionable dress, such as music, fashion, entertainment and video game design organizations. The level of dress formality indicates the seriousness of your commitment to the job.

You also want to make sure that what you wear says something about who you are as best as you can in a formal manner. For example, male candidates may want to consider wearing unique ties or customizable belt buckles. Female candidates may want to make a statement by wearing slacks instead of the traditional dress or skirt. It all just depends on who you are and what you want what you wear to say about you.

Mental Preparation

Prepare for standard and unexpected interview questions. For example, review your employment past so you can easily answer how long and where you have worked. Be ready to explain the unique experiences, opportunities and challenges afforded by each position.

When asked about weaknesses, never say that you do not have any. Always present legitimate skills or areas that you are working on improving, but make sure that everything you say is said in a positive way. That question, although it is a common one in the interview world, is also a trick question. Make sure to explain how you are committed to long-term improvement and career development, because that demonstrates maturity and dedication.

Always have legitimate explanations for any time you were laid off or took a voluntary work hiatus. HR managers are naturally suspicious of terminations or employment gaps because they may hide serious problems. Mentally lay out your future by defining personal goals and plans for future training or education. Be prepared to answer how and why you would ultimately want to achieve a leadership role or propel the industry forward. Prepare a list of skills and knowledge that will easily crossover into the new job or industry.

The best way to practice job interviews is through a formal practice session with a friend. The feedback gained from this experience will help you understand where you need to improve. If possible, ask a business mentor or an experienced friend to provide constructive criticism of your dress and demeanor. Don’t forget that your resume should concisely summarize all skills, competencies and experience. This is because HR managers only have a short amount of time to scan each resume.

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Last update on 2017-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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