First impressions last forever. They're the reason that real estate agents tout the importance of a home's curb appeal and why women apply makeup before a night out with friends. First impressions and how you dress in your job interview can make all the difference in the eyes of the hiring manager. 80% of hiring decisions are made within two minutes of the start of your job interview - so you'd better make your first impression count.
Johnny, an applicant for a call center position, arrived to my office for his interview. He had a stellar resume and great experience; I was looking forward to meeting him and he was my top candidate after the phone screen. But to my surprise, Johnny arrived to the interview in wrinkled pants and shirt with a mustard stain, unshaven, and bed head. In under just 30 seconds, Johnny went from my top candidate to out of consideration.
Your first impression lasts forever in the eyes of the hiring manager. While Johnny looked qualified on paper, I started to question things like his professionalism, maturity, and his ability to work for the very strict manager he would be reporting to. Johnny's lack of professional dress kept him from receiving a job offer.
Here's what to do so that you don't become a Johnny.
- Select apparel & accessories that do not detract from your professional image. Leave the strong cologne, perfume and flashy, large jewelry at home. The interviewer's attention should be focused on what you say and your qualifications.
- Make sure your hair is clean, neat and professionally styled. Avoid a style that covers over more than your forehead or one that you have to brush back.
- Remove facial and body piercings other than earring for interviews. Visible tattoos should be covered to avoid distraction.
- Sweatpants and flip-flops are best left for the beach and gym. If you are interviewing in a professional environment, at minimum wear slacks, dress shoes and a nice shirt or blouse. in some cases wearing nice jeans (no holes, no dirt) to an interview is ok. But if you have any doubts, play it safe and wear dress pants. T-shirts, sweatpants and flip flops are not acceptable.
- Apparel should be clean, neatly pressed and fit well.
When interviewing for a job, it's important to not only consider your own personal style but the work environment in where you are applying. Choose professional apparel that is appropriate for the work environment -- suits for a financial institution or slacks and polo shirt for a blue-collar atmosphere. When in doubt, ask your hiring manager prior to the interview what the workplace dress code is so you can plan appropriately.