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Presenting Yourself at Interview

By Jo Glover – Recruitment Consultant for Accountancy, Finance & Commercial

Someone once told me, ‘Dress for the job you want…’ and as it’s not always appropriate to turn up to my first interview in a wonder woman costume, I had to compromise!

Interviews are a nerve racking experience for all. Even the most seasoned candidates and those who interview for a living get those pre-interview jitters!

Of course, the substance of the interview is key! Your conversation, skills, and subject knowledge are all essential. However arguably, your attire and first impressions will play a much bigger part in the final outcome.

First impressions are important! According to studies it takes only a short 7 seconds for a complete stranger to form an opinion of you based on your appearance and conduct alone.

Fashions come and go but a smart suit will never go out of fashion..

There are companies that will say ‘ oh it’s just an informal interview…’ This doesn’t mean that you can treat it as a casual chat – In my opinion it’s always important to go all out and wear a suit! This is a test of your judgement, to see how seriously you take meeting a potential employer for the first time.

Men I believe have it easy – chances are every man owns a suit, or at least a shirt and tie! Always always ensure that your ironed, tucked in and un-pull those trousers from the socks!

Women – it’s harder! Skirt? Trousers? Dress? Do I need a jacket? Heels or flat shoes? Which handbag? Do i need a coat? Which jewellery? Make up? What to do with my hair? It is a minefield of options!

Just remember to feel comfortable – if you look great, you’ll feel great and if you feel great, there will be a much higher chance of you storming your interview.

Whatever you decide to wear, I would recommend that you start with a fairly safe, uncomplicated canvas and add a splash of your own personality.

If you get the chance to try on your outfit a couple of days in advance, you will be able to get any dry cleaning done and come up with a contingency outfit should something either not fit, or have a rip or hole in it.

Presenting yourself at interview however goes so much further than the clothes that you choose. It is the small details that are usually those that stand out garishly to a prying eye.

So here are my top tips:

  • Personal hygiene – Smell nice! Be clean and tidy!
  • Ladies watch out for chipped nails and nail varnish
  • Hair – keep it brushed and tidy! For the fashion conscious rolled out of bed looks – tuck those stray hairs back in to place
  • Polish those shoes – do not ruin your strategically picked outfit with a bad shoe
  • For men, make sure you shave and keep facial hair to a minimum
  • For women, don’t wear anything that is too revealing
  • Perfume and aftershave – this is a must! But please don’t fall into the bottle! A subtle touch goes a long way!

Now, once you are through that door, looking great, smelling fresh and feeling wonderful, shake the hand of your interviewer firmly, big warm and enthusiastic smile, keep good eye contact and breathe!

The first impression is already done – now it is all down to your skills and personality!

Good Luck!!

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