Your Secret Weapon in a Job Interview

You’ve finished college.  Now it’s time to pound the pavement to nab a job.

If your family is anything like mine was, I’m sure they’ve already mentioned the tough economic times once, twice, or maybe fifty times.  My mom tried to ease my job-search anxiety by letting me know “there are few jobs out there” and “competition for the small openings that exist is tough.”  I learned to meet her good natured advice only halfway because I knew that the hiring teams at those companies were looking for the perfect candidate, and I knew I could appear to be exactly who they were looking for.

People who get hired have a secret weapon.  Can you guess what it is?

They appear to be the full package.

Let’s say you and your competition are on a level playing field, academically and professionally speaking, and you’re both going after the same job.  Both of you have worked hard to earn your degrees.  Maybe you even went to the same school and each of you has a list of references and internships to add to your experience.  Excellent!  Perhaps you both have high grade point averages, and due to job scarcity, you’ve both snatched an interview at the company of both of your dreams.  Obviously, your hard work paid off; now, you’re halfway there.  With all that in common, what’s left in distinguishing you from the rest of eager frogs in the pond?

Your appearance.

It has been said that people make their first impressions after only a very short amount of time.  From your handshake to your shoes, recruiters use these details to assemble a mental picture of what you’ll be like working for their company.  The way you look is important.  After all, once you’ve nailed the job, it’ll be your face representing their brand in the real world.

If you think your choice in clothing doesn’t matter, you’re wrong.  When showing up at a job interview, you want to stand out like the first-rate candidate you know you are.  I like to call the company and ask what their dress code is.  That way, when I show up to discuss what an amazing addition I can, and hopefully will, make, I already look like a member of the team.  Choosing your winning outfit can be tough, so I’ve provided some simple suggestions you can consider.

Garment guidelines:

  • Less is more. Avoid distracting colors and patterns; you want to be the focus, not your clothing, makeup, or accessories.
  • Find flattering fashions. If you know your body-type, you can easily research the styles for you.  If you don’t know your body type, you can find out what it is here:

For women:

For men:

  • Natural fabrics like wool, cotton, and silk wear well and can last a lifetime; Synthetics don’t last as long, and they retain odors.  Yuck!
  • A classic, must-have for every professional is a black blazer. Women can choose a fitted look to add a touch of femininity.  This can be paired with a mid-length skirt or a pair of neutral tone trousers.  Men can pair this wardrobe staple with jeans or trousers, depending on the type of field and amount of formality involved.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. They can help you focus less on walking and more on talking.
  • Be yourself. Your style should be appropriate and professional, and it should reflect something about what makes you special.

Now that we’ve tackled fashion, click here for advice on how to answer tough interview questions.

What are your secrets to acing the job interview? What are your biggest frustrations? Give up the goods in the comments below!

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  1. Kurt
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    In a job interview it is key and vital to have good posture, make eye contact all the time and ask alot of questions pertaining to the job that you are looking to have. Also to dress professionally and neat whether you are a girl or guy is very important as well.

  2. Mary
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    Good advice!

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