Interviews can be stressful events. We can be asked to attend an interview at any point in our career or business. Interviews are not purely just for new jobs, they crop up for college/training courses, to become an approved supplier, for certain types of clients there can be pre-qualification interviews. All extremely important in their own right and as such, all equally as nerve racking.

The first thing that always crosses your mind when you hear of an impending interview is “what the heck am I going wear?”

Dressing for an interview is almost an art unto itself. It isn’t like dressing for other occasions; it seems to require even greater consideration since there is often a lot riding on the interview itself.

Of course, one thing we all know is that the very first thing we see when you first meet someone, is what they are wearing and in particular often the colour that they are wearing. Hence why we all worry so much about what to wear and, unfortunately, it really does require extra special attention.

Research shows that face to face, it takes just 7 seconds to make an impression on someone. Within these few seconds we all make profound judgments about people’s age, background, education, health, wealth, talent and experience, before you even have the opportunity to say anything.

This is why if you do not dress for success for an interview, the interview panel may make certain judgements about you right from the start and may decide not to give you the job/the contact/the order, even before you have had the chance to tell them how great you really are.

You therefore really do need to make an immediate positive impact. Your non-verbal communication has an initial much greater profound affect than what you subsequently tell the interview panel.

When you have so much to offer in terms of skills and experience, it may feel unfair that your clothes get judged. However, if you try at interview stage to take a stand about the unfairness of being judged by what you wear, you may not even get past the introductions. Rightly or wrongly your outfit needs to be an integral part of creating the right impression for you and your business.

Once you work somewhere or with a company, you know the culture, the expectation and what is appropriate for the office or client meetings or the general work environment. However interviews are different.

You can research the company beforehand and get a feel for their culture, their values and their dress code but there is always a danger that because it is an interview, even they as a company, may upgrade their attire for the interview appointments. It is something to bear in mind.

Interviews hold their own mystique in every respect and particularly if the interviewer is inexperienced themselves, they may try to disguise that by upscaling their normal work wear.

So what should you wear for interview?

Research is of course crucial as a starting point. Look at their website. Look at their company profile on LinkedIn and then view the staff profiles. What are they wearing? Is there a common theme?

My advice is to fully understand what is appropriate for the company you are interviewing for and then add a tiny bit more formality and of course don’t forget to show some of your own personality. No one dresses down intentionally for an interview including the interview panel so, as a default, if you are in two minds as to go smart or less smart, go smart.

Looking good and taking care of your image immediately makes you feel good and feel more confident. If you plan in advance what you are going to wear and know that it makes you look and feel good, on the day of the interview you haven’t then got to worry at all about your outfit and you can just focus on giving the best interview that you can.

Take the time to select the best, most appropriate outfit for your interview and make sure it fits well, that it is comfortable and that it makes you feel fantastic.

Some research for recruitment for jobs has shown that recruiters can make their minds up about a candidate within the first 15 seconds of interviews and that the rest of the interview is then used for backing-up their initial feelings about the candidate.

Obviously, you must follow a good first impression with the real know how, it is no good just looking the part, but dressing and grooming is the best and most appropriate way will give you a huge head start.

If you are seen as excellent in your first interaction, the interviewer will want to believe that you are excellent in all other areas. Making the best first impression that you can means that they will already believe you can do a good job for them. They are then more likely to give you the opportunity to fully explain your suitability for the job.

However, if you do not take the time and effort to look good and therefore end up making a poor first impression, they could assume that you are not capable of doing the job or fulfilling a contract. You will therefore have to work harder to convince them that you are the best candidate. So why make your job difficult?

Unfortunately, the negative effect we make on people is often more profound that the positive and so trying to convince a company to change their mind if their first impression of you is a poor one, is very difficult.

So, when planning for an interview, do your research not only on the company but on how you think you need to look for that interview. Use your image to make the best impact you can. Demonstrate what a brilliant ambassador for their company you would be if they had you as part of their organisation. Make that lasting first impression the best that you can!

Deb Turner

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