So, you have scored yourself an interview and now you are wondering what to wear! Preparing your interview outfit is an important task that extends past the clothes you wear. Yes, your clothing choice is important, but you also need to consider your overall presentation and that includes being aware of your personal hygiene. Think you've got this covered? Don't be so certain. Everyone THINKS they have got this covered, yet people are still making the same mistakes. There is no judgement here, just check yourself before you wreck yourself. It would be a shame to miss out on your dream job because of something that is easily fixed.
Why is personal presentation such a big deal anyway?
There are multiple reasons that your personal presentation is critical in an interview. Here are just a few:
- I want to know that you will present professionally to my customers. My company has a good reputation and I want to keep it that way. When you come to an interview I am going to assume that your personal presentation is just about as good as it is going to get. If you are unkempt, it is a sign of things to come.
- If you look like you haven't put in the effort, I don't believe you really want the job. I've said it before. I want to hire passionate employees who are excited to work for my company. Can't be bothered presenting well? I can't be bothered employing you.
- If you don't take pride in your appearance, I question the pride and attention to detail that you demonstrate in your work. Enough said.
- Personal hygiene issues have the possibility to cause pain down the track. I have worked with people who have had extreme personal hygiene issues, some so offensive (and sad) that I am not going to go into detail. As a colleague, this becomes a difficult situation. As a manager, it can be much worse. Having to have a conversation with an employee about their personal hygiene is not a great experience, for either party. I will try to avoid it if I can, so if you stink during your interview, it will impact on my decision.
If you look like you haven't made an effort, I don't believe you want the job.
Now you've got me worried? What should I do, Becca?
No need to stress. I talk about awareness all the time, and in this situation too, awareness is key. If you have a strong self-awareness about these things you are less likely to go wrong. Here are some basic tips:
YOUR INTERVIEW OUTFIT
- Most of all, you need to wear something you feel comfortable in. If you are fidgeting with the hem of your dress or the neckline of your shirt, this will be distracting for you and your interviewer.
- Unless you are auditioning for a role as a Meter Maid, have some modesty. Boobies, bums, belly buttons and chest hair should all be tucked away under your clothes. You might be tempted to think that showing a little skin will give you a better chance of getting the job, but I ask you this... "If you did get the job based on your cleavage, is that the kind of employer you want to work for?" Food for thought.
- Attention to detail is a must. For optimum results, polish your shoes, remove lint and dog hair from your clothes (this is a real life problem for me!) repair any loose hems and make sure you aren't missing any buttons. The extra effort won't take you too long, but it will make a difference, not only in your interviewer's perception of you, but also in your own confidence.
- You may be able to get away with something a little more "out there" if you work in a creative field, but I would always err on the side of caution. It is better to save your trendiest outfits for when you have the job and a better idea about what is appropriate and acceptable in the workplace.
- Accessorise carefully. This may not be the time to break out your J-Lo hoops and your gold chains. Keep your accessories simple and sophisticated. Allow your interviewer to focus on what you are saying, not on your holographic headpiece.
For interview outfit inspiration, check out my Pinterest Board: Business Fashion.
YOUR INTERVIEW BEAUTY REGIME
- Save that new bright lipstick and eye shadow for Saturday night on the town. If you aren't interviewing for a role as drag-queen, best not attend your interview looking like one. When it comes to your make-up, simple is best. Pay attention to detail, make sure that your foundation is blended well (onto your face, not the collar of your shirt) and your eyebrows are tame.
- Keep your hair clean and neat. I did once hire a lovely young lady with a mohawk and I would happily do it again if it was suitable for my brand. The key to having a crazy hair do? Well, you gotta keep it clean and neat, just like those peeps with traditional dos.
- Attention to detail is key. I know, I have already said it, but hopefully you get how important it is! Ditch the cracked nail polish and present yourself at your best.
YOUR PERSONAL HYGIENE
- Make sure you have adequate antiperspirant on. I get it, your best interview outfit may not be the "coolest" especially in the middle of Summer, so make sure you bash your B.O. with a healthy dose of deodorant.
- Choose your outfit appropriately for the weather. If you know you are a sweater and you are interviewing in Summer, choose breathable fabrics and try to change into your gear as close to your interview as possible It is not just the smell that is distracting. Big sweat patches under your pits do not compliment your interview attire! In Winter time make sure that you are wearing a cardigan or jumper so that you aren't shivering your way through your interview - or "high beaming", which is sooooooo awkward. For everyone involved.
- Got bad breath? Keep some mints on hand or try adding some chlorophyll to your water each day for longer term management. Also, don't forget to check your teeth for any cheeky remnants from lunch!
- If you are a smoker, think twice about lighting up right before your interview. I know it's tempting to calm the nerves, but you will smell like an ash tray. I am an ex-smoker and I used to think that I didn't smell. After nearly 9 months off the ciggies, I am seriously surprised at how strong the smell of smoke is on someone after they have just had one.
So as you can see, all of these tips are totally actionable and are in no way over the top. Please don't let your personal presentation be the thing that holds you back from securing your dream job! As I mentioned, a well-polished presentation will not only impact upon the interviewer, but it can also significantly improve your own self-confidence. Present your best self for the best result.