Even for the coolest of people, looking for a job in the current economic conditions can be scary. You can easily feel like “just a number” out there with many others. What can you do to set yourself apart from the crowd? Following are some behaviors to keep in mind that can give you an edge in landing a new position. This article is the second in a series reviewing “must do” behaviors to be mastered in the interview process.
Clean-up your act. This is a controversial area, but like it or not, a good part of the impression an interviewer first forms of you depends on how you’re dressed. All protests aside about not “judging a book by its cover,” or comments about personal freedom to express yourself, appearance still counts in an interview. Wear a nice suit or whatever is considered better than normally appropriate dress for that job or business. Even if you know the work place to be a casual environment, I believe it is OK to dress-up anyway for interviews. By wearing clothes that are coordinated, clean and pressed, it is one more way for you to show interest and that you want the job. Would you send Professional resumes printed on a wrinkled old sheet of paper? Many job candidates believe they are not being true to themselves if they dress differently at an interview versus any other day. But if the way you dress improves your odds of being hired, then why not?
Hair. Another long-time area of conflict is facial hair. Though beards are popular and more accepted on men of all ages, I still see surveys of hiring managers indicating a bias toward the clean shaven.
Body art. And though tattoos and various body piercing are now mainstream and at the height of popularity, they too can be a point of bias on the part of interviewers. Therefore, my recommendation is that all body art should be covered and all visible body piercing removed (with the exception of earrings on women). One caveat on earrings on women is that they should be restricted to one per ear. If the position requires you to represent the company to customers and/or the general public, the hiring company has a right to set policy regarding display of these things post-hire anyway.
Meet and greet. Next, treat everyone you encounter as a potential interviewer. Many hiring managers (self included), have asked everyone interacting with a candidate, from the administrative staff to members of their department, for feedback on a prospective employee. So smile, and be pleasant toward all of those you meet and curb the tendency to focus only on those who are perceived to be the hiring managers. You never know whether a seemingly small event outside of the interview will be noticed and reported and potentially make the difference (examples: loudly using cell phone in waiting area versus quietly using the time to prepare or relax).
Put your best foot forward in the interview, and “dress for success.” You will be glad you did.