Get yourself dressed in whatever job search clothing you plan on wearing and look at yourself in the mirror. In the privacy of your own home, this is the time to cast a critical eye over what you see and note things to address.
This is a good first step whether you are young or old; and age is only one factor you’re assessing in your outfit. This is also a good activity if you are checking to see what message your choice of clothes and how they fit on your body send. You might be in the right clothes but wear them poorly or fit them perfectly but be outdated.
Start at your head and work your way on down to your shoes. A full length mirror is obviously the best option here so you can get the entire view and the image it conveys. This is after all the look you plan on giving to the interviewer and/or other employees in companies you wish to work. You’re not only assessing your own personal look but also how well you align yourself with the other people who work there.
So how’s your hair? Whether you have a little or a full head of hair, it should be clean and groomed. Keep in mind that in the confines you are doing this exercise, there is no wind or breeze like you might encounter on the way to the interview. What will it look like once you get where you’re going? A good general rule is to ensure hair is off your face, so long-haired men and ladies should ensure no bangs hang over the eyes; you’ll only end up flipping it over with a toss of your head or with a hand; and this isn’t a Hollywood beauty shot. For guys specifically, make sure you clear up the scruff and stubble that you can’t see in the mirror that inevitably grows on the sides and rear out of your normal view. Trim facial hair.
As for your face, trim the nose hairs. Gross but give it a look. If you apply makeup, apply it in moderation with good taste (unfortunately this isn’t common sense). Moderation might mean less than you would normally. You want to impress them with your answers not distract them with so much makeup they wonder if you’re being authentic in other ways in addition to the makeup you’re hiding behind.
Speaking of hiding, and honesty is the best policy here, don’t expose your cleavage in an interview. Many employers I speak with – both men and women by the way – tell me that they frown overexposed cleavage. They wonder what you’ll dress like once hired, and having a discussion about exposing breasts is one they want to avoid so the easiest thing to do is not select the candidate in the first place. Too bad too, because some potentially good candidates don’t move on to the final job selection stage and are never told why.
If the job you are interviewing for has you wearing a tie, give it a look over too. Can you tie a knot or do you loosen it up just enough to pull it over your head? If you do, it isn’t looking as crisp as you think it is. Invest the 15 minutes it takes to learn how to dress yourself.
Look at your shirt with a focus on the buttons. If you see exposed skin where you shouldn’t it could be that either the shirt is too small or the fit for your frame is wrong. Be it the chest or the stomach, an ill-fitting top which exposes the flesh isn’t you at your best. Go to a clothing store with knowledgeable sales staff and get a proper fit.
Look at your sleeves with your arms at both sides. If you’re wearing a long sleeve outfit, do the sleeves extend past your wrists or possibly end too far up your forearm? When wearing a jacket over a shirt or blouse, it’s tasteful to have a little of the sleeve visible beyond the jacket cuffs.
As for the waistline, I know this is a sensitive area to talk about, however, you are looking with a critical eye. If you are overweight you can opt to lose some but that may be a long-term goal. For now, get into the right sizes and you’ll eliminate or reduce belt lines that roll over and outward, shirts that pull out of your pants or having to wear shirts over your pants. Many pants and belts now have flex capabilities, adjusting as you do.
Your socks typically match your clothing colours, although there is a current trend to wearing brightly coloured ones. Know the culture of wear you’re headed and take your cues from the workplace.
As for footwear, make sure you can walk, sit and stand comfortably in whatever you wear. Open-toed footwear is perfect for many things but an interview isn’t typically one of them. Whatever footwear you put on, ensure it’s clean and if leather, polished.
Clean your teeth, freshen your breath, remember the deodorant and pass on fragrances altogether. Clothing always looks better if ironed or pressed and check your clothing for animal hairs, lint, stains and odours if you’ve worn them previously – especially if you smoke.
Finally, smile! “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”