With the advent of technology and rocket surge proliferation of social media, real life communication has reduced drastically and our sense of entitlement has increased. With knowledge and digital communication at our fingertips, we have come to expect knowledge without seeking it out. While looking for information has never been easier, our thirst for it has almost ironically been reduced. And with that, the interview has almost become a lost art. What used to give a man the opportunity to showcase his eagerness and smarts to win over a prospective employer has now turned into a ‘what’s in it for me’ endeavor, where our attitudes in the interview room have become largely emblematic of our daily lifestyles. So let’s throw all that aside and get back to engaging in interview etiquette and behavior that our fathers and grandfathers would have been proud of!
The interview is, without a doubt, the time to make the best possible impression. This is your chance to not only demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the business area that you are applying to, but to also show your interpersonal skills, and as an extension of that, how presentable and well dressed you are. Remember – in the corporate world, as is often the case in life, perception is reality, and so being dressed meticulously with attention to color coordination and a well groomed package will demonstrate to your potential employer both consciously and subconsciously how well you have your stuff together! And of course that’s what we all want to show! Remember, interviewers expect interviewees to adhere to certain dress protocols in order for you to pass the ‘presentability’ test.
While you may have the requisite knowledge for the job and a deep desire to be part of a bigger team within this fantastic corporate umbrella, please remember that all of that cannot overshadow being poorly presented and dressed. While you may choose to dress down for a less formal Silicon Valley job, it is safe to assume that you want to dress one notch more formal than is standard dress protocol for the job that you are interviewing for. With that being said, let’s look at what one should take into account for the big day:
Suits – While Black can be worn to black tie events and more somber events, you want to reserve your grey suit or navy blue suit for an interview. Remember to button your suit when you enter the interview room, even though you ideally want to unbutton it once you have sat down. Button it back up on the way out of the interview room
Overall Dress – A general rule of thumb is that a minimum of one pattern and two solids look appropriate for an interview. Two patterns and a solid can also work, as long as the shirt or tie are not too loud. To detract from being too loud, you generally want to go with conservative ties that are solids, striped or have smaller patterns in them. The tie should be long enough to reach your belt buckle.
Socks should match your suit, and not allow any skin to show when you cross your legs! Trousers should be long enough to cover your socks, and cuffs always demonstrated a polished, gentleman like look. To be conservative, its best to have the color of your socks match those of your shoes.
As for your shoes, they can really demonstrate your attention to detail and are often one of the most important fashion indicators. With a charcoal grey suit, you can opt for black or brown laceups, and with a navy blue, go for brown laceups!
Before the interview – practice. If you are not used to being in this type of setting and wearing a suit, do a mock interview (fully dressed up with a necktie on!) the day before in front of the mirror or with a friend.
Read up on the Company that you are applying to. Read up on the position and the specific day to day tasks that the position requires. Once you have digested all this information, try and formulate intelligent, well thought-out questions that you can ask your employer.
The night before your interview, have your suit, shirt and pants ironed and laid out, along with your matching socks and polished shoes. Have a few copies of your resume inside a folder in the event that the headhunter or corporate executive you are meeting with does not have one on file.
On the day of the interview, get a clean shave and show up slightly early. It’s always best to enter an interview room with poise than having rushed there – common sense but it’s amazing how often we forget these little things when acting under pressure!
During the Interview – now it’s time to make an impression – take a deep breath immediately before entering the room.
- Shake the interviewers hand with a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, introduce yourself and smile. A good smile will project that you are both relaxed and confident, which is an attitude everyone loves, not just a prospective employer!
- Answer questions as they are asked. Don’t interrupt when the interviewer is speaking, and when you respond, speak at a moderate pace.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know it. Nothing turns off a prospective employer more than a false sense of bravado and a clear sense of BS!
- If you need time to figure out the answer to a question, there is nothing wrong with telling the interviewer you need a minute or two to think about it. Keep your head down if need be, and calmly work through the solution in your head. Sometimes, even if you don’t have the full solution to a technical question, you can say that you have not arrived at the answer but believe that you have the necessary starting steps. More often than not, the prospective employer will encourage you along the way – it’s not usually about the end result but the thought process and determination involved that will impress your prospective employer
- As the interview concludes, you will be directed by the interviewer to ask any questions that you may have. Now is the time to consider asking the questions you have come up with during your interview preparation. Avoid asking questions that the employer has obviously alluded to during the interview. If you are completely stuck, a good question to usually ask is “After how long in this role will I be provided with the opportunity to take on more responsibility” – this shows determination and the desire to grow within the Company. It is also a fairly simple and open ended question that will allow the interviewer flexibility in the way he / she answers the question. Remember that when asking the interviewer questions, refrain from asking questions that seem arrogant. Keep the questions simple but ones that indicate your willingness to learn, work with colleagues and desire to grow within the company.
After the interview – Send a thank you / follow up letter to the interviewer, allowing you to restate your interest in the position, where you think your strengths can fit in with the needs of the role, and mention anything of relevance that you may have hiccupped upon during the interview process. Avoid emails as a follow up if you can as chances are your prospective employer’s inbox is flooded on a daily basis. A letter mailed to his / her address will most definitely leave a lasting impression.
Remember, luck is where preparation meets opportunity. So once you’ve done your part, sit back and focus on other areas of your life. You’ve put what you could into the interview process, from preparation all the way through to the interview follow up. Pat yourself on the back and relax for a bit!
Categories: Dressing for interviews