Interviewing in style

Posted on: 4th April, 2016

Category: Image

Contributor: Louise O'Dwyer

You would be amazed at how many ‘fail’ an interview based on the fact that ‘first impressions do last’. I’m in the ‘image’ business and I cannot stress enough the importance of making a very good visual first impression. ‘You can have anything that you want in life if you dress for it…’

The current economic climate, with fewer jobs and more applicants for each position, requires job seekers to have impeccable interviewing skills. Women, however, can make particular missteps — from talking too much to dressing inappropriately — that hurt their chances or cost them the job. Since first impressions have a lasting impact, women ‘need’ to choose their interview outfits wisely. A mistake made here leaves you starting off at a severe disadvantage — something that you really do ‘not’ need and something that can be so easily avoided. Be visually mature and elegant.

1. A common mistake women can make is ‘appearing too flashy’ — wearing too much make-up or showing too much skin can damage an applicant’s chances for employment. I sat on an interview panel recently with two men; the woman being interviewed had laboriously created two fluffy caterpillars on her forehead to be passed off as eyebrows — all three of us were captivated by them, as they moved up and down when she spoke. Unfortunately the candidate captivated us less so and was not shortlisted for a second interview.

2. While I love introducing colour into an outfit, when it comes to ‘interview attire’, I suggest that you wear sharp and ‘sedate’ colours like navy blue, dark grey or black. Always keep jewellery to an absolute minimum, especially if nervous fingers need something to ‘fiddle with’. If you are wearing a white blouse, then make sure that you don’t put make-up on or any where near your neck — as a woman I understand that it’s a make-up stain on your blouse collar but to a man it just looks like a ‘dirty collar’! Sometimes it might serve you better to wear a smart top under your jacket that is collarless, so then you don’t need to worry.

3. Keep make-up light and fresh, no strong lipstick ‘ever’ — no matter how good it looks on you. If you insist on wearing eyeshadow, go with a very ‘subtle’ shade. Under no circumstances do you ever use ‘shimmery’ make-up or bronzing powder or eyeshadow, save the ‘sparkles’ for your fun night out, they just don’t work in a serious environment.

4. Keep your hemline long — while you may have the most amazing legs this is ‘not’ the time to show them off. I always suggest that while you are investigating the company, you also have a good look at their ‘dress-code’ — it will make life so much easier for you!

5. Heels on shoes should be ‘just enough’ to give a lift without adding a ‘wobble’. If you are more comfortable in ‘flats’, go for it, but wear a really nice pair. Always carry a second pair of interview-appropriate shoes in your car or your bag (if they will fit) — you would not believe some of the catastrophes that can happen on the way to an interview; I have seen it all at this stage! Good preparation and ‘doubling up’ will avoid a hell of a lot of fluster and stress.

6. While I know that an interview can be extremely stressful for some people, and if you are a smoker, then you will naturally have a cigarette before you head in, however I’d suggest that you mentally prepare yourself ‘not’ to smoke until you come out — no amount of perfume or body lotion or gum or mouthwash can mask the smell, particularly if you face an interview panel of non-smokers.

7. Perfume is supposed to be subtle, it is supposed to be aromatic and not ‘choking’. Be careful about how much you apply or better still, just use a nice shower gel or body lotion, less pungent and ‘one man’s pearl can make another man sick’. DON’T EVER FORGET THAT!

8. Of course everyone is nervous in an interview setting and many of you will dread that initial handshake, as your poor nervous hands might be a tad clammy. A great remedy for this is to find a mint hand cream, its cooling effect will effectively reduce how much your hands sweat, leaving you to concentrate on what is coming out of your mouth, not your hands.

9. Rescue remedy can be a great way to calm nerves — the only problem I have found is that it can potentially make your breath smell like you have had an alcoholic drink, so be careful. I always suggest the homeopathic remedy ‘Aconite’, which is wonderful for shortterm anxiety, stress or panic, great for interviews, exams and whatever else that life might vomit on top of you!

10. I could talk the hind legs off of a donkey or three, but I do know that there are times when you simply must ‘keep it to a minimum’. Women have a tendency to waffle during interviews, they ‘over-explain’ themselves and feel the need to give ‘too many examples’; more often than not they will keep talking, waiting for the interviewer to interrupt them, rather than knowing when to finish speaking themselves. Men, on the other hand, can give the same amount of information in one or two short sentences. What I suggest that you do is to write out what you need to ‘get said’ in an interview, then get a highlighter and highlight only the important bits — rewrite out only the important bits. It might seem like you are getting rid of lots of information but if an interviewer wants you to expand on anything then they will ask you.

11. Do your research, be prepared and ‘believe in yourself’, you would be amazed at the number of women who put themselves forward for positions that require a certain ‘steadfastness’ and an enormous amount of confidence, yet will ‘shake like a leaf’ at an interview. ‘Aconite’ can really help with this, but I also recommend that on the morning of the interview, you do something that scares you. In my case that would be to pick up a spider — then whatever comes after will be a ‘piece of cake’. You might be ‘perfect’ for the job and you need to get that across during the interview so park your nerves at the door (in fact, it has been proven that if you mentally parcel up your nerves into a ball and place that ball somewhere before you go into your interview, ‘it does work’ — the funny thing about it is that nobody seems to remember to pick up their imaginary ball on the way out!

12. You look amazing; you know what you need to know. You are moving forward and stepping up to the challenge. Now all that you have to do is to ‘show them’.

I simply had to share all of this information with you — I am always meeting clients who get overwhelmed when it comes to the whole interview process. Life is not about ‘staying put’ or ‘playing it safe’, life is about moving forward, even if it is a little scary or challenging at times. You might think that it is easier to stay in ‘that same old job for years’, even though your inner voice is screaming. You might have convinced yourself that you have nothing else to offer. I read a book many years ago called Feel the fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers, a great title and a great message. It is our ‘self-limiting beliefs’ that can trap us in the mundane; it is our fear that can block us from so many wonderful opportunities in life. I embrace the fear in life, how about you?    

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