On paper Joy is the perfect candidate. She has all of the credentials the company looks for in a candidate. She has aced her phone interview with her pleasant personality and thoughtful answers. As she walks into her first face-to-face interview with the company, her flip flops smack across the tile floor while she adjusts the strap on her loose fitted tank top. The hiring manager notices the rips in Joy’s jeans as they exchange a weak handshake. Despite Joy’s impeccable resume, she has already blown her chance to make a good first impression on the hiring manager and probably already lost the job.
Many applicants wonder, “What should I wear to an interview?” Whether the interview is in the Drake & Company office or a potential employer’s office, an applicant’s first impression can mean everything. Hiring managers look not only at an applicant’s background and experience, but also an applicant’s appearance and body language during an interview.
An applicant should walk into each interview well-groomed wearing clean, professional clothes. Not every industry requires a suit, but it does not hurt to be overdressed rather than underdressed when making an important first impression. Even if a place of business has a casual dress code, demonstrating professionalism separates one candidate from the next one. Prior to an interview, spend some time researching the industry to gain sense of what is appropriate attire.
Each detail of an applicant’s attire should be viewed through a professional eye. Pressed, clean clothes are a must, but dress shoes are also important. A new suit does not look as sharp with a pair of old tennis shoes. Other items such as accessories, make-up and perfume or cologne should be kept to a minimum. A heavy watch or oversized bracelet that knocks against the table during an interview can distract a hiring manager from your qualifications.
While what applicants wear to an interview is important, body language is just as vital to making a good first impression. Good posture, a firm handshake and eye contact demonstrate the confidence hiring managers look for in candidates.
Candidates do not get a second chance to make that important first impression on a hiring manager. Often that first impression will make or break a candidate’s chances of being hired for a position. In Joy’s case, she could have landed the job if she had viewed the interview with professional consideration. So, save the flip flops and tank tops for casual weekends at home, in exchange for a look that will make a top-notch impression at the next interview.
Stephanie Beirne Leuer is the Marketing Coordinator for Drake & Company, a staffing firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Drake & Company specializes in temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire administrative, clerical and legal placements. For more than 36 years, Drake has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match candidate personalities with a company’s culture. You can connect with Stephanie by email, and you can find Drake & Company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.