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Dressing for Successful Job Interviews
by: Scott Brown
The first thing an interviewer will notice about you is how you're dressed. Even before you say hello or shake their hand, they are starting to form an impression of you based on your appearance. This week's job searching tip deals with making sure you are dressed properly for interviews.

It's estimated that people gain meaning more from non-verbal cues in conversations than from the actual words exchanged. Therefore, how you present yourself in an interview will have a significant impact on how the interviewer perceives you. If you're applying for a job as a manager, the interviewer will be trying to decide how you would be perceived by subordinates and other managers. Basically, they're asking themselves, "would this person fit in?" One way to figure out how best to dress to fit in would be to visit the company ahead of time for some "surveillance" work. If you hang around outside the company's parking lot, you could observe how most people dress there. Of course it's best not to be conspicuous - if the interviewer saw you hanging around their parking lot a few days earlier, they might think you're strange!

There are some basic rules that everyone should follow when going on a job interview:
- Your goal should be to look clean, healthy and successful
- Make sure you don't have bad breath. Nobody wants to work with someone who smells bad.
- On the other hand, don't overdo it with aftershave/perfume.
- Always err on the side of conservatism. Men should wear conservative ties for interviews and women should opt for a more conservative blouse
- Your hair should be clean and neat
- Your nails should be clean and a reasonable length
- Women should wear tan or light hosiery.

If you know people who work in a similar company (or the same company) in the same location, talk to them about how people dress for work. Especially if you are moving from another part of the country. For example, lawyers in California often dress a bit more casually and wear less conservative ties than lawyers in New York.

Be sure to follow rules of etiquette when on the interview itself. Give the interviewer a chance to offer you a seat. If you're wearing a suit jacket, don't take it off in the interview. Remember, an interview is partly a formality. Especially if the interviewer is a human resources person or other staff member who is not very familiar with your field, you may be judged much more on your appearance and how well you conform to the "picture" of what a good interviewee should be like than on the content of what you say in the interview.

A great movie about creating the right appearance is the recent Steven Spielberg film, "Catch Me If You Can," which starred Leonardo Di Caprio. In the movie, which is based on a true story, Di Caprio plays a con artist and counterfeiter named Frank Abignale, Jr. Frank is able to work as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer all because he is able to come across like he fits in. Even though he was only 16, he knew enough to do his research ahead of time and create the right appearance. One of the great lines in the movie is when Frank says to the detective trying to catch him, "Why do you think the Yankees always win? Is it because of Mickey Mantle? No, it's because everyone's busy watching the pinstripes."

About the Author

Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook ( As editor of the weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.


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