Does Your Appearance Affect Your Interview?

by Marcianne Kuethen
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When you’re preparing to be interviewed by a prospective employer, does your appearance affect your interview? There are many ways to prepare for an interview, such as researching the company and practicing behavioral interview questions. These are important aspects of your preparation. And ideally, your interviewer shouldn’t be heavily influenced by how you look. But let’s face it–we’re all human, including hiring managers and HR staff. We tend to make snap judgments about others based simply on what we see.

How You Look

When you’re about to be interviewed, there’s no substitute for making a great first impression. That largely depends upon your appearance, which includes both what you put on your body–clothes, makeup, hygiene–and how you use your body to project who you really are.

Psychologists have proven that you have 20-32 seconds to make a first impression, whether good or negative, according to Chron.com. No matter how hard an interviewer may try to be neutral, your attire plays a significant role in whether you’ll pass muster.

How You Dress

But what you should wear to your job interview really depends on the job you’re applying for, the company culture, and the industry at large, advises Bret Silverberg of Monster, a job board for career seekers.  The experts, says Silverberg, recommend dressing a notch or two more formally than what the employees at the company wear every day to work. Employers do judge a book by its cover and will be nudged toward one candidate’s better appearance if all else seems equal.

But also be practical, advises Indeed.com. Select attire that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Choose garments that are suitable for the climate and season. Make sure they aren’t revealing, wrinkled, stained, snagged, full of holes, or covered in pet hairs. Use good judgment but don’t overthink it. Go to the company’s social media site to learn how employees dress there.

Although every expert says something a little different, here’s a general description of the range of clothing you may wear to an interview:

Casual–For men, dark jeans or slacks, button down shirt or polo (men), any neat and clean closed-toe shoes; for women, dark jeans with blouse and cardigan, or knee-length skirt with blouse or button-down shirt, with either flats or high heels.

Business casual–“Slacks or khakis, dress shirt or blouse, open-collar or polo shirt, optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a dress or skirt at knee-length or below, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover all or most of the foot,” says BusinessInsider.com.

Professional–Dark is in! For women, dark suit consisting of a tailored dress, skirt, or pants with matching jacket. For men, dark suit of matching pants and jacket with button-down shirt and tie.

For more visual help, search the Internet for images of the category of dress that fits your potential employer. If you’re ever in doubt about what attire is appropriate for an interview, ask your recruiter for advice.

How You Feel

Would you believe that what you wear can cheer you up, make you lose weight, and make you want to exercise? If so, what does that have to do with interviewing for a job?

In a study quoted by Reader’s Digest, researchers discovered that clothing really does affect how people feel and act in certain situations. For instance, dressing up can make you feel more powerful and in control of the situation. What you wear can also help you think better, act smarter, and focus longer.

If you’re about to negotiate salary with your interviewer, note this finding from the study: People who dressed in a suit, a pair of sweats, or their own clothing “were then put in a scenario where they had to negotiate. The people who were dressed better routinely trumped those who were dressed down.”

Does Your Appearance Affect Your Interview?

The research has proven that how you dress will affect the outcome of your interview. What you wear affects both how others perceive you and how you act, think, and feel about yourself. So before your next interview, figure out what attire is appropriate and what will help you look and feel your best. If the research is right, you’ll begin your next interview with an advantage before you say a word.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board for professional and technical jobs while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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