Over the years at the Better Business Bureau, I’ve had the opportunity to interview candidates for positions, and it never fails to surprise me how unprepared some are in both their appearance and their knowledge of the organization.
I suspect that I am not alone in this area. Often we talk to businesses that are having difficulty finding people to hire, despite the fact that unemployment is still high.
So how can you improve your chances of being hired? Here are a few suggestions that may assist you in your future interviews.
First, appearances mean everything. The workplace has indeed loosened its dress code, but that does not mean you should assume anything goes in an interview. This is where research helps. Find out in advance what the company expects in terms of personal appearance.
We have posted job listings that stated up front, “professional business dress required,” only to have people show up in midriff exposing halter tops and cut off jean shorts.
Unless you know that is what the company expects you to wear, it’s better to err on the side of being conservative. Suits for men or women are still fine for office interviews. Or you may wear a nice pair of slacks with a blouse or sweater or shirt and tie. At the least, a pair of khakis with a polo style shirt for men (and in some offices that would be considered too casual).
Clothes should be neat, clean and wrinkle free.
Shoes should be that, no beach or “thong” sandals for men or women; tennis shoes and work boot styles should also be avoided. Shoes should be polished and free from disrepair.
Heavy, theatrical makeup is usually not acceptable. Also, heavy fragrances should be avoided. On the initial interview, multiple piercings (outside of earlobes) should be concealed as well as tattoos until you are aware of the company’s policy regarding such.
Research all that you can about the company and the position for which you are interviewing. Being able to understand and talk about the company’s goals and mission statements will impress the interviewer. Line up your qualifications and explain how they will fit with the position being offered. Come prepared with questions relating to the position.
Turn off your cell phone and do not text or even glance at it during the interview. Shake the interviewer’s hand when meeting and again when leaving. Look the person directly in the eyes and answer questions honestly. Sit up straight; do not slump or slouch in the chair. Keep hands neatly folded in lap or relaxed on chair arms; do not twirl rings, hair, or pick at fingernails. Do not chew gum. Smile and be friendly. Do not act bored (even if you are).
Some questions/statements to avoid at the initial interview: (and yes, we’ve heard them all!)
- When will I get to boss others?
- Can my boyfriend/girlfriend come to visit?
- How long is my lunch hour?
- I don’t like supervision, can I work alone?
- Can I wear sweat pants/shorts?
If there is a good reason for some of the questions, like a child care issue that affects your lunch hour, then fine, explain it when asking.
When the interview is concluded, thank the interviewer for their time and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them. It’s also a good idea to send a follow-up thank you note afterwards. It will keep you fresh in the mind of the interviewer.
Use every interview to put these suggestions into practice. You will continue to polish your skills and be a great candidate for the right position.
For more information, contact your BBB at 812-473-0202.
*This article was written for and appeared in the Evansville Courier & Press, Business Section, July 13, 2014.