Interview Tips for the Graduate: Mastering Your First Career Level Job Interview Packing for College – The 4-Box Challenge
Jun 21

Getting ready for an all-important interview can make you nervous. You have a crisp copy of your resume and references printed and ready to go. Now your mind turns to the interview… One of the best ways of calm nerves and boosting chances of being hired is dressing for success.

What exactly does that mean? It means going to your interview dressed in clothes you would wear to work at the job for which you are interviewing. It means making certain that those clothes are clean, pressed, and appropriately coordinated and accessorized, and that you yourself are immaculately groomed.

The key phrase here is “dressed appropriately for the job for which you are interviewing.” Unless you’re applying for an executive position, don’t assume that means a business suit. A young woman with a brand new degree in veterinary medicine went to apply to work at a veterinary office owned by a vet who had been very supportive of this young woman’s career choice. The new graduate assumed she should wear her best bib and tucker, and so arrived for her interview in a gorgeous wool suit, silk blouse and high heels.

The strategy backfired when a client rushed in carrying a bleeding dog who needed immediate care. When the established vet asked the new grad to help, her reply was “I can’t. I don’t want to get my good clothes dirty.” Needless to say, the new grad was soon looking for employment elsewhere. Had she been wearing clothing appropriate for the work and demonstrated the necessary skills, she probably would have been hired immediately.

In addition to dressing for the work the job involves, err on the side of caution in clothing styles. Unless you’re applying for work for a fashion designer, high-end couture boutique or magazine like the one Meryl Streep immortalized in “The Devil Wears Prada?) it’s best to dress conservatively.

Every workplace tends to have its own style, and you should make a point of learning what that style looks like before you plan your interview outfit. For example, if you’re applying for work at a large company, you can check out what employees wear without even going inside—just pull into the parking lot five minutes before closing time and observe what people coming of the building are wearing. Dress accordingly for your interview and you’ll be dressing suitably.

Preparing your clothes for an interview means taking a head-to-toe inventory of the outfit you plan to wear. For heaven’s sake, don’t wait until the morning of your interview to do this! Pull your interview clothes out of the closet the day before. Once you feel certain the outfit is appropriate to the interview, go over every piece carefully. If you find any spots, stains, loose threads or missing buttons, correct this right away.

Again, unless you are applying for a job in an industry where radical chic and dramatic dressing are de rigeur, keep your grooming conservative as well. Nails should be relatively short, covered with clear polish and immaculately clean. Keep jewelry to the minimum and muted—no clanking bangle bracelets or dangling earrings, please. Be sure your shoes are be well polished.

The saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is hackneyed but absolutely true. Dressing appropriately for your job interview sends the message that you understand what will be expected of you and are prepared to deliver it.

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