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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Mastering the Interview “Look”

The way we dress and look has a tremendous impact on people. The time-tested adage-you only have one chance to make a first impression, is directly applicable to your job interview. Carefully choose your clothing, which should be conservative and in most cases a business suit. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level up from the job you seek-this is because you want to be perceived as serious, professional, and ambitious.

Here is the nitty-gritty of creating the right image:

1. Wear well-fitting clothing of high quality and make sure it is clean and wrinkle free.

2. If you typically wear cologne or perfume, do not apply it heavily on the day of your interview. At two-feet away, which is the closest your interviewer will get to you, he or she should not be able to detect your fragrance. Remember, you are interested in a job, not a date.

3. Your hair should be clean, neat, and stylish. Women with long hair need to keep it out of their eyes-and not by continually touching it. Men with facial hair should consider removing it as a clean-shaven look is always preferred in the business world.

4. Men and women should limit the amount of jewelry they wear. Bold jewelry is a definite mistake.

5. Make sure your hands and fingernails are clean. The most professional and serious look for a woman is rather short nails and no polish or a light, sheer nail polish.

6. Shoes should be in mint condition. Clean and polish them the night before your interview. Regardless of the season, closed-toe shoes are mandatory for women, as are pantyhose.

7. Women should wear make-up but keep it to a minimum.

8. For men, appropriate colors for your suit include, brown, navy blue, black, and all shades of grey. Charcoal grey looks good on every man and is the hands-down favorite. Brown suits are more commonly worn by men in the Midwest. Black may look out of place in the summer months. Women have a wider latitude of colors for their clothing, however, they too should pay attention to the season when selecting the color of their suit.

9. Most candidates, both men and women, should carry a briefcase or leather/leather-like portfolio containing extra résumés, a list of references, paper, and pen.

10. Check your appearance immediately before entering the building. Are your teeth clean? Is your hair in place? Is your tie straight?

11. Double check to make sure your cell phone is completely turned off prior to entering the building.

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