Do your looks matter when applying for jobs? The short answer is yes. Your appearance should matter very little when your skills and capabilities match the job requirements but unfortunately, that is not always the case when it comes to hiring.
Apart from your experience and skills, how you appear to the hiring managers is important in determining your first impression. Granted, how you look will not necessarily make or break your ability to secure the job but it can ease the process and help you stand out as a candidate. When you are in the process of job hunting, every little bit counts towards your chances at landing the job.
How you dress, behave and groom yourself instantly feeds into the hiring manager’s judgment of you as an individual, or more importantly, a potential employee. It gives the hiring manager a glimpse into your judgement abilities – whether you are aware of the appropriate dress code for the industry you are applying into.
Presenting yourself professionally is one way to impress your hiring managers before any discussion begins. Groom yourself to be interview-ready in 3 steps.
1. Comply With Dress Codes
Showing up to an interview dressed appropriately demonstrates the effort that you have put into your appearance. Job interviews alone are stressful enough when you have to think about what you are going to say and how you will manage challenging questions. Thinking about what to wear to an interview can be stressful when the industry you are applying for is not a typically corporate environment. Depending on where your job interview is, your outfit can range from business casual to business formal types.
Even if you might be interviewing at a company where employees dress down daily, it is always a good idea to dress a bit more professionally than the average employee in the company. Spend some time preparing your outfit a day before the interview by picking out clothes that fit you well, complies with the dress code and is free of wrinkles.
If you are unsure of the dress code at the company you are interviewing at, it is best to err on the safe side and dress formally.
2. Groom Yourself
Grooming yourself is just as important as dressing appropriately for the interview. Paying special attention to your hair, nails, makeup, and scent can help you to look polished on the whole. First impressions last long and are often difficult to change in the first meeting. Thus, the impression you initially make in your interview is often the one that will go into consideration along with your answers post-interview.
Your nails might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about all the other factors that go into preparation prior to an interview. Keeping your nails groomed will help you project a more professional image. If you do wear nail polish, sticking to neutral colours will keep you looking professional.
Messy hair will distract your interviewers from paying attention to your answers during the interview. For short hair, it is best brushed away from your face. Long hair should be styled minimally and kept simple to avoid shifting the focus away from your interview.
Styling your hair and keeping it fresh goes to show the effort and initiative taken to look good for the interview. Avoid wearing your hair wet to the interview so that you do not give off the impression of being in a hurry or ill-prepared.
C. Makeup and Accessories
For women who typically wear makeup daily, it is best to keep it light and neutral. Avoiding bold colours will help you maintain the focus on your interview instead of your appearance. Moisturising your face is recommended if you have flaky or dry skin. With regards to makeup looks for an interview, it is best to only remedy the areas that could potentially be distracting or noticeable. A little bit of concealer goes a long way in hiding dark undereye circles, helping you look fresh for the interview. Although bold and bright colours are beautiful, they might work better for casual settings as opposed to an interview.
Likewise, keep accessorising to a minimum. Wearing a watch, bracelet or wedding ring are generally acceptable accessories but stacking your accessories will take away the look of professionalism. Your personality should show through your answers instead of the accessories you wear. The goal is to look professional, not trendy or edgy.
3. Display Positive Body Language
Despite your best intentions, crossing your arms or looking elsewhere during an interview can send the wrong message across. How you look during an interview counts for more than just physical appearance. The manner in which you carry yourself influences the impression you give off as well.
Having good posture even before you meet your interviewer is important because your potential co-workers might be observing you. Nail biting, knuckle cracking, hair twirling and leg tapping are all habits that can lead you to come across as a fidgety individual. These habits portray you as a distracted and nervous individual.
Sitting up straight, keeping your palms open and maintaining a good measure of eye contact are effective in sending across the right signals, in the right amount. Steering clear of extremes is a considerably good rule to keep in mind.
Marketing yourself well – both on paper and in person – gives off the right signals to your interviewer. A polished and sharp appearance goes a long way in convincing your interviewer that you have put in effort and are taking the opportunity for the interview seriously.