Dress to impress

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By Raylyn Rollins

By Raylyn Rollins

One of the biggest pitfalls many college students face when going in for an interview is choice of wardrobe.

As much as some would love to admit that clothes and appearance have no influence on whether or not they get the job, the truth is that many times they have a huge impact.

Clothing is a big part of the interview – it can make or break the chances of getting a job.

Because an employer’s first impression is a good indicator to the customer’s first impression, dressing to impress is crucial. This means dressing professionally and presenting yourself maturely.

Clothing and appearance show a potential employer how serious someone is about the job. If a job candidate dresses sharply, the employer is many times more willing to give the person a chance.

“If you dress intimidating and sharp, you can score so many points that other facts can be overlooked,” said Kim Eriksson, employer and regional manager of AmuseMatte Corporation.

Even if you flub your words or go blank for a moment, the fact that you are dressed professionally may make the employer overlook mistakes and still consider you for the job.

Perhaps even more importantly, dressing professionally can leave a lasting impression on any potential employer.

According to Eriksson, when it comes down to a couple of worthy candidates for one position, oftentimes the one who was dressed well for the interview will ultimately get the position.

Dressing professionally is not necessarily difficult. Men can get away with wearing slacks, a dress shirt and nice shoes with hair neatly combed.

Women have more options when it comes to dress and appearance, but this also means more pitfalls to watch out for. But, above all, dress conservatively. After all, dressing too risqué has the potential to offend an employer.

Eriksson advices that women’s clothing choices should be classy and sophisticated, with a nice blouse paired with a skirt or dress pants.

Careerbuilder.com offers the following advice for interviews:

First, tops should not be too revealing. This means stay away from plunging necklines, halter tops and sleeveless numbers. Shoulders are rarely appropriate in a business setting, so show them off with discretion.

Second, although pants are acceptable, if the interview calls for a skirt, make sure it is knee length or thereabouts. A mini-skirt may send the wrong impression to an employer. Always pick a skirt that accentuates the body and will look pleasing, something too tight may make a woman look silly while something too large can make a woman look frumpy.

When picking an outfit, modesty is key. If you would be nervous wearing an outfit in front of your grandmother, do not wear it to an interview. It may be the essence of style and fashion, but that does not make it appropriate. After all, if people cannot understand why Mary-Kate Olsen dresses in rags, an employer may not be able to understand your outfit either. To each his own – it is best to play it safe.

Next, to polish off the “professional look,” makeup should be light – do not overdo it. Heavy foundation, lip liner or overly bold eye shadow may give off a message of immaturity.

Another helpful hint is to dress in neutral colors. This means rather than something bright and sparkly, dress in browns, blacks and subtle colors.

Loud colors tend to make a person look younger and more immature. Neutral colors are much more pleasing to the eye and have a calming effect in any setting, as opposed to bright colors which can put a person on edge.

According to the University of Michigan, while brown is a calming color, red can be associated with anger and vengeance. A green color can show defensiveness while white can say innocence. Color can be very important psychologically in an interview.

Be careful, though, do not mistake professional for formal, as it is possible to overdress for an interview. Women should refrain from wearing a full dress, while men might be overdone in a suit. Dressing too formally may look silly and may not give the best first impression.

When it comes to fragrance, Careerbuilder.com suggests go light on the perfume or cologne. What may be a pleasant smell to some may put others on edge or give them the sniffles – definitely two pitfalls in an interview.

Perhaps the most controversial part of appearance is what to do with tattoos and piercings. After all, they are there to make a statement and covering them defeats their purpose. However, men should take out all of their piercings, while women should take out all but one on each ear.

Tattoos need to be covered, which can be easily done by wearing long sleeves.

Although tattoos and piercings are much more commonplace now then in years before, people still make judgments on them, according to Eriksson.

College students should dress to look older and play it safe on any potentially questionable aspect of appearance.

Even the smallest attention to detail may turn an interview into a job, and just in case dressing the part may not be enough, Eriksson offers his suggestions for success.

Be sure to keep eye contact with the interviewer and do not fidget. A majority of communication is nonverbal, so behavior and appearance is crucial

However, just relax and always look at an interview as a chance to improve.

Interviews are not always as simple as going in and getting a job. Dressing for success can be a major factor in getting that coveted job, and although the clothes may be uncomfortable or uncommon, “there’s no downside to dressing well,” Eriksson said.

An interview is obviously important. While it is crucial stand out and be memorable, being overly flashy may give the wrong impression. Dressing to impress grabs attention and can have positive results.

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