By Huda Baak
Congratulations, you finally have that interview you’ve been waiting for! Now that the excitement has subsided, the nerves start kicking in. What do I wear, how do I come across, will they like me?
Let’s face it, we all want to be liked and admired. But during an interview, it’s more important to be respected and remembered. So how do you do that? How do you convey respect?
You can begin by answering these questions:
- Who is my target audience?
- What is my message?
- How do I want to be perceived?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- What time of day is the event?
- What’s the venue?
The answers to these questions will guide you as to what to wear and how to present yourself. Let’s say you’re interviewing for a management position in the hotel industry. Depending on the hotel you choose, the dress code could vary quite a bit. For example, are you were interviewing with a five-star luxury brand of hotels or a 2 star budget chain? Are they located in the heart of the financial district, or on a golf course? Are their clients high-end socialites or low key traveling guests that stay just the one night?
To gain the credibility, respect and trust of your interviewer you want to dress like them and their customers. So if it’s the financial district hotel, by all means dress in a suit. If it’s a more fun, glamorous property, then have your suit show more style or flair. Maybe add colored shoes, or a blouse or scarf that’s a bit trendy. remember that it is still an interview, and not a fashion show! But what I’m suggesting is to allow more of your personality to come through.
Now that you’ve identified your target, ask what’s your message? What do you want to say to these people? Naturally, for an interview, your message is to promote your skills and experience in a way that will set you apart from your competition, and get you hired. Once you master that, you’re ready to move on.
How do you want to be perceived? How do you want to be remembered? How would you like people to describe you? You can choose from these words and add more of your own: Trustworthy, professional, sharp, intelligent, efficient, authoritative, energetic, go-getter, assertive, approachable, creative, artistic, shrewd, proficient, stylish…
Now that you’ve picked your words, you’ll choose your wardrobe. If it’s classic style that you like, then stick to the basic suit and safe colors. If you’d like to make a bolder statement you can choose a suit that has bolder color (though typically not red for an interview), or unique accessories. Once again, I will caution you on wearing the bold South African necklace you picked up when you were on safari. That may be a bit too bold!
And finally, the time of day you meet and the venue will set the tone for your dress code. Are you meeting during the daytime at the office for your first interview, or is this a final interview over dinner with more team members? This is yet another test, and you need to be sure that even though you’re not in an office situation anymore, you’re still working and you need to be extra diligent that you’re still “on”. That means no alcohol, even if they have a glass or two, and your goal is still to sell your skills and expertise, only in a different scenario.
Bottom line is this: Always err on the side of being conservative and not overdone. It’s not about how “pretty” or handsome you are, or that you’re the best dressed one there. It’s about how marketable you are, and how well you communicate your expertise and experience. And if you have any questions, shoot me an email. I’m happy to help!
About the Author
Huda Baak has first-hand experience in the topics on which she speaks. She grew up among ambassadors and international business executives from around the globe. She has a multi-cultural background and is multi-lingual, having lived and worked throughout the Middle East, Europe, Canada and now the U.S.
She is an award-winning image consultant, and served on the Boards of Directors for the National Speakers Association and the Association of Image Consultants International. She has spoken before thousands of professionals, and has appeared on numerous radio and television business talk shows in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can be reached at www.HudaBaak.com
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