The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

May 12, 2017

Dress for Success: The Difference is in the Details


Dressing for success in a job interview is must, and this imperative transcends far beyond your clothing.  While we recommend that your outfit is slightly more formal than the company’s dress code, your interviewers will assess many other elements of your presentation.

Such details impact the perception of your overall appearance and, therefore, your interview performance. They are easily overlooked if you are nervous or if you are heading out the door of your home in a rush. Neglecting any of them can harm your chances of being selected to move forward in the interview process.

Let’s review the fine details of dressing for success. Use this as a checklist in advance of your next job interview.

No Bad Hair Days

There are lots of different ways to style your hair for an interview, but the most important thing is that your hair looks neat. Hair is one of the most instantly noticeable features of your appearance after your attire. Brush or comb your hair and ensure it’s not greasy, wet, messy, or covering your face. Arriving at the interview with unruly hair communicates that you do not pay attention to detail.

What Do You Have on Hand?

The way in which you bring your resume or other professional materials matters more than you know. Of course, the biggest gaffe of all is to forget your resume entirely. The next biggest is to bring wrinkled or ripped copies! We recommend carrying multiple copies of the document enclosed in a folder or leather portfolio.

Nail Down the Opportunity with Proper Grooming

Specifically, groom your nails. Assuming the interview takes place at a desk or table, your nails will be highly visible to your interviewer(s) during the full conversation. Make sure they are even, carefully trimmed, and clean. If you choose to wear nail polish, go with one solid neutral color.

Kick the Bad Habits

Avoid engaging in bad habits that will divert attention from your verbal explanations of your competency and success. Refrain from biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or playing with your hair. Don’t touch your face and try to avoid fidgeting in your seat. These behaviors will make you look nervous or insecure.

Take the World off Your Shoulders

Maintain good posture to demonstrate that you are prepared, intelligent, and capable of performing the job. Keep your chest up, rather than your shoulders slumped. Look confident!

Make Makeup Simple

Keep your makeup basic, tasteful, and minimal. There is no reason to wear heavy eyeliner or loud, brightly colored eyeshadow to a daytime meeting. Wearing too much makeup is neither necessary nor appropriate and is indicative of a lack of professionalism.

Don’t Lose the Job by a Nose

Sniffling excessively, coughing, or combatting a runny nose creates disruptions in your dialogue and can be perceived as unhygienic. If you’re suffering from a cold or allergies, alleviate your symptoms with medication before you head to the interview. Bring tissues, cough drops, and hand sanitizer if necessary to show respect for others in the room.

Give a Bold Smile

Floss and brush thoroughly before your departure. Upon arrival, double check your teeth in a mirror for food or lipstick. Carry breath mints, but do not chew gum during the meeting. Smiling is important to expressing enthusiasm before, during, and after your interview. Your smile shows more than just confidence; it defines you as a pleasant, inviting person.

Step into the Shoes of the Job You Want

When you’re concentrating so heavily on your suit, blouse, dress, or skirt, you might forget to be mindful of your shoes. Make sure they match your outfit, that you can walk in them comfortably, and that they are not scuffed.

No Alarm Bells, Please

Turn off your cell phone or put it on airplane mode before you step into the office. Resist the urge to check your phone at any point during the interview; it’s not only rude but will make you lose your train of thought. The best strategy is to keep your phone out of sight.

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