First Impression: Dress for Success at a Job Interview
Smith College’s Lazarus Center for Career Development has proven success in counseling students on job interviews. Within one year of graduation, 75 percent of students are employed.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Before a candidate even utters a word during a job interview, a potential employer forms an opinion based on the person’s appearance and behavior, according to Smith College’s Lazarus Center for Career Development.
By that point, the employer has already reviewed the candidate’s resume and cover letter to understand her qualifications. So, the interview is time to evaluate the candidate as a potential representative of the organization.
At Smith, the Lazarus Center for Career Development offers programs on writing résumés and cover letters, and interviewing. Within one year of graduation, 75 percent of alumnae are employed. Twenty years after graduation, some 10 percent of alumnae report holding a chief executive position, and an additional 9 percent, executive-level positions.
Patricia Woods, assistant director of career development, and Patrick Connelly, assistant director of student programs, offer the following tips for success.
- Wear a suit in a conservative color. If wearing a skirt, be certain it is a moderate length and paired with neutral hose. When wearing a dress shirt, button up and avoid a revealing neckline.
- Shoes should be conservative, in good condition and not worn down in the heels. Women’s heels should not be more than 1-to-2 inches. Avoid wearing open-toed shoes or slingbacks.
- Jewelry and makeup—including nail polish—should be subtle and discreet. Avoid distracting amounts of either. Generally, men and women should remove any facial piercings.
- Hair should be neatly styled and nails, a professional length.
- Do not wear fragrance of any kind. An interviewer may be allergic.
- Go over your outfit with a lint brush before the interview.
- When you arrive at the interview location, stop by the restroom and give your attire a final check.
- Be polite to everyone, from receptionists and assistants to everyone you meet during the course of your visit.
- Be punctual. Allow enough time to get to the interview without breaking a sweat. Arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes beforehand.
- Carry a briefcase or portfolio instead of a purse or backpack and take extra copies of your resume.
- Avoid garlic, onions and other strong foods the night before and day of the interview. And, check to make sure there is nothing stuck in your teeth.
- Pop a breath mint before the interview but do not chew gum.
Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,600 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.