The best advice I ever received was from an executive uncle of mine. He told me that you need to take an objective look at yourself and remove all of the potential negatives, no matter how you may feel about them. He was referring to my facial hair at the time, I’d grown partial to mustaches, and I had a big interview coming.
It was tough for me to take the razor to my ‘stache, but I got what I wanted in the end and landed a solid gig with a reputable company. Not because of the clean shaven face, mind you, though that helped. I found that once I’d removed the negatives, I could focus on the positives and gain confidence.
Here are a few things to think twice about before an interview:
1. Updating Your Resume
Take a look at your resume before you even start applying. If you have an interview tomorrow, don’t bother changing your resume now as it will look disingenuous, but there is still time for those on the search. What are the negatives you’re looking for?
- Any poorly stated accomplishments that don’t support the objectives of the position you want.
- Any irrelevant past positions, even if you can explain why you took these jobs.
- Any dates that do not coincide with publicly available data.
If the employer does follow up on your resume, one of the first things this person should see is your LinkedIn profile. The advantage being that you can provide a more detailed history of your work for public review. The chronological format is best for most cases, but employers also want to know what you bring to the table. Opt for the functional format when experience trumps the positions you have held. Do a search for yourself and buy a domain name for your name or based on your name.
Shaving my mustache was a win-win. I felt more confident, having eliminated something a potential employer may find unattractive, and I grew my facial hair back after I got the position. Get your hair cut, press your clothes, and shave (if you’re a male). Women should wear a simple, conservative hairstyle. Straight down or up in a bun will work, ponytails are also great. Remember that how you look can distract from what you’re saying, so groom accordingly.
Both sexes should wear a conservative outfit in most business settings. For women, this can equate to a blouse and knee-length skirt. Typically, a suit jacket and slacks for men will be enough, with a tie to complete the look. It is also in your best interest to learn how to tie a tie, should the need arise elsewhere. Shoes should be dress, with women going no higher than a mid-heel shoe. Jeans are usually a no-go, even really nice ones.
This is also dependent on company culture and what you know before-hand. If you are up for a position in the fashion industry, for instance, you might be expected to show off your tastes at the interview.
Google Maps is a great resource for getting an idea of commute time and route. If you have a few days leading up to the interview, check the traffic during the times you plan to leave. Traffic is a huge concern for major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Allow yourself enough time in the morning to prepare, going to sleep extra early the night before. A 9-10 PM bedtime will usually work, but everyone is different.
If you smoke, switch to an electronic cigarette a day or two before. There is really no downside for you:
- It gets rid of the smell, a potential turn off for employers.
- You still get the same Nicotine effects.
- It’s only one day, and you might get paid to do it (if you get the job).
Who knows, you may find out you prefer the e-cigs, but the point is that you’ll have removed a huge potential negative.
Once these hang-ups are gone, you’re free to pursue the job you want with a confident state of mind and swagger to your step.
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