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Demonstrating “Employability” in an Interview

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dress-for-successI mentioned Employ-ability in my last blog post. I said: “Employ-ability covers a range of interview issues – like how to dress (modestly and professionally), when to show up (a smidge early), how to interact (person-ably and consistently), and so forth. I’ve found that most college grads gain these skills through their various collegiate interactions, yet some don’t.”  So let’s break this down a little bit:

How should we dress for an interview?

This is a tough one in today’s “dress-down” work world.  You don’t want to over-dress yet you want to present a professional image.  The best way to know what a company expects of a professionally dressed employee is to ask.  If you can ask someone that works there what the dress norms are that is ideal, but if not ask the person who invites you to the interview.  Something like:  “I want to be sure to dress professionally for this interview and there are so many definitions of that in today’s workforce? Can you tell me what most people wear to work there at your company?” Then dress UP one level for your interview.

Prepare what you are going to wear in advance – not the night before – because what you have in mind to wear might not be in the condition you last remember it or it may not fit as well as it used to.  Be sure what you wear is comfortable – but not too comfortable.

Women:  In a nut shell – dress modestly and err on the conservative side.  You may want to put your hair up if it is long, so that the interviewer can see your face.  I like pants suits because you don’t have to worry about how short your skirt is or getting a run in your stockings.  Wear flats or heels, whatever you are more comfortable in and whatever is going to be a good fit for the organization and type of work you are interviewing for.  Show NO cleavage.  Wear a little make-up:  just enough to demonstrate that you put some thought into your appearance, and not so much that they would not recognize you without it.

Men: In a nutshell – dress professionally and err on the conservative side.  Even if you are interviewing for a construction position it is better to over dress yet be realistic.  You can always take off the tie or the coat if you wear a suit.  If you are a person that sweats a lot under pressure take that into consideration when choosing what you wear.

Smell nice but don’t have your nice smell be the strongest impression that you leave.  The best bet for this is to put your “scent” on several hours before the interview begins.

If you are traveling a distance for your interview, it’s a good idea to wear different clothes for the trip and then stop somewhere close to your destination and change.  You’ll be more comfortable for the  trip and the possibility for mishaps narrows.  Just be sure to figure the time to change into your schedule.

Who knew there was so much to know about dressing for employ-ability in an interview? Yet I’ve probably only answered half of the questions I’ve gotten on this topic over the past 10 years.

JoAnne Casterlin is an Adjunct Professor at Davis College in Career Development. She is an active career and life coach who has worked in Career Development for over 10 years. JoAnne seeks to encourage others facing life transitions and challenges through coaching, blogging, and sharing her testimony. She speaks on the theme of “Authentic, Abiding and Abundant Christian Living” and focuses on helping women of all ages to better handle life changes, break free from adversity and experience spiritual growth with grace, courage and wisdom.

JoAnne can be reached by email at jcasterlin@davisny.edu. Visit her blog at http://stillnessandmotion.blogspot.com/