Published on 12th March 2015
Perception determines reality.
That is a cold, hard fact of life. Many people would see this as being a sad indictment of our society, but, as recruiters, we see it being played out on a daily basis. The effort that you put into your appearance could make a tangible difference to success in your job search. The manner in which you behave will influence how others react to you. They will either want to mirror you, or they will turn away from you.
You don’t have to be devastatingly good-looking with a toned physique and a Hollywood smile. It is not even about being seen to be attractive, although the unconscious bias definitely exists. No. I would just like to say that the effort that you put into your personal appearance is equated by many to the effort you put into other aspects of your life, and certainly the effort that you are likely to put into your future job.
Once people get to know you, they will forgive you the odd bad hair day or the mud speckled trousers after you were accidentally splashed by a car. They know you for who you are and know that normally you make an effort.
However, for those who are unlikely to have any other evidence of your character or moral fibre, those chipped or slightly grubby nails could be the pre-cursor of a whole load of far more unsavoury characteristics. People will make judgements about you based on the smallest amount of evidence. Make sure that you don’t give them the ammunition!
To give some specific interview advice – aim to be “appearance neutral.”
The less your attire and appearance detract from your personality and what you are saying, the better. You should neither be wearing a scruffy suit, nor should you be wearing a designer model (unless you work in that industry, of course). For the women, hair and make-up should be understated but evident. For the men, facial hair should be trimmed or absent altogether. Just to give a few examples….
It sounds obvious when you are told to go to an interview in neutral tones, but you really do want them to be concentrating on your story rather than your choice in waistcoats, so I’d advise dispensing with the “individuality” card.
There is only one thing that you should do with your face. Use it!
There is nothing worse than a candidate sitting expressionless through an interview. React to what people are saying, make regular eye contact (without staring), let them know that you are listening without going “mmm, uh huh, yeah” every five seconds. They will know that you are engaged through your facial expressions.
If you look your best and if you come across as a great person in terms of your non-verbal communication skills, you have every chance of creating a favourable impression.
If you look “good enough”, people will start ignoring your appearance and actually listen to what you have to say. At an interview, this is pretty important.