Being Successful at Interviews Part 6
Your appearance is important. Do not make the mistake of thinking that it is only your history, qualifications, skills, and knowledge that will win you the job. Most other candidates will have similar attributes, so you need to make an impression, to look professional, smart, and appropriate for the post. In many cases, there will have been a previous holder of the post that the interviewers may be using, albeit subconsciously, as a benchmark. You can’t guess what the interviewers want, or don’t want, in terms of physical appearance and personality, but don’t for one second believe anyone that tells you this doesn’t matter (it shouldn’t, perhaps, in certain circumstances, but you are being invited into their world, and they will be looking for someone who they will be comfortable with (even if the role requires you to be an aggressive change-agent). Yes, in some countries there is legislation that says the job should be offered to the most appropriate person, regardless of appearance, but in real life this isn’t what happens.
The answer to this dilemma is to research the culture of the organisation that you are joining, so that you are aware of how people, in positions similar to the one you are being interviewed for, dress and behave, and you can comment on or ask questions about this during the interview. However, don’t go to the interview in jeans and t-shirt, even if that’s the day to day standard. You need to look as professional, as serious about obtaining the job, as possible. For men, that almost certainly means a business suit, or jacket and trousers, with or without tie. For women, a business suit or business outfit. For both sexes, smart-casual can be acceptable, if, but only if, it is that type of environment. In most situations, for most posts on offer to professionals, specialists, managers, experts, consultants, a business outfit is expected at the interview, even if, after appointment, they would never again expect you to come to work in anything remotely as formal.