By VIVY YUSOF
THEY put you through an emotional wringer, test your intellectual capacity to the limit, and make you reassess every single achievement in your life. Job interviews – who needs ‘em, right?
Well unfortunately, most of us do. We all need to put food on the table (or designer bags in our closets, whichever your priority is).
So we practise our answers to every possible question the interviewer might ask, until we feel pretty confident we can nail it.
But let me break something to you – that’s just half the battle won.
What’s the other half? It’s right in that closet you have there.
Like it or not, appearances matter, and most companies will want to hire the person who can present themselves well enough to carry the company’s image. So this one crucial session cannot be taken lightly, my friends.
Now what should we wear to a job interview?
Before you start making a pile of clothes on your bed, first things first – know the line of work you are interviewing for.
If you are smart, you would have done some research on what the people working there wear. Either stalk their Facebook photos or even pretend to read the newspaper at their office lobby to see the kind of style in that workplace. The more you know, the more confident you will be to make sure you will fit in.
If you are going for a corporate job, read this section. What counts as corporate? Places like banks, accounting firms, law firms, or anywhere your parents are probably pestering you to work at.
A well-tailored suit is your best bet. Black, navy, grey… Basically colours you would see at a funeral.
Here is the tricky part though: how will you stand out if every candidate looked alike? Of course an impressive resume and eloquent answers would be best, but when there are three grey-haired men staring at you, sometimes even the best of us choke. So make sure even when choking for a few seconds, you look your best.
First, your hair has to be clean and neat to show good hygiene. Second, your clothes must be well-ironed to show good organisation. Third, shoes must be polished and not worn out to show attention to detail. Fourth, accessorise wisely. If you are wearing a collared shirt, do not wear a necklace. It is best to just keep it minimal with simple studs, preferably pearls. And no matter what Legally Blonde tells us, it is not okay to bring your puppy along.
If you are going for a semi-corporate industry like utilities companies, engineering companies, etc., you can probably loosen the tie and breathe a little. Your skills will speak for you, but as life has taught us, first impressions count a lot. You probably won’t have to pick up your suit from the dry cleaners, but I would still suggest you keep a somewhat corporate feel to show your professionalism.
A crisp white shirt tucked into a black or grey pencil skirt, a shift dress with a coloured blazer or even a silk blouse with a pretty necklace. You have a bit more flexibility to experiment with a brighter colour or even open-toed shoes (gasp!), but keep it simple and try to limit yourself to a three-colour-only rule with your outfit. The same basic rules apply, though – clean hair, ironed clothes and polished shoes.
If you are going for a non-corporate industry like fashion, you can break a few rules! Prints, accessories, unique handbags… You will be fine. Heck, leave a few creases on your clothes and call it the crinkled trend. Wear your most worn-out shoes and call it the rugged emo look. But beware – a job interview is still a job interview.
I own an online fashion retail company and I have seen many interviews conducted before me. At the end of the day, as a prospective employer I look for someone who is well-groomed and is confident in whatever he or she puts on in the morning.
I once interviewed a lady who tied a scarf around her neck. Not only did she make me think I was running an airline company, it was also very distracting seeing the scarf move around as she spoke. I also interviewed a lady and unfortunately for the both of us she had a piece of spinach stuck in her teeth. She probably gave good answers, but I could not focus as I was just guessing in my head what she had for lunch. Do not let things like these spoil your chance to shine in a company.
These are pretty basic things, but all of us have to be reminded every once in a while.
Now take a deep breath, strut your stuff and go get that job! Whenever you get nervous, just picture your interviewer in diapers. Trust me, it helps.
Vivy Yusof runs FashionValet.com, an online fashion retail store that puts a spotlight on local and Asian brands. She blogs at proudduck.com.