At AOL Jobs we receive a lot of questions from our male readers about appropriate dress for an interview. Making a good first impression isn't just about throwing on a suit and polishing your shoes. We spoke to Ann Lindsay, certified image consultant and principal of Style of Success, a firm working exclusively with men, for some image and dress tips to help men outshine their competitors during an interview.
1. Dress appropriately for your industry.
This can mean pressed khaki trousers and button-down oxford shirt if you are applying for a customer service position, or a pinpoint shirt, no tie, wool gabardine trousers and coordinated sport coat for an entry management or a non-financial sales rep position. A dark suit, white shirt and conservative (non-whimsical) tie will work for most "white collar" positions -- especially those in the legal or financial realm. Last, for the top executive, it's all about the details; best fit, best fabric, best grooming, with matching accessories and shoes.
2. Dress appropriately for your body.
This means wear clothing that fits you correctly -- and you need to look twice! Do your shirt cuffs show a bit from under your jacket? Do your trousers "pool" or "break" over your shoe? Does your suit strain or pull anywhere? Does it follow the natural line of your shoulder? Further, do you wear colors that harmonize with your own skin tone? Wearing colors that "suit" you makes you look alive and vibrant -- others can make you look drawn and tired.
3. Excellent grooming shows that you respect yourself.
Ensure the details; your shirt should be right from the cleaners -- crisp and pressed. Your suit should be closely inspected for stains, and definitely for stray hairs. Dare I mention dandruff? Your hair should be recently cut or at the very least, any stray hairs should be removed from the back of your neck with a beard grooming tool. Your shoes should be polished and your fingernails should be clean. Also make sure your glasses are washed, teeth are brushed, and use a breath mint. And, absolutely NO smoking before the meeting!
4. Meet and exceed emotional expectations.
You should strive to meet the emotional expectations of your interviewer, client or superior. What does that mean? Well, think about who they are, what they value, and what are they looking for in you? Do they want someone powerful to step in like Master and Commander? Or perhaps they want someone who is approachable and will make easy connections with their clients. Each role has its own associated image, and this image can be conveyed by the colors you choose, the lines of pattern you choose, and the formality of the garments you select.
5. Make an excellent first impression.
Get there early and make sure your cell phone is turned off. Once you're there wait patiently, no chatting with the receptionist. Greet the interviewer by standing and approaching with a good stride, a relatively firm handshake (yes for women also) and MAINTAIN eye contact as you shake.
6. Display confidence.
No matter whom you are speaking to -- a client, superior or interviewer -- they all want to know that you can do the job at hand. And since YOU know you can, feel free to express that in your relaxed and confident tone of voice, body language and thoughtful answers to questions. Fake it till you make it, baby!
7. Look attractive.
I don't mean "pretty." Look and act like someone the other person can connect with personally -- like someone they would want to know better. Look like you want to be there, have enthusiasm and smile! Try to direct the conversation to safe personal topics of family, pets, vacation and sports -- anything to make an interpersonal connection. People buy (products, services or concepts) from those they know like and trust: Reach out with warmth like you are JUST that right person -- and the contract or job will follow!
Surprised that only half of these tips are "clothing" related? That's because so much of the impressions we give other people are from ALL of our visual cues -- body language, gestures and tone of voice all connect with our clothing color, fit and style choices. For maximum impact, combine all these elements and you will be way ahead of the pack!
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