Dress to impress for a job interview...

When you open your wardrobe to select what you must wear for a job interview which when successful, secures you a desk in the creative department of an ambitious, excellence-driven, globally hungry advertising company, a pair of short pants, a T-shirt worn over a bear body, a pair of native sandals and a Rastafarian veil worn over your dreadlocks may be acceptable.

When the job at stake is that of a rap music disk jockey, an oversized, large-sleeved baseball T-shirt with several inscriptions worn over a blue pair of jeans that is almost falling from the waist and covering your pair of canvass shoes below may not be out of place.

A university graduate whose passion it is to host an hour and a half of reggae music on one of the top radio networks who walks into the interview/auditioning hall wearing a blue/black suit may possibly be misconstrued for an internal revenue officer calling to present a tax clearance certificate to the CEO of the company.

A geodetic engineer fresh from school who responded to an online vacancy announcement and was later called for an interview may become the laughing stock of everyone if he steps into the interview room clad in a designer suit and some top-of-the-range shoes. But if the same jobseeker walks in, wearing mining gears and a pair of typical rugged CAT boots, the employer may see one of their own at work in one of the many mines spread across the Central, Western and Ashanti regions.

The candidate who enters the vetting office of a new, little community bank, set up purposely to assist farmers and local artisans walking on about a foot-high shoes and a short skirt a few inches below the hips with an exotic accent is likely to go home to continue her unemployment holidays.

Job interview

When you are preparing for a job interview, the clue is to understand the psychology of the job-giver which is also largely shaped by the industry norms of the said business. Today, any male young person attending a job screening for a position in a bank, wearing a bushy hair, oversized suit and shoes that make them taller by a foot stands a good chance of being mistaken for a middle-aged secondary school master going to the local GES office to sort out their salary challenges. This is so because young people in the fiduciary and banking industry these days tend to wear slim-fits, carry lowly cropped hair cuts and wear shoes that pass for sneakers. Except where you are able to properly understand these dynamics, you will brand yourself out of the competition yet be fighting for the job you have already lost.

Being professional in what you wear for a job interview is important and being as detailed as is practically possible in the selection of your wardrobe is equally prudent for every jobseeker. When you have resolved that the dressing tradition in the industry in which you are seeking entry requires prospects to wear suits for the job interview, work on the colour preference culture too. Because, even though a suit may be highly recommended for screening for finance jobs in general, a white suit, a brown garb or a yellow jacket may turn you into a bull in a China shop.

Economic hard times

Please be modest with whatever you choose to wear after having shopped the industry for clothing tradition, especially when you are dealing with start-ups or corporations that are having difficulties balancing their books due to economic hard times. This group of businesses usually do not pay much and so are usually not at ease with designer conscious, Rolex wearing job seekers.

If the employer sights you from a reasonable distance before you take your seat in front of them, they get to evaluate the clothes you are wearing for the function and quickly put money value on them. If your Marks & Spencer suit, Breitling watch and John Lobb pair of shoes easily place you in a certain class of people not usually preferred in start-ups or companies in distress, you can be sure you will throw the opportunity to the dogs. But for companies that have a finely polished personnel branding policy and who wish to position themselves in this light, the same dress would woo the job-giver and get them to make a decision in your favour.

If you have no new clothes because you have some current financial difficulties, select from your wardrobe the ones that can pass the test of decency and good grooming even if they are not new. When ironing, make time to avoid overly starching your clothes as this may make you look awkward in them.

Polish your shoes well and keep a tissue paper/handkerchief for final dusting before you arrive in the office where the test is scheduled to take place. But if you can afford driving yourself to the venue, you do not need this duster after a good polishing at home. Black shoes are seen as more professionally correct for both sexes than shoes of any other colours. Going mongo-parking is like wearing a flying tie over your vest without a long sleeve shirt. Let your socks synchronise with the colour of your shoes. Mind every accessory on you, including your belt. Belts, shoes and socks must match. (Ladies should not wear stockings to job interviews except where the screening is in areas of performing arts.)

The kind of haircuts we wear speak volumes about who we are. Artificial braids may not be a suitable option for female candidates especially when these braids are a little old and prone to giving off that pungent smell. Natural locks may be acceptable in some industries but frowned upon in others. These days, males who carry dread locks tend to have a certain X-factor working in their favour but this is restricted to non-formal areas and sphere of work where there is little client interaction with the dreadlocked employee. Wear the kind of hairstyle that synchronises with your peers in the industry and makes you almost get lost in their pool.

Avoid allowing your faith to get too much in the way of your clothe selection for a job interview. Muslim female jobseekers who continue to wear caftans after school and who are unwilling to let go of this fashion have to be very selective for the jobs they have to apply for if they wish to make these dress codes their official professional attire. Business owners who share these dressing principles may admire these caftans but liberal-minded employers will deny you the opportunity. Even for the so-called employer with similar values as yours, if your outfits are going to stand in the way of their business, you can count on them to fire you even before you are fully settled in the company.

Some female Muslim jobseekers select wardrobes that pass for a job interview but insist on veiling their heads. A lot of corporations do not really find that offensive as long as the said employee’s role is not a front desk one. But when attending an interview for a front desk position or a similar role which will require you from time to time to interact with clients, assess the dressing mood likely to pass before choosing your attires for the interview. — GB

SOURCE: Graphic Business