In the current economic climate, a lot of people are settling for jobs that are below their experience level or skillset. With things not looking better anytime soon, the entry level jobs that used to be a perfect fit for graduates are being taken by the more ‘experienced’ candidate.
This isn’t just bad for you; it’s also often bad for the company whose most recent member of staff starts to become disillusioned with the work and often isn’t a correct fit for the business. Therefore it is important to stand out in your interview and make sure you get you points across with confidence and aptitude.
The first stepping stone to this point is what you wear. As the saying goes, if you look great, you feel great and that has never been more accurate than in an interview. What you have to remember is the interviewers are looking for reasons to like you. If they have picked out your CV, they obviously think you are good enough on paper, and more often than not are checking your basic skills such as communication, personality and appearance.
As first impressions go, they will be looking to see if you are smartly dressed and they will make a decision if they themselves would be able to get along with you. Humans by nature make judgements as it is easy to store large amounts of data in categories. Therefore, if you look like you haven’t made an effort on your interview outfit, they may presume you are lazy, leave things to the last minute and don’t pay attention to the details. These may all well be unfounded; you maybe aren’t experienced in what to wear for interviews, but getting them to change their judgement in a 30-minute interview will be an uphill struggle.
As a general rule of thumb, dress one level up from what you will be wearing on your day-to-day role. Remember, the person ringing you to offer you the interview will not mind telling you what the dress code is like at the workplace. If you forgot to ask, think about the role itself; if it is computer based, you will often be allowed to dress casual. If you are dealing with clients, you will be expected to wear a suit. Use your judgement, which is what they will be paying you for.
For my last interview, in which the job was computer intensive, I wore a jumper, shirt and tie. I think this gave the impression that I took time to plan my appearance, used my judgement that a suit was probably slightly too much and that I would fit in with the other staff at the office. Although these are only first impressions, that is usually all you can get from a 30-minute interview, so make sure the impressions you give are good ones.
Accessories are also an important part of you interview outfit. Make sure if you are wearing a watch that it is tasteful (leave your orange Casio at home). Tie colour should fit with the rest of your outfit, although a darker shade of any colour usually goes well. Another important factor, possibly one of the most important is shoes. You can get decent shoes for very reasonable prices nowadays.
So remember, after your worldly travels, there are still opportunities to get a job once you are back home. Make sure you make a great first impression and feel confident - you will get there eventually!
By Jonathan Dempster, a marketing executive at a digital agency based in Leeds. Currently working on behalf of the House of Fraser men’s shoes campaign, he has an interest in fashion, business organisation and current affairs (and knows what it is like getting a job after travelling!).