Personal presentation and grooming when attending an interview is sometimes overlooked by candidates. While interviewers are primarily focused on skills, education, and experience, a candidate’s personal appearance is undoubtedly influential in their decision about which candidate they want on their team. Imagine you have two candidates in front of you for an office role who are equally matched in terms of skills and experience. One is wearing a crisp suit, shirt and tie, is well scrubbed and groomed, while the other is poorly groomed and dressed casually. Who would you choose?
Looking clean, tidy, and professional shows an employer you value the opportunity of meeting them and you want the job because you have made every effort to impress. Good presentation can have a genuine impact on your chances of success, particularly where others have made less effort. It is particularly important for roles where there is a strong client-facing aspect to the job.
There are two common situations where candidates regularly miss an opportunity by not making enough effort in their presentation. One occurs when often younger candidates apply for casual work in fields such as retail and customer service and they may feel it is not necessary to attend the interview ‘suited and booted’. However, it is common to see a candidate beat the competition because they were the only one who went the extra mile and wore a suit or shirt and tie.
Another common situation occurs when recruitment agencies interview candidates. Candidates may feel it is not necessary to make as much effort because they are not meeting the employer directly. However, recruiters are assessing you on behalf of the employer and are just as likely to be influenced by your presentation and shortlist you accordingly.
Losing out on a position due to personal presentation issues is very easy to avoid. Some of the basics when attending an interview include:
- Dress professionally and appropriately to the workplace (e.g. business attire for office roles)
- Wash, clean shave or trim beards, and tidy hair
- Smell pleasant, but avoid overly strong perfumes or aftershaves
- Jewellery is acceptable but keep it to a minimum
- Handbags should be modest in size and neutral in appearance
- Shoes should be clean, polished and appropriate to the work environment