I am fortunate to have three sisters for more reasons than I can count. They pick me up when I need a ride. They cheer me on at soccer games, Capture the Flag competitions, fashion shows, and public speaking tournaments. They are ready, at a moments notice, to go for breakfast at Chester Bagel, get a mani/pedi, and/or discuss our mutual favorite book series…Harry Potter, obviously. They support me in the important moments of my life – big or small.
Another reason sisters are the best? They let you borrow from their wardrobe. I prepared for my first in-person internship interview this past April. As I looked into my closet at school, I came to a conclusion. Although I had assembled a certain amount of appropriate business casual pieces, I did not possess the business formal outfit the situation called for. Luckily, my sister, Kerry, lent me her Anne Klein skirt suit for the occasion, which I accessorized with a pearl necklace my sister, Mary Kate, had gifted me a few years ago. Like I said, I am lucky to have the sisters I do.
In addition to Kerry and Mary Kate, another person who helped me prepare for this interview with my potential summer employer was Margaret Batting. As I wrote in my first post, she hosted an educational workshop for BC Women in Business where she highlighted important insights for dressing to impress, especially when a job or internship is on the line. I was recalling her tips as I prepared in April, and I think she offers very valuable advice. Therefore, my “Mondays with Margaret” series continues as Margaret Batting joins us today to discuss…
How to Prepare for an Interview
Are you ready for your big interview? Do you know how to set yourself apart from your competition? If you answered no, then you’ll need to spend some time thinking about your professional presence. I know, I know, you resume tells your story but that is only HALF of the equation. Your appearance, communication skills, and behavior make up the other half. In addition to experience, you also need to look and act the part. Fitting seamlessly into an organization and supporting a company’s brand image is an important component to landing a job in today’s economy. In preparation for the big day, consider the following:
1.Think about the message or story you believe is important to communicate through your visual presence. Coming across as confident and professional is essential. However, there may be other messages that are also important to convey like: compassion, credibility, and creativity. Once you identify these messages, you can use colors, patterns and specific styles to support your story.
2. Understand the company’s culture, environment, and brand. This knowledge will help you chose an interview outfit that is appropriate for the job and the environment. Keep in mind that although a company may have a very casual culture, your goal is to demonstrate the unspoken rules of professional dress and to mirror the culture.
3. Be prepared to communicate easily what makes you unique and why you should be hired over the competition. Spend some time really thinking about the skills, qualities and experiences that make you unique. Prior to the interview, practice delivering this answer with a friend or mentor so you are confident in your delivery. If this question doesn’t come up, offer your answer at some point during the interview.
In addition to these guidelines, keep the following 9 tips in mind:
1. Dress a notch above your peers. You’re not expected to dress at the level of your manager or your manager’s boss, but you are expected to look professional enough that they can put you in front of a client or senior executive.
2. Fit clothes to your body shape and size. You want to appear well dressed, genuine and comfortable. Remember, it is business first and fashion second. Of course if you are interviewing for a position in the fashion or retail industry, then you’ll want to demonstrate your fashion sense.
3. Not all clothes fit perfectly off the rack. You’ll need to make a minor investment to look your absolute best. Tailoring your clothes makes all the difference. You’d be surprised at how many people notice when your clothes don’t fit. Jacket sleeves, pant and skirt hems need to fall at the right place for you to look polished and professional. You want to be remembered for your work not an ill-fitting outfit.
4. Pay attention to key details like polished, updated and well kept shoes, manicured hands and accessories such as a quality tote, portfolio and pen. Investing in yourself tells others you are worth investing in.
5. Brush up on your business and dining etiquette. This speaks volumes especially if you are a newcomer to the corporate world. Some interviews are conducted over lunch or dinner. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
6. Be courteous to everyone you meet during your visit to the company, especially the receptionist! You want to make a positive impression on as many people as you can.
7. Watch your body language. It can sabotage your success without you even knowing it.
8. Keep jewelry and watches understated. They should enhance your look, not unnecessarily detract from it by being distracting.
9. For the interview and beyond: look like you care! A professional hairstyle is essential for both men and women. Facial hair on men should be well groomed. Wear make-up that complements your complexion and completes your look.
As I discussed in my first post, Margaret is offering a 10% discount to all of my readers with the code Styles I Like for her two introductory services. Thank you, Margaret, for your third post! I look forward to your next installment.
Note: This post was sponsored by Margaret Batting Image Communications.