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Zeroin on Interview Appropriate Behavior

by Rae Sours  -  November 11, 2014

After working in the Staffing Industry, a frequent faux pas I notice my candidates make is calling a few hours before their interview to ask what the attire is and what they should expect (as far as personal style goes) from the interviewer. In a perfect world, a recruiter would be able to tell you every piece of information about an interviewer from what s/he will wear to how they talk and what questions they will ask. However, the world is not perfect and this hiring manager could be new to the company or a different hiring manager your recruiter has worked with before.  Your recruiter will not be able to answer all of your questions. When this happens, always error on the side of formal and professional when it comes to your dress and speech.

NEVER ASSUME THAT THE TYPE OF WORK A COMPANY DOES CORRELATES TO THEIR DRESS CODE
This is the number 1 mistake that candidates make going into an interview. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or what company you are interviewing for. You might be interviewing at a graphic design firm or a tattoo parlor or with a construction company. It doesn’t mean you should automatically assume you know what’s okay with the owners and what’s not. Even if you will never see a client face to face, that doesn’t mean that the higher ups don’t expect you to wear dress pants and a shirt with a collar to work every single day. Never assume that just because the product or service a company provides is trendy or casual that daily operations are run the same way.

YOU ARE AT AN INTERVIEW, YOU DO NOT WORK THERE YET
You might have friends that work for the company you are interviewing for or you have been to the office and have seen first hands what the employees wear on a day to day basis. This should mean very little to you. Even if you know for a fact that the work environment is casual you should absolutely still dress in business professional attire. The fact that you show up to an interview with clean (dry) hair, a collared shirt (with a tie is best for men), dress slacks, and dress shoes shows a hiring manager that you are taking this opportunity seriously. It shows that you have prepared yourself to make the best first impression that you can and that you are professional, eager, and ready for a new opportunity. You respect the time the hiring manager is giving you and you care about becoming an asset to their company.

REFLECT THE TONE AND BODY LANGUAGE OF THE INTERVIEWER
You want to make the person interviewing you as comfortable as possible. You want them to walk away from your interview thinking, “that was pleasant.” No matter how nervous you may be, it will always behoove you to reflect the interviewers attitude. If s/he is leaning back in their chair with their legs crossed exuding a feeling of a natural conversation do not sit on the edge of your seat wringing your hands and nervously tapping your feet. On the flip side, if an interviewer talks quickly and dives straight into their questions with minimal small talk be sure that your answers are also straight to the point. Clearly, they aren’t there to mess around. However, that does not mean you should hurry through your interview. Keep your answers direct, concise, and organized.  The interviewer will appreciate that you read and reacted to their style. If you are able to accomplish reflecting your interviewer’s behavior, you will leave them with the impression that you will be able to match the company culture and, thus, allow s/he to imagine you working at their company.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION
Your job as an interviewee is to make yourself the most desirable candidate that you can. It is up to you to make the company want to hire you, and it is also up to you to decide if it is an environment YOU want to work in. By no means does dressing the part and reflecting a hiring manager’s attitude mean that you have to take a job. If you walk away thinking “I do not fit into this company” politely decline a job offer and keep your search alive.

Take away point: you are in control of whether you receive that offer or not. Do not let something small like your casual dress or a nervous tick give the interviewer a doubtful feeling that will keep you from being their number one pick!