The final hurdle in the interview process is the face-to-face or “visual” interview. Judgments are based on interviewees 1) clothing, 2) grooming, 3) body condition, and 4) body language.  These four things comprise a Professional Appearance Rating (PAR).

Use these tips to increase your PAR and be interview ready!

1. Wear culturally appropriate clothing

Every workplace has a culture. If your interview outfit doesn’t match the company culture, you risk being perceived as not being a cultural fit. In the past, there was an “interview uniform.” The days of an interview uniform have passed.  My advice is to always ask your hiring contact for guidance on how you should dress for the interview.

However, if you are unsure of what to wear, or don’t get an answer, the best option is a “business casual” outfit. Business casual consists of a blouse, slacks or skirt, blazer or sweater, and professional shoes.  (Leave the athleisure wear at home.)


Real situation: “I was beginning to wonder if every millennial thought they should dress like Mark Zuckerberg and wear whatever they wanted for an interview.  I was pleasantly surprised when this young woman arrived very professionally dressed.  She didn’t look too serious by wearing an extremely conservative suit.  Instead, she was dressed business casually. She made a great impression!” – John B.


2. Wear proper fitting clothing

Not too tight, too short or too revealing!  It doesn’t matter if the outfit is old or new…proper fit is what’s most essential!




Real situation: “I interviewed a very qualified young lady for an open position.  She was a great candidate but I couldn’t get past her outfit.  It was far too revealing for our company.  I should have given her some feedback but as a man, I felt uncomfortable doing that.  In hindsight, I wish I had told her about the clothing.  I’m sure we would have hired her and she would have been a real asset to the company.” –Jim H.


3. Wear clothing to enrich a plus size frame

Nobody’s body is perfect! We all suffer from bodily imperfections. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Unfortunately, there is an “obesity bias” which penalizes heavier people. Heavier job seekers should dress to enrich their larger frame not detract from it.  Strategies to create this effect include wearing darker colors and wearing clothing with a tailored fit.  (Trust us…no body shaming is intended or implied!)



Real situation: “I saw my candidate sitting in the lobby and noticed that she was very heavy. I hate to admit it but I thought “this interview will not last very long.”  However, once we started the interview I was impressed with her knowledge but also the fact that he clothing fit very nicely and she carried herself with great confidence.  Her appearance and demeanor won me over and I offered her the job.” – Ronda R.


4. Exude confidence

As a young woman, possibly with limited work experience, it may be difficult to exude confidence.  The fact is, people, want to hire people who are confident in themselves.  Everyone has heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it!”  This holds true for confidence.  Signs of a confident person include making direct eye contact, smiling, offering a firm handshake and using an erect stance when both standing and sitting.


Real situation: Watch this Amy Cuddy TED Talk.


5. Cover your tattoos

Yes, tattoos are hugely popular and even acceptable in some companies. However, unless you are absolutely sure that the company you’re interviewing with is ok with them, cover them up.  Also, note that you may be asked to cover them up even after getting the job.

Real situation:  “We have hired people with tattoos but they must cover them up when they are at work!  So if it comes down to a choice between a candidate with and a candidate without tattoos, we’d prefer hiring the one without.  It just makes it much easier on us.” –Jill P.


6.  Don’t use Cardi B’s nail artist

Avoid blinged out fingernails.  You may be able to get away with it after getting the job but don’t take a chance for the interview.


Real situation: “I looked at this woman’s nails during the interview and thought “how will she get any work done with those nails?!” I decided to pass on her.” – Nancy A.


7. Wear an appropriate hairstyle

Neat, well-groomed and current are the key attributes for interview hairstyles. However, unless you are interviewing in a very relaxed, creative environment, avoid extremely trendy hair styling. Go with a current but more conservative style.

Real situation: “I checked out this candidate’s Facebook page after looking at her impressive application.  Once I saw the streaks of bright colors in her hair I decided not to even bring her in for the interview.”  -Harold M.


8. Skip the perfume

If your interview will be in a small, enclosed space (e.g. hiring manager’s office, a small break room, etc.) don’t wear perfume.  Perfumes can be polarizing.  People tend to either love or hate the smell. A 50% chance that the interviewer will love your fragrance is not strong enough odds in your favor to take the risk.  Keep in mind that some people may also be allergic to the scent.

Real situation: “After only a couple of minutes into my interview, the interviewer asked if he could reschedule. I was confused but said, “Yes, of course.  Is something wrong?” The interviewer replied, “I’m sorry but your perfume is overwhelming me!” I was embarrassed and disappointed.  He never rescheduled the interview.” –Gloria F.


Dressed Club is a member-based appearance advisory service.  Our Professional Appearance Advisers provide affordable, expert coaching in the areas of clothing, grooming, health and body language.  Dressed Club helps remove many of the doubts standing between you and success!


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