Many of us were raised not to judge others by their appearance.
Society has made it a moral imperative to go beyond the superficial and not ascribe personality traits or a level of intelligence to others based on looks.
But guess what?
We still do it.
Every day we make decisions about others within seconds of meeting them; decisions about whether we would befriend, date, hire or even vote for them. And despite our efforts to execute sound decision-making based on evidence and facts, studies have shown that physical appearance still colors how we perceive others.
Perception is Reality
When an interviewer meets with you in a job interview, he/she will unconsciously go through a series of mental calculations to predict your fit with the position and company.
Like it or not, part of this calculation is based on how you look.
And while you can’t control snap judgments made by employers about the strength of your candidacy based on your appearance, you can avoid having your looks be the sole deciding factor in whether to hire you.
Don’t Let Your Appearance Become Background Noise
If you’ve ever lost focus on what someone was saying because of competing sounds around you, then you have an understanding of the impact on an interviewer of your choice of wardrobe.
Imagine you are trying to watch a TV show with a radio playing nearby – your attention is split between the two.
You may even be actively focusing on the TV and trying to mentally mute the sounds coming from the radio, but the net effect is that the message being received is being altered due to the interference.
If your fashion choices are acting like radio interference, read on to ensure your message of being an excellent candidate for the job is received loud and clear:
Begin with a classic, well-styled, and understated gray or black skirted suit.
Be certain the length of the skirt is about knee-length and choose neutral hose for a polished look.
It may sound ridiculous in the year 2016, but some companies may view women in a pantsuit as less appropriate than a skirted suit, so when playing it safe, go with the skirted suit. Once you have chosen the suit, pair it with a simple white, ivory, blue, or other conservatively colored, solid shirt.
Quick Tip: If the weather outside is gloomy, perk things up with an accent piece that adds a bit of color to your outfit to brighten the day!
All the World’s a Stage, But Your Makeup Should Not Be Theatrical
Use understated makeup to enhance your best features.
Save the glittery, shimmery, and metallic looks for the celebration after you get the job.
Go light on heavily scented lotions, and perfume as some people can be allergic. You also don’t want to be the candidate who leaves a scent trail wafting in the air behind you.
Modest Manicures and Basic Baubles
Your nails should not be a distraction due to a bright color or long length – stick with a neutral or clear polish with neat, trimmed nails.
Keep your accessories low-key and avoid bracelets or other jewelry that jingle jangles with movement. Aim for simple pieces that provide polish instead of flash.
Choose closed-toe pumps with a moderate heel that coordinates with your suit.
Instead of a purse, complete your look with a briefcase or portfolio.
When in doubt, remember that when dressing for a job interview, less is more.