Do you recall anyone telling you that first impressions matter? They were right. Your appearance matters and you have less time than you thought to make a good one. Research suggests that assessments are made within the first seven seconds of meeting someone new and before one word is spoken (see businessinsider.com)
Our experience aligns with the research cited above. For over a decade we have worked with numerous hiring managers, and this cartoon and article is an attempt to summarize the top five things that we have heard related to appearance.
- If you are a man, shave all your facial hair off. This includes sideburns, moustache, chin whiskers, goatees, beards, stubble and the more recent cultural phenomenon known as the “soul patch”.
- If you are a man, get a conservative haircut.
- If you have a tattoo (bicep, forearm, neck, hands) or an unusual piercing, hide it.
- If you like extremely bright colors, don’t wear them. Go conservative, blue or grey.
- If you are in surgical sales already, do not wear your surgical scrubs to the interview.
It is possible that there are certain situations that might prevent you from shaving, and, of course, that is an exception (i.e. medical, religious beliefs). But for most people these are incredibly simple steps to take. Allow the focus of the interview to be on your qualifications for the job. Salary.com found that 76% of 2700 employer survey participants felt that tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant, and that 42% felt visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work. It is a safe bet that anything those employers felt was inappropriate for work they would feel was inappropriate for an interview.
In the end, we can agree that you have worked hard to get to the interview. In most cases you’ve been selected out of a tall stack of very qualified people. You probably had a phone interview and aced it. You are at a point where decisions can possibly be made about your employment. You are closer to the finish line. This face-to-face interview is an opportunity to continue to have the focus on what really matters. The focus should be on your skills, accomplishments, selling abilities and qualifications. So for your next interview take a checklist on the items above and make sure you are safe. You won’t regret it.