Whether it is fair or not, potential employers will not evaluate just your skills and experience – they will evaluate you as well. Especially when it comes to a high profile, corporate office job. As someone who has held several such positions and has been interviewed for dozens more, I believe I can be of use and share some advice.
Those in the game – people who already work in corporate environment – know these things and follow them on autopilot. They do not need this article. But those trying to get in and preparing for their first interview might find it helpful.
You don’t need to have looks of a model, but you must present what you’ve got in the best possible way. Every little thing matters: clothes, shoes, hair, makeup. Let me break it down for you and elaborate on each one.
Clothes. While some offices allow casual style, most corporate jobs have a strict dress code and require business attire. Sticking to the conservative, classic style usually won’t fail. Make sure your clothes are neat and not wrinkled. Some people purchase a whole new outfit for a job interview; I would say it is advisable if you happen not to have anything appropriate, at all. But if you do, it is better to wear something you are comfortable in. A new outfit might take some time to get used to, and you don’t want to look or feel awkward at the interview.
Shoes. Shoes, especially for a lady, must go well with the clothes. The most expensive brand won’t do you any good if it clashes, in style or in color, with the rest of the outfit. Shoes must be always clean. No matter how long you’ve had to walk to the office, dusty shoes are not allowed. A good thing to have is a pocket size shoe-cleaning sponge, the one that comes in a little plastic box.
Hair. Whether you are a man or a woman, your hair must be neatly styled. Nothing elaborate, just a clean, well-groomed look. If there is a chance your hairdo has gotten messed up by wind or rain, stop by a mirror and check.
Makeup. Don’t overdo it. The impression you’re looking for is “a woman with long eyelashes, expressive eyes, smooth skin, and defined lips,” not “a woman with a lot of makeup on.” Make them think you’re a natural beauty.
Nails. Just like everything else, your nails must be neat and well groomed. For ladies, fresh manicure is a good idea, but make sure the color does not clash with the rest of your outfit. Having lipstick and nail polish of matching color will work well. If you are not sure about colors, use clear nail polish or French manicure.
Breath. Fresh breath is very important. Make sure you have some breath-freshening product, Tic Tac mints or pocket size mouth spray. NOT gum. Chewing gum is a no-no. Yes, there are breath-freshening types of gum that work very well; you can use some before the interview, but don’t forget to get rid of it as you go in.
Other things corporate employers look at are your manners and communication skills. You may be offered to have a cup of coffee, which is not just an act of hospitality but also a test: the interviewer wants to see whether you can handle drinking coffee and having a business conversation. Do your best to relax and not to look or act nervous. Be confident, but not pushy. Don’t avoid eye contact as you speak. If you are a shy person who finds it difficult to look other people in the eye, here’s a trick for you: look at the bridge of their nose; to them, it will seem as eye contact.
When asked to speak about yourself, don’t be afraid to state your good qualities and experience, but don’t go overboard praising yourself. You may be asked to name your strongest and weakest points, so be prepared for that, too.
Well, and if you have looked and done your best but the company still hasn’t called you back, do not be discouraged. Any professional can tell you their story of job-hunting, with interviews that seemed to go well and lead nowhere. Keep doing your best, and your efforts will be rewarded.