A professional appearance is important not only in an interview but also in internal and external meetings, and particularly when dealing with clients face to face. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is equally true for yourself and for the company that you are representing. Whether you are the receptionist, or the mail room clerk, you must remember that you are not invisible to your clients, suppliers and partners. Maintaining a professional appearance does not stop with what you are wearing but directly relates to the verbal tones you use and your body language.
Personally, I have always wondered why professional individuals persevere with their suits and ties no matter what weather extremity is developing. Surely in the middle of a heat wave, summer dresses or board shorts and thongs would be a more sensible choice? Understandably however, it is important for them to portray confidence and competence and, in doing so demonstrate a high level of professionalism.
During our professional lives we all are being judged on our appearance. To be noticed and recognised we need to take the time to make a good impression on others by ensuring the following:
Look at what you are wearing: The clothes we wear depend on the environment in which we work within, so take a look at what are your colleagues wearing. If they are all dressed in corporate attire and you are wearing a t-shirt from that Justin Timberlake concert you went to last week maybe it’s time to assess your work wardrobe!
Dressing for an interview: In an interview it is important to wear your best corporate attire. For women this includes a dark coloured suit or a dress that is knee length and dark polished shoes or high heels (not too high!). Try and avoid mini-skirts and mini-shorts (actually don’t try to avoid, actually DO AVOID this) – you need to be taken seriously. Avoid over the top jewellery and too much colourful makeup as this will distract the interviewer. For men, wearing a dark suit with black polished shoes and dark socks that match your suit are best. Ensure you iron your shirt so that it is sharp. On the topic of shirts, try and stick with a plain colour and the same goes with ties; please avoid anything with pictures!
Grooming: This is simple and easy to do! Brush and style your hair to what suits you best, cut your nails or get them manicured and brush your teeth too. Your hair should be manageable and not look too wild, and please do not put large flowers or other types of ornaments in your hair especially in an interview – it will distract the interviewer. Every work place is different, some prefer men to be clean shaven and other don’t mind, but for an interview it is a good idea to be clean shaven. Some law firms can be quite conservative, if this is the case men should be clean shaven and women with long hair may need to pin it up whilst ensuring they always wear stockings when wearing skirts.
Smile: Offering a warm smile and maintaining eye contact is very important no matter what type of meeting or interview you are in. On that note, make use of the bathroom beforehand and remove any food or lipstick on your teeth, give yourself one last look over to make sure you are looking neat and tidy.
Cue or Target: This is something I personally get embarrassed by at times when getting complimented on my clothes. The most common question asked is where did I buy it and did I purchase this item at some high end expensive retail outlet…. The honest answer is no and consequently I shy away because I know they have been bought from Target (on sale!). There is definitely no need to go out and buy a $500 big brand dress to impress anyone (especially if you do not have the income to support such purchases). Feel confident in what you wear no matter what brand it is, as long as it is clean, ironed and professional there is nothing to be ashamed of!
Feeling confident about your appearance enhances your self-confidence and attitude not only in the workplace but also in a social environment. We encourage everyone to feel comfortable with what they choose to wear but remember, dress for the job you want not the job you have!
Kaleidoscope Legal Recruitment