Karen Bolda: The trials of job hunting
Everything you say, do, and yes, wear, are factors used to determine if you will fit into this position. The interviewers want to figure out how well you would fit in with their existing team. Your goal is to dress just a little bit nicer than the interviewers. You don't want to overdress, because you want to demonstrate that you know and can fit into the culture of the company. But you don't want to under dress; because you want to show that you take this interview seriously and want the job.
Are you dressed in a fancy expensive suit, and they are dressed in khaki and flannel? You don't look like someone that fits into their team. Even worse is if you are the one dressed in flannel and they are in the suit! Not only do you look like you wouldn't fit in, you look like you are not serious about the job.
How do you figure out what the style of a company is? The best way is to get an actual look. Hand deliver your application, and check out what everyone is wearing as you walk through. If that isn't an option, then you can call and ask. Be aware that one person's "business casual" is another person's "suit and tie." You can get around this by asking specifically if a suit and tie (or business suit) would be appropriate. If they dress more casually, they are sure to say something like "that might be a bit dressed up for this office."
Don't let your appearance be a distraction. You want your appearance to be briefly noticed, and then forgotten. The focus needs to be on what you are saying, not how you smell, the lipstick on your teeth, your 2-inch-long nails, your overly large belt buckle, your gym socks with your dress shoes "¦ you get the idea. Err on the side of conservative.
Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Contact her at (541) 890-1883, or firstname.lastname@example.org.