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How Does Appearance Affect an Interview?

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Image is Everything

While we'd all love to dishonestly claim that appearance doesn't account for much, we all acknowledge that, despite our best efforts, we use appearances to make judgments and assumptions, especially in the professional arena. When it comes to interviews, your appearance is your first impression. If you make the wrong first impression, it doesn't really matter if you were the top in your graduating class or saved your previous employers millions because by the time the interview gets to that point, the interviewer's mind is already made up about you, accurate or not.

Again, you are going to initially be judged solely by your appearance. Since you are assumed to be looking your best, if your best isn't up to par with the company's standards, you'll have a hard time convincing the hiring manager you are right for the job.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

At the interview, your clothes, manners and mannerisms are all on display. Within the first 60 seconds, your self-confidence and ability to present yourself is assessed, don't let your appearance hinder your capability to accurately promote yourself.

Model the part of a professional job seeker by Modeling your clothes after their company dress code; Wearing clothes free of wrinkles and stains; Having trimmed and clean fingernails; Having clean and tidy hair; Not wearing excessive jewelry or perfume/cologne; Polishing shoes so they are scuff-free; Choosing clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident; Covering up tattoos and removing any body piercings; and Not talking on your cell phone or listening to your iPod in the waiting area.

Appearance is More Than What You Wear

At a job interview, your appearance is more than the clothes you wear; it also includes projecting the correct non-verbal communication. Your body and body language should exemplify professionalism. In addition to promoting your capabilities through fashion, you also want to showcase your professionalism through your body language such as: Maintaining a pleasant face; Having a firm handshake; Sitting up straight; Establishing friendly eye contact; and Sustaining inviting body language.

The Harm in Not Dressing for Success

Just because you've secured the interview, doesn't mean you've secured the job. If you are serious about the job then you need to be serious about your appearance during your interview. A poor impression due to your appearance could cost you any further employment considerations.

When interviewing, think of yourself as a book -- you will be judged by your cover. Overall grooming and attire should be clean, tidy and neat without being overdone. Any lack in your appearance, consequently, will negatively influence the employer to not consider you further. By putting your best foot forward you are demonstrating your professionalism, organization, confidence and capabilities and you stand a better chance of gaining employment.

Remember, image is everything, and perception is reality. Make sure your image conveys an accurate perception of you.


Leslie Whittaker has been a published writer, graphic designer and communications consultant since 2002. Published works include articles in "Professional Car Wash & Detailing" and "Statis" magazine as well as copy writing for numerous web sites including,, and Whittaker holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from the University of North Carolina.