By Sarah Bergen
College students spend hours studying and taking on leadership roles in an attempt to fill their résumés with impressive feats. However, when the day of an important job interview comes, they must also take the time to look the part.
According to research carried out by the New York University Graduate School of Business, first impressions are made in only seven seconds. The study concluded that within that minuscule time, people come to conclusions regarding personal traits such as professional desirability, trustworthiness and sexual orientation, to name a few.
“Your professional appearance is very important,” said Lauren Nicolosi, career adviser for Liberal Arts and Sciences. “You will quickly make a first impression with employers and will want it to be a good one. Career Services offers a few workshops each year on Dress for Success which help students have a sense of what is and what is not appropriate attire for work and for interviews.”
If employers are judging applicants before they even glance at their résumés, those applicants must do their best to make a positive first impression. A perfect place to start this project is the closet or the mall.
According to Career Services’ Dress for Success Guide, for both men and women, a clean, freshly pressed suit is a key staple for a job interview. An ideal suit is simple, yet stylish. Women can wear pants or a knee-length skirt. Dark, solid colors are preferred. Pops of color can be added to other aspects of interview attire through more subtle accessories, like pocket squares and jewelry.
Men should pair their suits with long-sleeved collared shirts. A touch of personality can be added with a colorful silk tie. Try to avoid crazy designs – keep it simple.
Women should wear a simple, modest shirt. Scarves can add a little color, but keep all accessories minimal.
A professional look must be present from head to toe. A potential employer may get the wrong idea from the smallest of details – even socks.
Keep hairstyles simple and clean. Women should wear their hair down and natural. Men should make sure their hair is neatly combed, and should keep facial hair minimal. Everyone should avoid drowning their interviewer with cologne or perfume.
Shoes should always be solid, dark and polished. Men’s dress shoes should be black or brown and should match their belts. Socks should be long and should not be visible when sitting down.
Women’s shoes should be closed-toed and comfortable. Avoid stilettos or shoes that may cause an embarrassing fall. Women should also keep their makeup and nail polish natural. Also, purses should be left in the car.
Some perfect accessories to accentuate professional attire are good posture, a smile and strong eye contact. With a professional outfit, a strong résumé and a positive attitude, college students can have a chance of standing out, even in a gloomy job market.
“It is critical that you make a strong, professional first impression on a potential employer because it determines the fate of your interaction with the employer,” said Kevin Fallon, director of career services. “Employers are looking for well-polished, well-prepared candidates who will reflect well upon their organization.”
Printed in the 10/30/13 edition.