Job Interview Attire

Job Interview Etiquette tips for dressing with WSJ reader tips and a heavy hand from Miss Mentor.

1. Wear well made shoes, spend a bit more than you think you can afford. Women: closed toe and heel for women. Men: no tassels.

2. Suits: A fine suit will cost a little more. Do have it tailored. Gentlemen, choose a darker color though a tan suit can be appropriate. Opt for a blue shirt (not white) if tan suit is clearly appropriate. Ladies, avoid pastels and crimson. Choose a skirt suit over a pantsuit as a pantsuit inspires similar objections as men’s bow ties.

3. Make-up: no fake tans on either men or women. I stopped an interview once with a fellow who’s fake tan icked me out – his concern for appearing to be leisure class ultimately tipped him right out of contention. We have a serious work environment. The mentality of Fake Tanners is unacceptable. Being overly shiny: fake tan, high gloss lipstick, high polish fingernails, can send the message that you care about your appearance to the point of obsession. Look good, but let it be natural. Take out all visible piercings other than one in each ear lobe. Conceal obvious tattoos until you have the green light.

4. General: avoid fashion statements (unless interviewing with a fashion house in the design department – if in the Finance department, rules still apply), TURN OFF YOUR PHONE, discard your gum/mint/candy, roll your shoulders back and sit with pride. If you don’t know how to sit straight, go take a few Pilates classes and figure it out.

5. Your posture can seal your fate: stand and sit relaxed, strong, proud, but not boastful.

Last note: an ascot is not a tie. Ascots are much more informal than ties. Ascots are for hunting, lounging and other non-work activities. Bow ties are likewise not appropriate for interviews though can be appropriate in the office environment.

A personal note as an employer, interesting tattoos don’t bother me a bit, unless you are in certain forms of sales, but a fake tan sends me around the bend. There is nothing artful about a fake tan. It shows a lack of creativity on your part. If I want homogeneous employees, I’ll clone them myself. Same goes for “common” tattoos: butterfly or shamrock on the ankle, etc. The lame tattoos make it blindingly obvious that you have no creativity and are ultimately just as lame and insecure as the fake tan aficianados.

If you have a cool tattoo, keep it and tell me the story. Otherwise, get that thing zapped off before I see it.

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Financial Fluency Series Starts

Guys and Dolls, based on the personal e-mails I receive from you, it is time to unleash the Financial Fluency series (insert maniacal laughter here: BWAHAHAWA!). We’ll start by easing you into a plan of action and then . . .

Do it!

Do it!

Do it!

No room for pussyfooting around. It IS all about you here. Learning how to conduct yourself at the office is all part of your grander scheme, yes? Getting your finances in order is part of the scheme too no doubt. The master page: Building Wealth.

Job Interview Etiquette – Part 3 of 3

Later that day – before you forget who you met and what you discussed, WRITE THANK YOU NOTES! Make them personal. If you had more than 5 words with someone, you want them to remember you AND to ADVOCATE for you. Demonstrating good job interview etiquette opens doors.

Yes, a hand written note is still the best idea. What? Your handwriting looks like chicken scratch. . . . hmmm, I hear ya. Mine does too. But when it comes to writing a note, nothing replaces the charm of a handwritten note. So slow it down and do your best to channel your handwriting instructor from days of yore. ummmm, Mrs. Easterling, mmmmmm.

Okay, so you’ve broken both wrists in a terrible football tailgating accident (true story!). Well then, use your word processor to crank out the notes. They will be doubly impressed with your good job interview etiquette.

Now what? Well, give the postal service a few days to deliver your notes (7-10 days). Then follow up with a BRIEF phone call to your original contact unless you’ve been asked to follow up with someone else. If you have been specifically told, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” then back off buddy, no phone calls. And when I say brief . . . no kidding, keep it to 7 minutes or less, UNLESS they reject you and are willing to give you feedback – then soak it in so you can improve.

What if it has been 3-4 weeks with no further word? Well, I’m afraid them’s the breaks kid. The firm may have moved on without the kindness of letting you know (bastards!) or they may be stringing you along. It is also possible they just have not made up their minds and too much is going on with running the business to make a decision right now. Be patient. Good job interview etiquette means being smooth, not panicy.

If it has been more than 2 weeks since last communications AND you were NOT given a specific time line for a decision, ONLY then should you call your point of contact again to follow up. If he/she does not return your call within 3 days, let it be. It’s like that crush in high school who spoke to you once but then ignored you the rest of the year…. Move on, move on.

Need specific advice on Job Interview Etiquette? Contact us and we may choose your question for the Q&A grab bag in the Essential Life E-zine! Note the level of urgency in your request – we try to please!

Job Interview Etiquette – Part 2 of 3

EXECUTE the plan.

Job Interview Etiquette Top 10:
1. Be on time. Give yourself enough time to get there and plan for traffic or elephants falling from the sky – it happened once in Miami….

2. When you arrive at the place for your interview, be ready for the interview. Let me repeat that, BE READY FOR THE INTERVIEW. This is NOT the time to take a call from someone else. This is NOT the time to check your Blackberry. This is NOT the time to look at material for your next interview. Be in the moment with THIS interview. Give it 100%.

3. Always act like a guest.Treat those who greet you courteously, not curtly. In some organizations the receptionist contributes remarks on your candidacy…. You’ve been warned.

Good job interview etiquette means act like a guest but not a sycophant. Don’t bring the brownies your mom baked until the third round of interviews. Got it? Good.

4. Display good personal hygiene. Teeth brushed, hair combed, clean hands? You sassy beast. Well . . . get to it!

5. Don’t open doors, enter rooms or otherwise take command unless/until invited to do so. If you are currently working for a competitor there will be things you do not need to see. Respect the wishes of your potential employer. Unless you’re really just job-hunting as a ploy to check out your competitor . . .

6. DO NOT use job-hunting as a ploy to sneak in all spy-like for photos of top secret documents from your shoe camera unless your name is Bond, James Bond. The world is not enough to protect you from the wrath that will ensue. While you only live twice, your professional circle is TOO small for you to try this tactic more than once. Dr. NO!

7. Check your ego at the door. Make the recruiter, human resource contact aware before the interview(s) start if you have a potential emergency brewing (i.e wife is expecting any minute, DISASTEROUS crisis at current job). Then it will be acceptable to check your phone BETWEEN (never during) interview sessions.

8. KEEP YOUR COMMITMENTS! The person interviewing you may have traveled long and far just to meet with you, particularly if you are interviewing for a top spot. Unless you are in the hospital incapacitated, GET THEE to the Interview!

If you no longer wish to interview, give at least 24 hours notice. If that is not possible, let your interviewer know in person. The world is perilously small, your behavior will be remembered and shared, good and bad, particularly bad….

9.Watch your language! Even if you are a guy interviewing to be a trader for Big Bank X, watch your language. Expletives though used in some work environments are NOT appropriate DURING the interview. You may get away with it at the drink fest that night, but NEVER in the office.

Seriously. Expletives = BAD job interview etiquette.

Miss Mentor: “I’ve been in the construction world and the finance world and both rely on expletives to get through the day, but if a candidate used one in an interview – game over. “

10. Remember, they said yes to an interview with you. Don’t make them feel like fools for doing so. Let your best side shine! Show them you can make their bottom line sing. Be the rockstar you are!

Job Interview Etiquette – Part 1 of 3

Is it hot in here or is it you….
You’re so hot they are beating down doors to get to you! With your job interview etiquette mad skilz, they’ll be panting for more. Sweet anticipation….

Job Interview etiquette is an essential weapon in your arsenal. Consider the interview a project.

As any good project manager, you will PLAN for the project, ASSEMBLE the necessary resources, EXECUTE and follow-up post project.

You have the interview so the PLAN is done. If you have NOT been asked to interview (yet), look to the CAREER section for job hunting tips.

Time to ASSEMBLE resources. What resources? Good job interview etiquette includes the things that make one a good interviewer.

RESEARCH! Know the company and the person interviewing you. Read their financial statements if you are interviewing for any job involved with management. Watch/read/see their ads particularly if you are interviewing for a marketing position – understand why they choose different ads in different neighborhoods for example. It is down right RUDE to walk into an interview without this knowledge.

ATTIRE! It is better to overdress (though not to an extreme) than to under dress. If you are unsure of your outfit, please look to PERSONA for advice on developing style. A black suit with clean, simple lines that FITS you is almost always appropriate.

WHATEVER IT TAKES to get you there. Literally, make sure your car is in working order if you’ll be driving. Make sure your toaster is working if you’ll be having toast that morning. Make sure to mitigate as many surprises as possible.