Study shows that when you walk into an interview, it only takes 30 seconds to make a lasting impression. Also, that the first impression you make on an interviewer really sticks.
In one research, untrained subjects were shown 20 to 32 second videotaped segments of job applicants greeting their interviewers. When the subjects rated the applicants on attributes like self-assurance and likeability, their assessments were very similar to the interviewers' - who had spent more than 20 minutes with each applicant. Study shows that the first few seconds can determine if you would be through or out of the selection list!!!
Your skill & expertise helps you a great deal but at the same time if you take your visual impact lightly your chances of falling flat on your face are really high.
Let’s understand these visual elements to know how we can be mindful about them.
DRESSING – The most important point to note is, you should be dressed as per your role as well as the occasion. For instance, you can’t carry Ranveer Singh’s bold & funky attire and walk into an interview. You would totally look out of place. If you are appearing for a managerial/leadership role interview, your impeccable business formals should speak for it. Even during these Covid times, you cannot be dressed in a casual T-shirt just because you are appearing for the interview out of your home. Believe it or not, the way you are dressed, changes your mindset and brings attentiveness or casualness. You can expect to have a good presence of mind when you are alert. When you dress smartly, you are more productive, look more attentive and energetic. Similarly, for the interviewer you leave the impression of taking the interview seriously if you are perfectly dressed and it reflects your commitment to get the job.
When you are making a choice from your wardrobe, take into account the followings :
1) ROLE – Always take into account the role that you are applying for and the overall culture of your prospective organization. Try to dress a notch above your prospect collegues and subordinates. At the same time make sure you are a notch below your prospect bosses or interviewers(You do not want to come across as intimidating). Do a little research about the company on google and look for photos and videos that might be shared by the employees. This would give you a little vibe about the culture. If not, search through your linkedin and get in touch with your Alumni that might be a part of that organization to get the first hand information.
If the culture in the organization is Business Casual, be sure to dress in business formals for the impact.
In simple words, if the company employees follow a Polo T-shirt and denim, grab a formal shirt and trouser. If its Formal shirt & a trouser – add a waist coat/jacket or atleast a tie to your attire. At the same time, whatever choice you make, its extremely crucial to be confident about your attire decision. In event of slightest doubt dress at par with the culture to avoid being nervous and distracted during the interview about it.
2) CHOICE OF COLORS – If appearing for a leadership role, power dressing should be your choice to make you look Credible, Official and Influential. This would include a light color shirt(White, light Blue – accepted in all settings) teamed with a neutral color suit. You can add a tie of subtle color matching your suit. Stay away from bright colors like a Yellow or a Red or even a bright Pink/Blue. Color white in psychology stands for trustworthiness and sincerity. Neutral coloured suit does not draw too much attention to itselfand makes the person look authoritative and serious.When you choose neutral colors in your suit & tie and combine it with a high contrasting shirt, the attention is immediately drawn to your face(where you want it in a professional environment) . This invariably attracts audiences’ attention to the speaker.
BODY LANGUAGE – Imagine talking over the phone when you are lying down on a sofa, you immediately become relaxed and your tone reflects that. There is a stark difference in your voice and tone when you rather sit erect in a chair in front of the table. You might not realize that but for the listener, it is absolutely clear. While appearing for an online interview, make sure you sit in a proper setting with erect sitting posture. Also, be mindful of your shoulders, they should not slouch. Slouching shoulders send a non-verbal message of being frail, weak and lacking confidence while pushed back shoulders say that you are a “Leader”, follow me.
Needless to say, don’t leave that smile left behind that immediately shows your confidence and relaxed attitude.
GROOMING – People might argue, how would grooming or personal hygiene affect my online meetings in any way. This is not visible as a dress or body language. Well, that’s true that it doesn’t get caught by the onlookers eyes but at the same time has a huge impact on your own mindset. Imagine, when you’ve taken a bath and you smell fresh, hair nicely combed, don’t you immediately feel energetic?
Even when you have been restricted to your home all this while, you cannot be ignorant about your growing beard and hair. A clean shave or a well-trimmed beard talks wonders about you being systematic & care for detail. Don’t forget your nails and be sure that they are well maintained and trimmed as your hands would be the point of highlight with your hand gestures during a video conference.
No bold accessories or funky watches to catch the attention.
So, make sure of taking care of your body & hair before you land yourself into the office chair at home.
POSITIVE MINDSET – A positive mindset always takes you a long way. Take out time and indulge yourself into meditation (min. 10 min. to 1 hr.) to relax your body and mind before launching yourself into the daily routine. This would ensure you are more productive, content and energetic throughout the day with minimum stress.
RIGHT ENVIRONMENT – A bed piled with clothes, a cluttered open wardrobe or a messy table is not a good sight in your background. Make sure to adjust the camera beforehand to grab aclean background, safest bet is to sit in a place with a wall behind for a plain view.
In addition, be aware that the room that you choose has no background noises and double check for your internet connection, video quality and microphone beforehand for last minute anxieties.
Given the current situation of the job market which is adversely hit by Covid globally, there has been a huge spike in the layoffs across industries resulting in tremendous competition for the job seekers.
No matter how technically sound and best suit you may be for the job opportunity, non-adherence to these simple pointers may cost you the opportunity at hand which definitely you cannot afford to miss.
In order to secure a promising job, one needs to clearly stand out in all aspects.Make sure to follow these simplerules to get the most out of the opportunities that are coming your way and “succeed”.
Akanksha Agrawal Founder and Chief Image Consultant,
The Verve Image Consulting