Dress to Impress In the Hot Seat

In this economy all of us could use some interview tips

By MaryBeth La Motte
|  Saturday, Sep 26, 2009  |  Updated 3:44 PM CDT
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Dress to Impress In the Hot Seat

Dressing for success can make all the difference.

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A lot of us are interviewing these days -- whether for full-time professional positions, as students or simply to meet someone and gather information.  Making a good first impression is vital. Rita Fornino, executive recruiter of Garrison-Randall Executive Search Firm, offers some tips. As one of the most successful recruiters in health care administration and with over 21 years of experience, her advice is worth its weight in interview gold.



The Basics:
Arrive 10 minutes early. 
Bring a few copies of your resume; you never know whom you will end up meeting.
Maintain good eye contact. Offer a firm handshake.  



Conservative Attire is Always Best:
For men:  a dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie and polished shoes.  Hair should be neatly styled.  If necessary, get a haircut in advance.


For women: a conservative suit (pants or skirt), or a dress with a blazer. Avoid short skirts. Wear hose regardless of the temperature, closed toe shoes, a neat purse and limited jewelry -- large and dangling earrings are not for interviews.  If you are unsure, show your planned ensemble to someone you trust. 

Most importantly, show up feeling confident about your clothes.

Teresa Williamson (seen with Nancy Pelosi below) demonstrates an appropriate interview ensemble styled by Karen Tamblyn of RedCarpetSF:

BCBG white shirt with added black ribbons: $139
Zara  jacket: $79
Zara pencil skirt: $39

Preparation:
Sit down the night before an interview and note 3-5 of your strengths and achievements, so that when you are prepared for the inevitable, "Tell me about yourself.”

The employer’s questions are likely going to be those that are best answered with examples, so take time to consider some responses.  Keep them brief and to the point. 

Make note of one or two potential weaknesses you might have and think of ways to turn them into positives.  For example, some people say they dislike doing paper work. A positive to that negative is that paperwork takes time away from working with clients.  Importantly, recognize that the paperwork gets done and always on time.



Keep it Positive:
Do not disparage your former employers; instead share your respect for them or their work, or both.  Do not ramble in your answers. 

Pay Attention:
Watch the interviewer's body language, listen to his or her tone of voice and the speed at which they speak, and mirror them.  People tend to like people who are similar to them selves.



Closing:
When you feel the interview is drawing to a close make a statement similar to, “Well, you certainly know more about me, and I have very much enjoyed meeting you.  Regarding this opportunity, is there anything in my background or experience which would prevent me from getting this position?”  This allows you to immediately address, and hopefully turn around, any concerns. 



End the interview by asking about the next step.

With these rules in your arsenal you should have no problem landing the right position for you. Good luck!

Marybeth La Motte writes for RedCarpetSF

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