“I can’t recommend we hire him. His suit was wrinkled and the sleeves of his jacket were too long. His presentation just wasn’t right.” This was an admission of a fellow HR staffing manager, telling me all about her disastrous interview with a job candidate. I knew her to be a reasonable judge of a candidate’s fit for a job; it’s not as if she was expecting a male model looking as if he was fresh off the runway. But, she was looking for someone who knew how to present themselves well in an interview setting. She was looking for the full package – someone with the right skills and background, but also someone who had the dress, communication style, and mannerisms to get the job, and keep it. These presentation factors are the things we all need to be mindful of as we go through a job search, and even after we get the job. How we present ourselves over time will form the basis for our reputation at work.
Presenting Yourself on Interview Day
It is a sad fact, but there are still a number of professional, smart capable people who still need help in getting prepared for an interview. Interviewers’ first impressions are often the most lasting impressions, and like it or not, sometimes without even knowing it, they often rely on almost all of their senses – smell, sight, touch, hearing – to form an assessment of a job candidate’s fit for a particular role. This means that when you go on an interview, give a firm handshake, but not one that says you’re trying to wrestle your interviewer to the floor. You love wearing gold jewelry? Leave most of it at home and wear one piece to the interview. Likewise, if you always feel your best and most confident wearing a few spritzes of your Chanel No. 5 – let your trigger finger rest easy and instead wait until after the interview to wear the perfume. This is not because you shouldn’t be yourself on an interview, but rather you want to do anything you can to avoid any conscious or unconscious biases on the part of the interviewer. It’s not just about presenting your best self, but about presenting the best part of yourself that will make you most attractive as a job candidate.
Presentation Skills on the Job: Building Your Reputation
When we go about our daily work routines, we want to present ourselves professionally, but we also want to be ourselves and be comfortable at work. After all, now that you’ve got the job, you just want to stay focused, do your job, and let your results speak for themselves. But, there’s more to success on the job than that. Just like there’s more to developing good presentation skills than standing up in front of a group and hitting all the points on your cue cards. The presentation of you at work is a constant, never-ending journey that ultimately results in the reputation you’re building and how you will be known and perceived by others. Your reputation will be the lasting and most important commentary about you, your performance, and how you present yourself.
Building a reputation at work is influenced by the way you treat others, in each of the little and big one-on-one interactions you have everyday. How we communicate with others is the presentation factor that will most influence the type of reputation we build at work. Our emails, phone conversations, and in-person interactions all speak to what kind of person we are to work with, and tell our co-workers whether we’re understanding, trustworthy, effective or competent.
So the next time you’re tempted to blast someone in an email because they’ve made an inflammatory comment, when instead it would be better to address it firmly and calmly over the phone or in person, ask yourself what kind of reputation you want to build. How do you want to present yourself to the people you work with? As a short-tempered meanie with a vindictive streak, or as an even-tempered professional who knows how to address her frustrations with diplomacy and calm? Either way, your reputation is built, in part, on your responses to the frustrations that will always be present in some form in your career. The challenge is determining how to manage these frustrations, and at the same time present yourself in the best light.
by Melanie Haniph