I am on vacation and not even on American soil. It is a vastly different milieu in almost every respect. I find myself continuously comparing, contrasting, judging, and labeling people. Of course, this continuous chatter is only in my head. I don’t share it with anyone, God forbid.
But isn’t that what we do in all instances when we see people? It’s even more critical when you go in for an interview. As a career coach, I counsel people every day—not only on how to answer interview questions correctly and how to avoid interview traps but also on how to let your body communicate the message you want to convey. Hiring managers and human resources folks read your body language and can tell whether there’s congruence between what you say in words and what your body says in motions.
Part of my coaching covers how to dress properly for an interview. I use an evaluation system to make sure you convey the right image. Men are faced with less of an issue on this subject than women are. It doesn’t cause me pleasure to tell clients to upgrade their clothing to fit the 21st century. Or to replace their large-size eyeglass frame with something more contemporary. Or to rethink their outdated hairstyle. Or even simply to get a haircut. An interviewee’s shoes need to be polished, and socks better match. But all of that is only part of the image a job candidate leaves behind and which will heavily influence the impression made on others. The words the interviewee uses are important too, but even that is not all. The overall image—the total impression—is what will be remembered.
My advice is that you ask a trusted source to tell you the truth about the impression you make and the image you leave behind. Family members are not the right people to ask. And don’t jeopardize a friendship by asking the wrong question and causing unease or embarrassment. It’s best to hire a career coach who is paid for giving such advice.
by Alex Freund