Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

  | James Innes

The way you physically present yourself will make an impression on an interviewer before you even have a chance to open your mouth. Present yourself professionally and the interviewer will see you as a professional – but the opposite also applies. Never forget that you are marketing yourself – and the way you present yourself can have an impact on the interviewer that is almost as powerful as what you actually have to say for yourself.

Presentation can make all the difference between success and failure. Image is everything! In a recent poll, a majority of recruiters cited dressing inappropriately or scruffily as the most damaging mistake a candidate can make in an interview. Candidates with bad breath or unkempt hair are also not uncommon – and often blow their chances of selection before even entering the interview room.

Research has shown that your interviewer could well have made up their mind about you within just 30 seconds of having met you. Use this to your advantage.

There are no hard and fast rues as to what people should wear, but there are some general precepts which should be followed.

For everyone:

Make sure that you have an outfit that is smart, presentable – and fits you well.

Clothes that can be ironed or pressed certainly should be.

Clean and polish your shoes – we know of at least one interviewer who would automatically discount a candidate with dirty shoes.

Wash and brush your hair.

Cut and file your nails.

Remove any facial piercings.

Unless it’s really hot, you should generally keep your jacket on.

If you wear perfume or aftershave apply it subtly – don’t overpower the interviewer!


For the ladies:

Keep clothes plain and classic in style, avoiding fancy colours, motifs and logos.

Dress conservatively – skirts shouldn’t be too short; dresses shouldn’t be too low-cut.

Keep make-up to a sensible minimum, aiming for fresh but neutral colours.

Jewellery should be discreet and not overly showy.

Hair clips and bands, etc. should be kept to a functional minimum.


For the gents:

For most circumstances, you can’t beat a smart, dark suit.

Remain conservative in your choice of shirt colour – stick to shades of white and blue.

Keep ties simple. Avoid fancy colours, motifs and logos.

Get your hair cut. Short hair is generally seen as more professional than long hair.

Aim for a clean-shaven look. If you have a beard or moustache makes sure it is trimmed.

Limit the amount of jewellery you wear. Avoid earrings.


The day before your interview try on your whole outfit to make sure that there are no drooping hems, buttons missing, etc.

Dress appropriately for the circumstances. Your prospective employer’s dress policy may be casual, but save your fashion statements until after you get the job. Fashion makes too many victims. Dress at least as well as you would when actually turning up to do the job – preferably better. Even software engineers and physicists have been known to wear suits to interviews!

If you feel that you have made an effort and look good, then you will come across as more confident and relaxed during the interview. Make the effort to look clean and smart – if you present yourself well it will make a good impression on the interviewer.

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