I would like to revisit one aspect of the interview process as it is getting hotter and summer being practically here. I have already addressed proper interview tactics and preparation, but what to do in the summer? As you commute to work, it seems everyone has already adopted the “Cool Biz” look and perhaps you also have the ability to dress down in the hotter months in your current company.
Yet again, I am very “old school” when it comes to interviews and expect candidates to show they care about being selected to interview by being appropriately dressed. Through our normal business operations and activities, there are well over 100 client and internal interviews, both with small organizations and global companies, each and every week. Even though some companies do have a casual dress policy and many incorporating “cool biz” they do appreciate candidates that make an effort to be professional and dress for the role. It is a privilege to be invited to meet with the company you are interested in and I encourage all to demonstrate your appreciation via your appearance.
So, here are my suggestions for interviewing this summer.
1. Always dress appropriately
A suit and tie (yes, suit and tie) for gentleman and a suit or other professional dress for ladies. You can never be criticized for “over dressing” but you will be, without a doubt, for underdressing.
What to do if you are currently working in a casual dress environment with an interview scheduled for after work? “Pack” a business jacket (and tie if applicable) neatly into your bag as to not set off alarm bells by showing up to work looking like you are interviewing. Wear a long sleeved dress shirt that day (role up the sleeves if you need to). Then, after work and before your interview, straighten yourself up, put on your tie if applicable and carry your business jacket to your interview destination.
For the creative and artists? If you are interviewing for a position that is known to despise “suits,” I would still advise to dress professionally. A nice blazer, slacks and clean shoes make a difference. You can always tuck in a crazy colored pocket square or wear your hot pink socks to show your creativity whilst remaining professional.
2. Always arrive early
I advise to arrive 30 minutes early. If the company you are interviewing with has a large reception area, sit there and wait 5 minutes before your interview time, then proceed to reception. If the company you are visiting does not have a large lobby, then find a nearby smoke free venue that has air-conditioning. This will allow you plenty of time to cool off and look fresh. Nothing is worse than a candidate running to an interview, barely making it on time, then sweating throughout the entire interview. This is a big put off and makes you look and feel more nervous (and this is definitely not what you want). This extra time also allows you to clear your mind, review the job description and to mentally rehearse your answers to expected questions from the interviewer.
If you still feel hot (some interview rooms are boiling), ask permission from the interviewer if you may take off your jacket. This shows respect and manners, all good traits employers are looking for.
Bring a bottle of water just in case and keep it in your bag (do not put it on the table as you sit down). Most companies will offer refreshments, but depending on your interview time, some receptions close at either 5:00PM or 6:00PM, and with everyone’s busy schedule, there is a chance you may not be offered a drink. If this is the case and before you get dry mouth, ask the interviewer if you may drink some water that you brought.
I love sunglasses and wear them everywhere. They are a great way to protect your eyes from the sun and in my case, since they are prescription lenses, allow me to see! However, no one wants to see “Tom Cruise” or “The Terminator” visiting their reception desk, or worse, walking the halls of the company with sunglasses on. Prior to arrival, put them away, period.
5. Handkerchief or Hand towels
These are a must, especially in August! Make sure you have one to use if necessary. Most importantly, make sure it is simple and ideally one color and pattern-less. You don’t want to pull out a hand towel with a big picture of “I Heart Namie Amuro” on it as you wipe your forehead. I love Amuro-chan, but not during interviews.
Summer is here, the days are longer and although it can be hot and muggy, don’t let a little heat prevent you from having an amazing interview. I do hope some of these simple tips help during your summer interviews and I wish you the best in your interviews and career selections!