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Job interviews: Are you dressed right?
Gauri Mitra
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March 06, 2007

The project manager of a top IT company in Pune felt distinctly put off when a candidate turned up for a job interview -- in a white floral-print shirt and a pair of jeans.

She felt that the casual dress indicated a casual attitude.

In other words, you may be ready for the questions. But are you dressed for success?

No doubt appearance isn't everything.

But when you get the 'The' call from your dream company and all that's standing between you and the job is the dreaded interview, a few grooming rules could ensure that you do not lose out to an equally competent candidate because of the way you were dressed.

What to wear

It is better to stick to formals for both men and women in basic colours like white, beige, cream, navy blue and black.

Formal trousers and shirts of sober hues are suitable for both sexes. Women also have the option of donning formal salwar-kameez suit or even a sari.

If wearing a sari, make generous use of pins to keep the folds together. Similarly for salwar-suits pin the dupatta to the left shoulder of the dress to avoid any embarrassing slip-ups.

If you are ever in doubt about whether a dress is appropriate or not, remember that it is better to dress conservatively.

What not to wear

A word of wise: Leave your denims, see-through shirts and baseball caps for a casual do.

Ditto with the blameless T-shirt. Opt for a formal collared shirt instead.

Avoid bright colours like orange, purple, pink and red; they may compel your interviewer to put on sunglasses.

Men should steer clear of fancy belts or attention-drawing ties. Though ties are not compulsory, if you must wear one, make sure it is plain and not patterned.

Women wearing salwar-suits should steer clear of bling -- no tinkle-bells, sequins and the like.

Though sleeveless dresses are not taboo, it's better to play it safe and wear short or three-quarter sleeves.

Don't wear a new dress on the day of the interview, unless you are very comfortable in it. Poor fitting or any other last-minute problems may cause discomfort. You certainly don't want to be caught fussing with your outfit.

Wear something that you are confident looks good on you.


Elaborate hairpins, ruffles and ribbons are a no-no for a personal interview.

Keep jewellery to a minimum. You want to dazzle your interviewer with your answers, not your jewellery. If you regularly wear a heavy gold chain, tuck it inside your shirt or dress.

Avoid wearing bracelets or too many gangles that are likely to jingle when you move your hands. A senior HR consultant from Mumbai once interviewed a lady whose bracelets tinkled all throughout the discussion. Needless to say, her trinkets only served to distract the HR manager who rejected her subsequently.

Men, please ensure that your shoes are polished and that your feet are encased in a clean pair of socks. Avoid wearing sports shoes.

Most importantly, remember to switch off your cell phone or keep it in silent mode. There is nothing more distracting than the sound of a ringtone in the midst of a vital discussion.

Hair tales

A senior manager with a prominent manufacturing firm felt his attending a job interview at a Fortune 500 company, sporting a macho stubble probably didn't create the best impression. The quizzical looks on the faces of the interviewers suggested they didn't approve, regardless of his sound managerial skills. Men should be clean-shaven and could sport a close-cropped hairstyle.

Women with long hair should tie a ponytail or style it in a neat bun. In either case, keep hair away from any part of the face.

The scent of success

Given the warm weather conditions in India, it's best to apply a deodorant after a shower. Remember to spray it on your skin and not on your clothes.

A senior recruitment consultant in Singapore narrates how a candidate who appeared for an interview at a top investment bank was rejected due to bad breath and body odour.

Most people are unaware of their own body odour, so use it even if you believe you smell as sweet as a rose.

At the same time, don't overdo it by drenching yourself in perfume.

Dressing-up extras

Stick to subdued colours, when it comes to nail polish. Or better still try a clear nail polish.

Remove chipped nail colour and make sure your nails are not chipped.

These simple rules will ensure that the interview panel sees you for what you are -- a smart, clean-cut professional.

-- Gauri Mitra is a project leader with a well-known IT company.

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