All of us know how important first impressions are. However not all of us realize that “first impression” is formed within first 7 seconds.
First impressions can often play a crucial role in our lives: both personal and professional. For the sake of argument, let’s take a look at job interviews. Our appearance when we show up for an interview marks the moment when a hiring committee starts forming an opinion about us — and then how we handle ourselves and respond to their questions solidifies their judgments. As withstanding the process of an interview is usually most challenging at the beginning of a career path, managing your look to feel comfortable and confident throughout the process is key. We spoke with Ana Maria, who recently came to Warsaw from her sunny Croatia and went through this stressful process.
Although after only a couple interviews job seekers cannot become experts on the process, Ana Maria still has some valuable advice to give.
– The interview process is a stressful experience so I would be happy if by sharing my experience I could ease up someone else’s "What to wear?" part of it. As “business wear essentials” is a pretty well covered topic, I will share some of my tips on what worked, or didn’t work that well for me.
– To start with, regarding person-to-person interviews, I would definitely make sure that whatever I wear is neat and clean. Whether that is an ironed shirt and suit or freshly polished shoes and a bag. Moreover, I really like when my suit and shirt fit just right - the length, the width, everything. My apparel has to be appropriate for my body type, as the interview is definitely not the time to be thinking about my physical insecurities. One of my personal favorites is a suit with high-waisted trousers - then I don’t have to worry about my shirt remaining neatly tucked in. I also like my shirts to be classic with a twist. When it comes to skirts/dresses, I am definitely not the right person to ask, but I would say that I prefer skirts, as they are more versatile. I pay special attention to the fabric: not only to the quality of the fabric but to its fit for the specific season. By that I mean not wearing a summer shirt with winter suit (or the other way around). Being quite short myself, I put on heels when wearing dresses and this is possibly one of the main reasons why I stick to pantsuits, so that I can wear oxford shoes or ballet flats. More comfortable shoes are especially handy if you happen to be having an interview during a Warsaw winter, on the morning when it starts snowing.
– Shoes and accessories are key part of her look: “Shoes and bags are actually my favorite parts of the whole outfit, because that is where I let myself be a bit more creative. A colleague of mine once asked me if I “owned a normal pair of shoes," and I don't blame him. Of course, I, humble as I am, took it as a compliment. I also like when my bag matches my shoes. When that is not feasible (for any reason), I like to tie a matching foulard on the handle of my bag, or around the neck (inner side of the collar).
In addition to outfits she finds hair and makeup to speak for itself: – My makeup is definitely not Lisa Eldridge (editor’s note: professional make up artist working with many of the world class models, magazines and brands), but I like to stick to the same rule of keeping it clean and simple! In the end, it’s not a night out, nor a chance to show off my artistic talents. In the very end it is important to remember the reason for which I am at the interview, and the image of me that I aim to leave them with. Another little note to remember when applying a perfume: following you someone else has to survive a ride in the elevator.
– What is there left but to say - Good Luck! – Ana Maria says at the end. And we are with her on this. When dressed appropriately resulting comfort and confidence, the only thing left to do is to control your emotions and display your skills!
A note from Ana Maria:
To my Sister Andrea, even though she never let me wear her clothes.