Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What to Wear to Your Next Interview

Research proves that 65% of all communication is visual.  What are your clothes saying about your personal brand?

By Robin Fisher Roffer

I’m off to New York this week to land a major piece of business, meet with my agent to deliver my latest book and give a speech to career professionals.  I’m completely prepared to “wow” everyone I’m seeing with the content I’ve created, but without looking the part of “World-Class Brand Strategist,” no one will listen to a word I say. 
To make sure that I’m seen and heard, I carved out a couple of hours on Sunday laying out each outfit – carefully considering my mostly media-savvy audience. I thought about what they would respond to and feel comfortable with.  Then I mixed all the pieces in unexpected ways in keeping with my personal brand.  In the suitcase went a red sleeveless dress with a lightweight long beige jacket, a tailored dark grey Jackie-O type dress cinched with a studded leather obi and funky black jacket.  For casual client dinners, I threw in a pair of skinny jeans and some fun tops to go under the jackets.  Everything went into one small bag so I could carry on.
If I were a guy doing the same business trip, I would have packed two closely cut suits with crisp dress shirts in unexpected colors.  No tie.  I’d make sure that my watch and eyeglasses (if I wore them) were the latest style.  I would be conscious to not look old school or worn.  I’d show up in the NYC relevant and of-the-moment.
If I were in a more conservative field such as finance, politics or law, I would pack two beautifully tailored suits neatly folded between sheets of tissue with tasteful accessories that tell the world, “I’m confident about who I am. I have a unique approach and bold ideas.”    
When getting dressed for a big meeting or interview, it’s important to align with the company culture and visually relate to it with your own unique expression.  It’s also key to think about the part of the world you’ll be in.  For example, when doing business in Los Angeles, I lighten my look and wear high heels.  If I’m in the south, I put on strong colors and statement jewelry.  My goal is always to fit in without blending in.
Why should you go to so much trouble packaging yourself for your next interview with such clear intention?  Because you’re branded the minute you walk in the door, so you never want to give anyone a reason to say “no” based on your appearance.  That’s why when professionals come to me for private career-building workshops; we always go shopping as part of the experience.  In doing so, they create a personal brand that’s authentic inside and out. 
How you dress for an interview should express your professionalism and creative energy – fearlessly communicating your personal brand at-a-glance.   
So… does your dress say schoolteacher when it needs to say business development?  Does your hair say wild child when it needs to say capable executive? Does your computer bag say accountant when it needs to say Web designer?  Are you wearing jeans to interviews when a suit or adding a great jacket would speak volumes about your professionalism?
Research shows that 65% of all communication is visual, so if you are not looking the part you play with your own special flair then you may be running the risk of being forgettable. And, in this tough job market, that is not something you want to be.
Robin Fisher Roffer, founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, is America's leading personal brand strategist for executive level career professionals. She's the best selling author of 3 books including The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You're The Only One Like You. Discover Robin's secret formula for igniting your career with a personal brand at 8 Steps To Igniting Your Personal Brand.

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