When You See These Tips, You Will Rethink How You Present Yourself in a Job Interview


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Appearance can make or break your chances of landing a job in an instant. An April 2015 study from the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that 52 percent of interviewers make their decision about a candidate in the first 5 to 15 minutes of the job interview.

When considering the presence you want to exude, you have to find a balance. It’s crucial to look at every detail of your appearance and behavior, but you also don’t want to overthink things too much.

You want to be honest and authentic, celebrating who you are while feeling good about your appearance. There are no wrong answers when it comes to your appearance because every interviewer is different. However, you do want to dress to impress and carry yourself confidently so you stand out as top talent.

Pay attention to two very important aspects of your presence — attire and body language. Here’s how to present your best self and nail your next job interview:


When picking what you want to wear, you should focus on every detail, no matter how small it may seem.


Believe it or not, colors make a significant impression on us. Buy Tshirts Online conducted a survey, where 56 percent of the 1000 participants agreed that black exudes confidence the most, with red and blue following close behind.

Focus on selecting colors that have positive connotations. Avoid brown and orange, since they represent a lack of intellect. Pink and yellow are also at the bottom of the list.

Ultimately, you want to dress in a way that best represents who you are. If you are energetic and lively, consider dynamic color combinations with your shirt and tie or your blouse and shoes. If you’re reserved and composed, stick to traditional colors like white and black.

Choice of Clothing

What style or level should you dress to? Always aim higher. Showing up in jeans and a t-shirt while meeting an interviewer who is wearing a suit is a bad way to start out. Under-dressing is one of the worst mistakes to make during a job interview.

Even when you’re applying for a casual dress or blue collar job like a janitor or working in maintenance, you need to show some professionalism. Dress up, not down. Show respect for the interviewer, the company, and the entire process, but most importantly, yourself.

Research the fashion of the industry. You can even call and inquire about dress codes so you look like you belong. For example, if it’s casual, you may be fine wearing nice jeans and a casual button down shirt. Perhaps the laid back culture prefers to see you in a relaxed manner where you can be the most genuine.

When in doubt, be cautious with your style. Men and women both need to lean toward being conservative. You’re not going to impress anyone with brand name,skin tight jeans or backless dresses. If you appear too revealing or rely too much on trendy styles, you may disqualify yourself.

The Little Things

Before you head out the door, run through a checklist of the small details. Ensure that you’re keeping things simple, like makeup, jewelry, and hairstyle.

Look at your shoes. They should be clean, devoid of scuffs and holes, and should follow a similar style protocol as your clothing — shorter, conservative heels for women and formal, closed toe shoes for men

Finally, use cologne and perfume sparingly. Don’t chew gum or reek of tobacco. If you need an accessory, make sure it’s classic and simple — small handbags, light briefcases, or a thin portfolio.

Body Language

Use body language to your advantage during the interview process to subtly impress your interviewer and convey confidence.


The perfect way to kick off a successful job interview — a firm handshake. Keep it natural and just be yourself. If you squeeze too hard and hold it too long, you seem aggressive. If you are too limp and pull out quickly, you seem timid and scared.

Find your balance and maintain a calm, confident presence.

Eye Contact

This is one of the most important body language exercises. Engage with the interviewers and look them in the eyes while you converse. It shows confidence, respect, and strengthens the connection you’re making.


Overall, you want to exude a positive, enthusiastic, confident essence. Aside from a firm handshake and consistent eye contact, you want to focus on how you carry yourself.

Keep your posture upright and chin up to appear confident. In fact, standing up straight actually makes you feel more confident.

A September 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland and published in Health Psychology found that standing up straight reduces stress. Upright participants said that they felt less fear, higher self-esteem, and an overall better mood.

Show that you’re excited for the opportunity. Speak emphatically to avoid mumbling and to clearly articulate what you’re trying to say.

Finally, use hand gestures. If you struggle to refrain from fidgeting, move your hands while you speak. Keep your palms open to express engagement and signal honesty, and smile and nod as you listen.

How do you prepare to present yourself for a job interview?

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.