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Looking your best helps you do your best

Student Career Placement Consultant

Multicolored suit jackets hang on hangers in a closetLast month singer/songwriter, Alicia Keyes generated a lot of controversy by attempting to start a makeup revolution (her word, not mine): She has decided to go makeup free, and she seems to think the world would be a better place if everyone were to join her revolution. She also says that everyone should do what they want, but I suspect that she hopes that what they want is the same as what she wants.

Why am I writing about this here? Because there are two points that spring to mind when I think about what she is suggesting, and they’re both relevant to how you present yourself and perform at job interviews:

  1. 1. It would be nice if we all weren’t judged on how we look, but in reality we are judged that way.
  2. 2. We aren’t all as attractive as Alicia Keyes, which puts most of us at a bit of a disadvantage.

Research shows that many women feel more confident when they are wearing makeup. We can extrapolate beyond the makeup controversy to appearance in general, and what I suggest is that you think about what makes you feel more confident. I have two anecdotes to share on this topic.

Holiday party

A friend of mine owns a business that employs primarily male factory workers. Every year he throws a lavish holiday party with an open bar for his employees — in his home. His one “rule” about attending the party is that everyone has to dress up;  the men are required to wear ties and jackets, and no one can wear jeans. His reasoning is based on experience: At the first such party, he didn’t have that rule, and his employees got a bit out of hand and did some damage to his home. After instituting the rule, the employees all behaved differently. The way that they dressed influenced their behavior. This is one of the reasons why I previously made some suggestions about how to dress for a job interview.

Be yourself

To emphasize the importance of dressing appropriately for a job interview, I invite a recruiter to visit my internship class to tell students what she thinks they should wear. She always asks if students have questions, and one time a female student asked if wearing makeup would be a requirement. In turns out that this particular woman had never worn makeup, and that doing so would make her feel uncomfortable. In that situation, the advice was that she should not wear makeup.

The bottom line here is that you want to be happy with the way you look because that is going to make you feel better about yourself. When you are dressed in clean clothes that fit you well, when your hair is neat and you smell good (but not perfumed), you are going to feel more confident and project confidence. It’s normal to be nervous before a job interview, but when you look your best, that’s one less thing to worry about.

Share your thoughts!