Natalie Hibbert, director of human resources for Black Enterprise, witnessed the ultimate fashion wipeout several years ago when a young woman applying for an editorial position arrived in sneakers and sweats.
“Your appearance is an initial indicator of your professionalism,” Hibbert says. “Having a polished presence is your greatest selling point. It helps me to assess your confidence and how serious you are about making a good first impression.”
Hibbert recommends keeping wardrobes and accessories simple. Jewelry and perfume should be kept at a minimum. Hair should be neatly styled. Fingernails should be kept short and clean. Wrinkle-free suits, shined shoes, and briefcases add special touches to make a good first impression of professionalism.
It’s important to research the company you are interviewing with, but it’s also imperative to know details about the department and position you’re applying for. Is it a division that is growing or has been experiencing challenges? Is it a major contributor to the overall revenue growth of the company? Can it be?
Knowing particular details about the company will show that you’re interested in the organization beyond the position that you’re seeking. But it will also show that you understand the unique challenges and opportunities in the area that you are applying to.
Besides going to the company’s Website, Cousin suggests looking up articles about the company in the news and in the trades, as well as visiting Hoovers.com, a business website that provides information on companies, its employees, and industry overviews and facts.
Practice makes perfect. How well do you communicate your talents and skills? Practice becoming fluid in not just reciting facts about the company or what tasks you’ve executed over the years, but also how your expertise could benefit this company, in terms of how you work with staff, manage conflict, and implement strategy.