In job interviews many of us plan for the types of questions we might get asked, many plan the types of questions we want to ask. However, do we do all the things necessary to give us an advantage? This includes subliminal messages given by our choice of clothes and our mental state when we arrive. Consultant Mike Morrison outlines some key steps to give you a competitive advantage at this important time.
It's that time of year when many of us are looking for a new challenge. Finding that elusively advertised position is one thing; getting through the assault course of a selection process is quite another.
It is said that Richard Nixon lost a presidential election because he forgot to shave. Michael Foot lost political credibility because he turned up at a remembrance memorial wearing a duffle coat.
As an interview candidate one of our key roles is to build rapport and to influence the recruiter. Many people focus on the structure of an interview, some focus on the language to use - few think about dressing intelligently and really thinking about what we wear and its impact - or using the subconscious communications of personal presentation.
Whether we like it or not, people buy people, not certificates or CVs. People like people who are similar to them and businesses want people that fit in – it is rare for an organisation to recruit someone that might upset the apple cart.
Remember your goal – If this is to get to the next round in the selection process or to be offered the role then you must dress to impress the recruiter, not yourself. It's about going to their world, not staying in yours.
Many hopefuls seeking a job interview through a staffing agency forget their first impression is vital and they tend to show up in outfits perfect for the outdoors or a night on the town. Candidates often don't realise they must impress the agency before they will be offered anything.
"The first impression is important, because we're the ones that connect them with their future employers," says one recruitment specialist. There is a limit to what is acceptable to wear in the workplace and it is based on common sense. Few, if any, agencies will recommend somebody who walks in looking scruffy, ragged or as if they just rolled out of bed.
Some workplaces are more informal than others and the best agencies are aware of that. Employees have to incorporate themselves to the workplace culture, since some require more formal wear than others. But at least turn up dressed properly for the interview.
The purpose of dressing for an interview (be it internal or external) is to neutralise prejudice and give them reasons to like you - not dislike you.
Intelligent Dressing is the science or art of using the subliminal communication that personal presentation can add to a communication between people. For years NLP has successfully looked at the language that people use. Unfortunately this approach completely ignores the other hidden messages we transmit and as a result means we are not as effective as we could be.
In a recent presentation Peter Landau, creator of the term Intelligent Dressing, said that the goal was to neutralise the prejudice that exists between people so as to improve their communication. When challenged he said that we all have prejudices - many are programmed from birth and others acquired while growing up and they become a habit. It is the smart ones among us that recognise this to be true and work on changing these mental habits.
ID was developed to use the subliminal messages of personal presentation to affect the subconscious behaviour of others in order to win a competitive advantage.
For example one reason why many women have a LBD (little black dress) is they know that it will fit any occasion; for us in business we seem to have the belief that we leave these preferences at reception when we turn up to work. People are people and while we may do our utmost to treat everyone fairly the reality is that we will favour people who are like us.
Much research exists on the success of recruitment and survey after survey shows that we often recruit in our likeness.
What do you wear for your interviews? Is it the best you own? Is it right for the person interviewing you? If the manager who is interviewing you wears an M&S suit and you turn up wearing a designer suit, what is the message that you are giving to the interviewer? Remember this person may be your boss!
Landau suggests that the outcome of many job interviews are not just governed by peoples' skills, but because they influence subliminally as well. However there are some people whose interpersonal skills are so good that they can overcome any barrier that may be there subliminally - but they are the minority.
Mike Morrison is Director of RapidBI, a consultancy organisation specialising in organisational development tools and business improvement methods. See for www.rapidbi.com details. The term Intelligent Dressing™ is © Peter Landau of www.intelligentdressing.com and is used with permission.