Dressing for a job

By Erica Fatland

Unfortunately, looks do matter a lot of the time.

Over the weekend, members of the Northern Star went to Chicago to participate in the Illinois Collegiate Press Association’s job fair, workshops and awards ceremony. After the wonderful experience of sleeping for four hours, slapping a suit on and riding on a bus for what seemed to be days and going through five interviews in a little over an hour, I have learned quite a bit about the interviewing process. Boy, do I have a lot more to learn & namely how to look alert for a 9 a.m. interview when all I can think of is my head connecting with a pillow in 55 minutes.

But seriously, there is a lot that goes into making an interview worthwhile. It’s not just a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of thing. Well, it can be, but it’s not recommended.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my guide to preparing for an interview and possibly even getting a job.

I’d have to say that, unfortunately, appearance is one of, if not the most important factor that employers look at when conducting an interview … well, other than a super resume, of course. According to MBA Style magazine, 65 percent of what a job recruiter remembers about an interviewee is conveyed visually, not orally.

More than half of the interview is about what you look like and has nothing to do with intelligence level, experience, or the school you go to. Even though many of us, including myself, think that looks and clothing shouldn’t really matter in an interview, it’s just not the case. I would love to just be myself and show up in my warm-up pants, baseball cap and NIU sweatshirt, but, in the words of the senior George Bush, that wouldn’t be prudent. Nope.

No, you don’t have to go out and purchase a $700 Prada suit, but wearing a Megadeth T-shirt isn’t the way to go, either.

After this whole ordeal over the weekend, I found that I am not so bad of a dresser compared to some of the other schmucks who showed up to this event. Here are some examples of the no-nos I witnessed at the job fair and how they should be corrected.

One: Don’t ever, EVER wear blazing white socks to an interview, especially under a perfectly nice suit. It really screws everything up.

Two: Don’t wear a green jacket with black pants, blue shirt and a chartreuse tie. Whoa!

Solution: Get your mother, significant other, a friend or even just an honest-looking person off the street and take that person with you to get your next suit. No one should have to be exposed in an outfit that looks like it’s more fit to be worn on “The Bozo Show” than at a job fair.

The color of a suit supposedly is very important to an interview. I have found, from talking to various recruiters, that suit colors should stay at the norm & black and navy. Pastels and shades of pink, yellow and orange aren’t usually looked at too fondly, either. Stick to the basics and you can’t go wrong.

Three: Don’t wear the nose, tongue, lip, cheek, eyebrow rings, etc. to the interview. Oh, and the green or lavender hair should probably go, too.

Solution: There really isn’t one, other than to take them out until the interviews are all over. Even though I am a fan of being individualistic, I do have to remember that I will be speaking to people, many of whom are older than my own parents and probably don’t dig the Tommy Lee/Pink look. Maybe if you are interviewing with a band, Rolling Stone or MTV, it would be appropriate but, other than that, the chances are slim to none that the recruiter will enjoy the face art.

Four: Please, spare us all and don’t bathe yourself in cologne and do remember breath mints. Nothing is grosser than smelling someone 20 feet away. It’s a little much. Oh, and for smokers, don’t forget that the stale cigarette smell lingers … for a long time. Do everyone a favor; overdo it on the Altoids and just wear some deodorant.

The Digital Collegian (www.collegian.psu.edu) has a whole bunch of other tips for oblivious college students on how to look for an

interview. A few of their tips include:

Men & Always wear dark colors, don’t wear a blue dress shirt unless you are sure what to wear it with (I’d tell you, but I don’t know myself) and don’t wear any busy ties (i.e. any tie with a celebrity or Christmas lights on it).

Women & Also wear dark colors, wear a knee-length skirt or some pants (sorry, no hoochie wear), wear a minimal amount of jewelry and don’t come in with make-up caked on like Mimi from “The Drew Carey Show.”

Men and women also should be wary of their hairstyles, not just the color of their locks. Mullets should best be kept neatly trimmed and tied back, facial hair should be kept at a minimum and helmet head should be avoided.

To conclude, there’s a lot more to an interview than credentials, intelligence and prepared answers. Sixty-five percent more to be exact. Feb. 21 marks the 18th Annual Internship Career Fair.

Be wary of what you’re wearing.