I’m not busting my chops teaching you to speak well just to see you lose a promotion or a job because you can’t polish your shoes. That’s why I wear my Fashion Police badge and grade your appearance in our Speech 101 Job Inteview assignment.

Think I’m being too picky basing a few points of your grade on what shoes you wear for the job interview? Consider this:

[Image consultant Ginger Burr] tells of a client who was passed over for a promotion for a detail as small as scuffed shoes. “There were two people who were equally qualified for the position, and in the end it came down to one candidate was wearing shoes that were scuffed,” she says. “The company wondered whether that would translate in a work [environment] to other details being overlooked” [Laura Sinberg, “What Not to Wear at Work,” Forbes.com, 2009.07.22].

The same article notes that in the office, sexy doesn’t sell:

Dressing too sexy can also have psychological effects on your peers, according to Peter Glick, a professor of psychology at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. A study by Glick that was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly indicates that women in high-level positions who dress in what is seen as sexy attire are viewed as less competent–regardless of their skill sets. These women are passed over for promotions more often than their more modestly dresses female colleagues [Sinberg, 2009].

Now if you’re just too sexy for your shirt, I can’t help you. And if you consider it a grave injustice that the boss judges your book by its cover, well, you have my sympathy.

But the practical fact is, packaging matters. When you go for that big interview, polish those shoes, button that shirt — dress up!

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Vault.com covers some interview basics. Suits for all, focus on the job, and turn off your phone! No phone call is more important than getting the job.

Nervous? Try these three tips from Brian Krueger: prepare, practice…

…contract your abdominal muscles? Hmmm… I’m all for supporting your voice with the diaphragm, but exert those tummy muscles too much, and you might squeeze out something besides nervousness!

Nerves and adrenaline will make you fast and jumpy. This British Monster.com video urges you to practice your control:

  1. Control the voice: be slow, steady and clear.
  2. Control your eyes: make solid, patient eye contact.
  3. Control your hands: use them, but deliberately.

You never know what an employer will ask… or do you? Some favorites almost always come up… so be ready for them!

And don’t forget to prep your own questions about the company. These job seekers offer some good examples of stock questions they take to job fairs… good material for interviews as well!

Some employers will use a combination of phone interviews and in-person interviews — maybe phone for the first round, then in-person for the best handful from that round. With webcams and other videoconferencing gear increasingly accessible, some employers are enhancing the remote interview by adding video to audio. Time offers this video on how to interview on Skype. See also the accompanying article.

The up side: no more worries about sweaty palms and B.O.!

The downside: you need to clean up the apartment.

So what do you think: would you rather interview in person or online?

Here’s what you can expect for your Mock Job Interview assignment coming up this month!

  • identify a job you could realistically apply for
  • pick a time outside of class time for interview
  • CAH will interview each student for 20 minutes
  • CAH will grade you on the content and delivery of your responses, eye contact, the confidence of your handshake, and your professional appearance
  • Arriving late is a surefire way not to get hired. Be punctual!

Interview will include…

  • 5-10 set questions (known ahead of time)
  • 3-5 “surprise” questions requiring impromptu response
  • 2 questions by student for CAH about the job

Dress Expectations

  • Ladies: Suits or skirts acceptable
  • Gents: necktie and tucked-in shirt required
  • NO: jeans, athletic shoes, white socks, bare toes, cleavage, midriff

Job Interview Questions (I will ask you 5-10 questions from this list):

  1. Why would you be good at this job?
  2. Why do you want to work here?
  3. What courses did you learn the most from at university?
  4. What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
  5. Tell us about a problem you have solved.
  6. What are your goals for the next year? five years?
  7. What personal characteristics are necessary for success?
  8. What qualities do you like to see in coworkers?
  9. What qualities do you like to see in a supervisor?
  10. Give an example of how you have worked as a part of a team.
  11. How do you deal with stress?
  12. What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself in your educational career (college or HS)

Here’s a copy of my Job Interview Evaluation form.

Job Hunt Resources: