By Joyce Fang
THE savvy jobseeker generally knows how to avoid making obvious gaffes, such as wearing bermudas to an interview or smoking before entering the room.
What you might not know is this: Whether you nab that dream job depends more on the nuances of your appearance and attitude, which affect the impression you give, said human resource experts, image consultants and stylists.
Your appearance is the first step in determining your ability to make an impression, said Ms Suzenne Zheng, master trainer at First Impressions Image International.
'It is the most powerful and the direct means of communication. It speaks volumes about your personality, your identity and, most importantly, your attitude,' she said.
However, it is not a case of one size fits all: One needs to be aware that dressing for a corporate-job interview differs from dressing for a job interview within the creative industry.
Corporate-job interviews, such as for the positions of a lawyer or a banker, require formal classic jacket suits for men and skirt suits for women, said Ms Agnes Koh, director of image-consultant firm Etiquette & Image International.
Outfits should be dark in colour ' think black, navy blue, dark grey and deep charcoal ' as these are classic symbols of formality, she said.
Pair the outfits with dark-coloured socks and leather oxford shoes for men, or with stiletto heels and stockings of a natural shade for women.
As for creative-job interviews, such as those for jobs in the advertising line, outfits can be less formal. To dress with flair, you can play with bright colours and even wear something with interesting details.
Be sure that the outfit still looks smart. This indicates a respect for the interviewer and also for the company you hope to join, said stylist Vik Lim.
But, in order to impress, candidates need to display intelligence and knowledge of the company and position that one is applying for.
Get as much information as possible on the company and position, so that you are prepared for tough questions, said Madam Tan Lee Chiew, 60, who has 25 years of experience in human resource.
Ask past and present employees of the company about how workflow is structured.
At the interview itself, 'ask the interviewers intelligent questions about the job, such as advancement opportunities, training and development', said Madam Tan.
Be punctual, remember to take along the necessary documents - a spare copy of your resume and cover letter will never go wrong - and articulate your thoughts fluently.
Body language is also key, said Ms Zheng. One needs to carry oneself with confidence and poise, make eye contact when speaking, smile, and have a firm handshake.
Jobseekers would know if the interview has gone well if interviewers ask many questions and show a lot of interest in them, said Madam Tan.
'Some may ask how soon you can start or discuss your expectations about salary and advancement possibilities', which is a good indication, she said.
So, after you have got past the tough part, what next' Ms Jackelyn How, 27, a senior human-resource officer, said sending a personal e-mail to the interviewer after the interview is a good move.
In the note, remember to thank the interviewer for the time spent meeting you.
'Reiterate to the interviewer that you are still very interested in the job.
'Also, try to draw in what you had discussed during the interview, such as which part of the job scope excites you. It shows sincerity,' said Ms How.
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