Manage Your Professional Image

Dress professionally. Plan your attire and make certain that your clothing is pressed, your shoes polished and your hair and nails are well groomed.When deciding what to wear to an interview, consider the position, the culture of the organization/institution, the culture of the profession, and your own values. It’s best to error on the side of more conservative and towards formal interview attire when in doubt. For examples and more specifics, see Dress for Success.

Employers often believe that the most dressed-up they’ll see a candidate is in their interview. Dressing too casually for the interview can send the message that you don’t take it seriously or don’t know how to conduct yourself professionally.

Considering how to dress can also bring up questions of professional identity and discrimination in the interview process. One campus professional shares her perspectives and considerations: How Should I Wear My Hair.

Create a positive first impression.  From the moment you arrive at the interview site, consider yourself to be in the interview.  Arrive 5-10 minutes early and no earlier. Bring extra copies of your resume.  Do not chew gum.

Offer a firm handshake. Hand out and clasp the extended hand firmly, but gently. Pump once and release.

Turn off your cell phone.  And leave it in your car. You don’t want to be distracted as you offer your expertise to an employer, and an employer doesn’t need to know your ringtone sounds like Beethoven’s Symphony #5.

Manage your nonverbal communication. Maintain good eye contact and show  interest in the position by managing your posture.  Lean slightly into the interview to demonstrate that you are engaged.

Do your research, prepare questions and follow up. Research the organization by visiting the organization’s website and networking.  Create a list of questions that your research about the organization or position did not answer.  Ask appropriate questions about time lines and further steps in the selection process. Ask for a business card from everyone you meet.

Send a thank you note.  Say thank you by e-mail or sending a thank you not  to each person who interviewed you immediately after you get back to your home. Spell everyone’s name correctly and use their correct titles using the business cards that you collected.

A thank-you note does several things:

  • It says you appreciated the time your potential boss spent with you.
  • It suggests you’ll follow up on important things (like the boss’ business).
  • It’s a great time to reiterate (very briefly) how your qualifications are a good match and how interested you are in getting the job, and
  • It creates the opportunity to briefly share information not presented during the interview.

To view an example of a thank you note, visit Thank You Notes.