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Career Advice

Business intelligence: Interview Dress Code

With today's businesses swinging back and forth from casual dress to suit and tie it is sometimes hard to determine what to wear to an interview. There are a couple of rules to help you through this dilemma. First you should ask the person who sets up the interview with you "What is the corporate dress code?" The answer can sometimes be hard to interpret. What does business casual really mean? "We use this rule of thumb for all our candidates. Always dress one step above the normal dress code, for example if the policy is collared shirt and slacks, we tell our clients to wear a collared shirt, jacket and slacks. No one minds if you are a little over dressed for the culture, most mind if you are underdressed and that mistake can knock you out of contention for the job".

-A Leading Recruiter Fortune 500 Companies

Watch the Internet: How to lose a job in five minutes

The internet is public domain and many perspective employers are now searching such sites as Facebook and other social websites to gather additional information on the candidate they are considering for their openings. "We tend to do some research beyond checking references on every candidate. We often just have to look at their Facebook account and you can determine what's behind their perfect interview persona. One potential candidate had listed his ultimate goal under a picture of him drinking from a boot, to party his life away, we felt that this person was not ready for a position of responsibility with our company,"

-Director of Human Resources, Leading Logistics Firm.

Research is key

Never go into an interview unprepared and without questions for your interviewer. Not taking the time to look up the company on the internet is a critical mistake and leads your interviewer to believe you are not interested in the job. Try to learn some interesting facts about the company were they the first to bring their product to market, are they the largest in their field. Knowing a little about the company and developing some questions for your interviewer shows interest in both the opportunity in front of you and your career. Remember to develop several good questions and develop enough questions to ask different questions if you have multiple interviewers. They will compare notes and if you ask the same questions, it will reflect poorly on you as a candidate for the job.

Canned Cover Letters

Your cover letter should be specific to the position that you are applying for not a canned letter that you send to every opening to which you are applying. Try to use some of the language in the position posting in your first paragraph to show the screener that you in fact read the position posting and you understand and meet the requirements of the position. In this way you will garner more consideration than if you just send in a letter stating that you are applying for the position they posted on this job board. Take this extra time and your success rate for interview will increase dramatically.

Stories Sell

It is proven that people remember stories more than just answers to questions. You should develop stories about your past successes in business. For example, how you landed the big account, how you reduced conflict in a sticky situation. Many interviews ask for examples (stories) during an interview. This situational interviewing style has become very popular and trying to remember facts and conversations on the spot can lead to a disjunctive answer. Develop your stories in advance. How do you know what stories to development, just remember your last interview. What did the interviewer ask, they want to hear stories or examples of your behavior that show positive results regarding the question asked.

For example if you are applying for a sales job you should have stories about successful account management, successful business development and dealing with difficult and demanding customers and how you satisfied their needs. If you are interviewing for an operations job your stories should address, cost cutting, process improvement and best practices and benchmarking. Answer with stories and your interviewer will remember you more positively than the candidates that just answer the questions.

Watch your Body Language

Make sure your body isn't saying one thing while your mouth is saying another. If you are recounting a successful story about a big sale and you are fidgeting you will lose credibility with your interviewer. In turn, watch your interviewers body language, are they closed off, arms crossed in front of their body? If so, you are losing their interest and you had better change tactics or lose your chance at the job. Your body language and what you are saying must be congruent or your interviewer will feel uncomfortable and your chances of landing the job will diminish. Use the mirror and practice your answers and watch what your body language says about your answers. Do you look uncomfortable when discussing past quotas or are you at ease showing your interviewer you are a power player?