ALC Consulting

October 6, 2009

An Unabashed Plug for a Group

As you are looking for a job and getting beyond the applying online route and are actually talking to real people, you may find yourself panicking. You have to talk to real people and you do not know how to do it! How do you carry on a conversation? How do you gauge what kind of impression you make on others? How do you answer even basic questions about who you are?

There are several solutions besides the one of not doing anything. You can pay lots of money to a professional coach and take lots of public speaking classes.

But if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford any of these solutions, there is a rather inexpensive and fun way to develop your skills at speaking in front of and to others: The answer is (drum roll please) Toastmasters. They can be found at

Or, if you are local to Oregon, try this URL,

Why would joining an organization, which forces you to get up and speak before others be good for me, if the job I am searching after doesn’t require me to do a lot of speaking? Well, even in IT shops, where I have toiled for years, you have to present information to colleagues and bosses in an organized manner. You have to talk to people who do not share your background and expertise, and get them to understand what it is you are trying to do. You generally have to go through an interview in which you want to present your best self. What better place to learn all of these skills for a very small amount of money.

I speak from personal experience. Most Toastmaster clubs are filled with supportive people who help each other develop their abilities presenting their best selves in front of others. Even though I have spoken in public many times, and taught school for many years, there are still many valuable things I have learned from my club; how to run a meeting, how to be a better listener, how to think on my feet.

Besides that, Toastmasters can be a lot of fun. You get to meet interesting people and who knows, one of them might know of an opportunity for you. Ya never know.


July 29, 2009

You Said What?!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 6:10 am

I did not want you to miss this one. It arrived in my inbox this morning. I want to give full credit to the author.

You Said What?!

43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

By Rachel Zupek, writer

Bottom of Form

“I’m not wanted in this state.”
“How many young women work here?”
“I didn’t steal it; I just borrowed it.”
“You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!”

“I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”

Believe it or not, the above statements weren’t overheard in bars or random conversations — they were said in job interviews.

Maybe you were nervous, you thought the employer would appreciate your honesty, or maybe you just have no boundaries. Whatever the reason, you can be certain that you shouldn’t tell an interviewer that it’s probably best if he doesn’t do a background check on you. (And yes, the hiring manager remembered you said that.)

We asked hiring managers to share the craziest things they’ve heard from applicants in an interview. Some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, others are jaw-dropping — the majority are both. They will relieve anyone who has ever said something unfortunate at a job interview — and simply amuse the rest of you.

Hiring managers shared these 43 memorable interview responses:

Why did you leave your last job?
“I have a problem with authority.” – Carrie Rocha, chief operating officer, HousingLink

Tell us about a problem you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it
“The resolution was we were both fired.” – Jason Shindler, CEO, Curvine Web Solutions

What kind of computer software have you used?
“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.” – Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management Inc.

What are your hobbies and interests?
“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.'” – Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations

Why should we hire you?
“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group

Do you have any questions?
“Cross-dressing isn’t a problem is it?” – Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates

“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” – Megan Garnett, Articulate Leadership Team, Articulate Communications Inc.

“What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it’s raining? Can you pick me up?” – Christine Pechstein, career coach

“I was a chamber of commerce executive once hiring a secretary. [The candidate asked] ‘What does a chamber of commerce do?'” – Mary Kurek, Mary Kurek Inc. Visibility Consulting

“Can we wrap this up fairly quickly?  I have someplace I have to go.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing, Clare Computer Solutions

“What is your company’s policy on Monday absences?” – Campbell

“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?” – Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching

“How big do the bonuses really get once you make associate? I hear it’s some serious cash.” – Bolzan

“[The candidate asked,] ‘Can my dad call you to talk about the job and the training program?  He is really upset I’m not going to medical school and wants someone to explain the Wall Street path to him.’ The dad did call. Then that dad’s friends called and I ended up doing a conference call with a group of concerned parents … long story.” – Bolzan

“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?” – Bolzan

“When you do background checks on candidates, do things like public drunkenness arrests come up?” – Bolzan

“Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room?  I heard you have a great one here and while I don’t plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast-feed and would want to use that room.”- Bolzan

“So, how much do they pay you for doing these interviews?” – Jodi R.R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Why are you leaving your current job?
“Because I (expletive) my pants every time I enter the building.” – Abbe Mortimore, human resources manager, True Textiles Inc.

“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.” – Smith

Why are you looking for a job?
“Cigarettes are getting more expensive, so I need another job.” – Pechstein

“My parents told me I need to get a job so that is why I’m here.” – McGowan

Why do you want to work for us?
“Just for the benefits.” – Jennifer Juergens, JJ Communications

“My old boss didn’t like me, so one day, I just left and never came back. And here I am!” – Matt Cowall, communications manager, Appia Communications

“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?” – Rebecca Gertsmark Oren, communications director at The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

What are your assets? (as in strengths)
“Well, I do own a bike.” – Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group

What are your weaknesses?
“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein

“I had a job candidate tell me that she often oversleeps and has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.” – Linda Yaffe,
certified executive coach

“I am an alcoholic and do not deserve this job.” – Deb Bailey, owner, Power Women Magazine & Radio Show

“I’m really not a big learner. You know … some people love learning and are always picking up new things, but that’s just not me. I’d much rather work at a place where the job is pretty stagnant and doesn’t change a lot.” – Michaele Charles, Voice Communications

When have you demonstrated leadership skills?
“Well my best example would be in the world of online video gaming. I pretty much run the show; it takes a lot to do that.”  – Rachel Croce

Is there anything else I should know about you?
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.” — Venné

When can you start?
“I need to check with my mom on that one.” – Bolzan

Use three adjectives to describe yourself
“I hate questions like this.” – Katrina Meistering

Tell of a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it
“I stole some equipment from my old job, and I had to pay for its replacement.” – Meistering

Have you submitted your two weeks’ notice to your current employer?
“What is two weeks’ notice?  I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.” – Meistering

Random responses
“One guy [said] ‘it would probably be best’ if I didn’t run a background check on him. Of course, I did, and learned all about his long, sordid past of law-breaking. Our client actually offered him a job as a staff accountant, but quickly retracted the offer when I had to tell them all about his recent arrest for a meth lab in his basement.” – Charles

“[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport.” – Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR

“I went into the lobby to pick up a candidate. As he stood up, his trousers fell to the floor! [He said] ‘Oh, my gosh — they told me I needed a suit for the interview. I’ve got no money — so I borrowed this thing. It’s too big!'” – Beth Ross, executive and career coach

“Wow — I’m not used to wearing dress shoes! My feet are killing me. Can I show you these bloody blisters?” – Bolzan

“May I have a cup of coffee?  I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.” – Smith

(During a telephone call to schedule the interview) “Can we meet next month?  I am currently incarcerated.” – Smith

“[A candidate] was asked whether he could advocate impartially on behalf of the various universities he would be representing since he had attended one of them. He responded, ‘Well, I don’t like to poop where I eat, but I thought my education sucked, so I certainly wouldn’t put that school above the others.'” – Darby

July 16, 2009

The Ultimate Group Interview

Filed under: Group Interviews,Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 9:35 pm

All of these people get to interview this one candidate:

Whose résumé has been scrutinized to death and whose every public utterance for the past 20 years has been reviewed and reprinted. And she has kept her cool through all the hearings this week.

Go Sonia!

July 15, 2009

Now for Something Completely Different!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 4:02 pm

After all this serious stuff, let’s have some fun. I have collected some cartoons on interviewing to share with everyone.


And watch”

Walk Out of Your Job Interview in a Blaze of Glory

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 3:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

From an article by Scott Ginsberg

Interview questions that stump employers in any job interview.

Picture this: The job interview is (almost) over.

You’ve answered all their questions.
You’ve jumped through all their hoops.
You’ve taken all their tests, assessments and personality profiles.

Meanwhile, your brain hurts from over thinking. Your butt is numb from over sitting. And by now, you’ve managed to sweat right through that crisp, new white shirt you bought just for today.

“Just hire me already!” You think.

Not so fast. There’s still one thing left to do:

Walk out of that interview in a blaze of glory.

Today I’m going to teach you a job-hunting strategy that will instantly make you more approachable; hireable; employable; promotable; buyable; bookable; unforgettable; and, most importantly, call-back-able.

And all of it hinges on your ability to respond effectively to one of the most common (yet one of the most under leveraged) interview questions:

“So, do you have any questions for me?”

Prospective employers almost always ask this one – especially at the end of the interview. And most job-hunting books, interviewing resources and career coaches will advise you to respond with intelligent, creative questions such as:

  • Why is this position vacant?
  • Do you promote from within?
  • Do you have a formal training program?
  • What are the future goals of the company?
  • How will I know that I have met your goals?
  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • How would you describe your company’s culture?
  • How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
  • What is the average work week of the person who will fill this job?
  • Will I be hearing from you or should I contact you?

Those are great questions. They’re smart, focused and goal-oriented.

There’s only one problem: Everybody else asks them, too.

And that instantly eliminates the probability of standing out.

Here’s the reality

The less boring and normal you are – and the more rules to which you are the exception – the more hireable you will become.

So, try this: Next time your interviewer asks, “So, do you have any questions for me?” I triple-dog-dare you to answer with one of the following responses :

  • Do you see any gaps in my qualifications that I need to fill?
  • Are there any reasons I’m not fully qualified for this position?
  • Is there anything I’ ve said today that might hurt my chances of being hired here?
  • Now that you’ve had a chance to meet and interview me, what reservations would you have in putting me in this position?
  • What have accidentally I said or done during today’s interview that’s inconsistent with your perfect candidate for this job?

Here’s why this strategy works:

You put the interviewer on the spot. After all, you’re not the only one being interviewed here. So, turning the tables in this manner helps you maintain power because – contrary to popular conditioning – the listener controls.

You prove counterintuitive thinking. I don’t care if you’re applying to work the night clean up shift at Reggie’s Roadkill Cafe – employers love people who think this way. Not just someone who “is” unexpected – but someone who actually thinks unexpectedly.

You demonstrate openness to feedback. My great friend, Joe Rotskoff, HR manager at Crescent Plumbing Supply in St. Louis, was the person who first educated me on this interview approach. “The secret is twofold,” Rotskoff said. “First, you display openness to how others experience you. Second, you show a dedication to improving self-awareness. And that’s exactly the type of employee companies seek to hire in this tough economy.”

You exhibit dedication to personal improvement. Which makes you an employee who adds value to the net worth of her human capital – and, therefore, the net worth of the company’s assets – every day. Wow.

You close the sale. Job interviews are sales calls. Period. You’re selling the company on you, your skills and your long-term potential as a valued asset to the team. So, when you ask closer questions like these, you’re essentially “asking for the sale.” And you’re doing so in a professional, tactful, confident manner. How could they not say yes to you?

Now, here’s the worst thing that could happen

Let’s say you ask one of these questions. And let’s say the prospective employer (unfortunately) responds with an answer that indicates you’ve done something wrong. Or missed the mark. Or come up short in regards to the position.

Fantastic! You’ve just received specific feedback that you can leverage to add value to yourself and become more hireable in the future.

So, if this is the case for you, here’s my suggestion: Physically write down his response to your questions, right then and there. This demonstrates active listening and further reinforces your openness to feedback.

Then, when you write your thank-you note to the interviewer later that evening, be sure to:

1. Thank him again for the helpful feedback on your performance

2. Explain what your commitment plan is for remedying that inadequacy in the future. Hey, he might even change his mind after that!

But here’s the best thing that could happen

Picture this: The interviewer’s jaw hits the floor, his pen falls to the ground, and he stares at you like you just told him that his company was going to be featured on the front page of The
Wall Street Journal.

Then, once he mops up the puddle of drool on your job application, he racks his brain trying to come up with an answer to your powerful question.

But he can’t find one.

Because there isn’t one.

Because you, my unemployed friend, are pretty amazing.

And you deserve this job a hundred times more than every other candidate who walked in the door before you.

That’s what happens when you stick yourself out there. That’s what happens when you’re approachable.

You walk out of that job interview in a blaze of glory.

And then, come Monday morning, you walk back into that same building. But this time, you’re not there for an interview – you’re there to see how spectacular the view is from your new office.

Good luck.

July 14, 2009

Wrapping up Interview Questions

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 2:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

There is one crucial question that you do need to be prepared for:

Do you have any questions for me?

You had better have some questions. It’s your last time to impress everyone with your qualifications for the job.

Some good questions are:

  1. Are there any other qualities you are looking for in a candidate that we haven’t covered?
  2. Are there any more questions you have about my qualifications for this position?

    (This gives you a chance to once more restate your ability to do the job.)

  3. Where are you in the hiring process and when you plan to make a decision.

DO NOT ask about salary, hours, benefits or vacations. This is totally inappropriate at this stage.

Here are the last of the wacky questions

  1. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?

    (Are you asking me for a date?)

  2. What is your favorite memory from childhood?

    (You are not my shrink and you had better not send me a bill for a therapy session!)

  3. What is your greatest fear?

    That I would have to go through these questions again with you, for any reason!

  4. What are your lifelong dreams?

    Not to be answering questions like this all day.

  5. How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?

    Since that has been the case many times, it comes with the territory.

  6. Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?


  7. If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?

    Jump up, drop to the floor and start a tantrum! Come on, it’s only a lunch.

And the last question is (drum roll, please!)

How do I rate as an interviewer?

Now just wait a cottonpicking minute here. If I tell you the truth, that you suck, then you won’t hire me. If I lie and say you were great, I lose all respect for myself and you.

This is a no win situation.

But be prepared. They can often slip that one in.

One last item.

Go to The Portland Examiner and start reading Susan Tait’s Unemployment columns. Today’s was especially good concerning this topic.

Or follow this link.

June 30, 2009

Interviewing—More Wacky Interviewing Questions

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 1:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

div>These questions are culled from an extensive list compiled by Monster. In no particular order:

  1. Why do you want this job?

    I need something to do to keep busy during the day.

  2. There’s no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

    Somewhere where someone isn’t asking me some wacky questions.

  3. What is your favorite memory from childhood?

    What has that got to do with my ability to analyze Crystal reports?

  4. What do you do in your spare time?

    Go on interviews to see how many silly questions people can ask me.

  5. What do you like to do for fun?

    Stay up late playing video games till three in the morning.

  6. Sell me this pencil.

    Why should I waste your time? Aren’t you looking for a DBA, (Project Manager, Systems Analyst)?

  7. Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?

    I am an editor, my work is always up for criticism, it comes with the territory.

  8. Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.

    I still don’t want you to know, so I won’t tell you.

  9. What is your biggest regret, and why?

    That I am sitting here interviewing when I really would rather be at the beach.

  10. What are three positive character traits you don’t have?

    Um. Pride, patience, and honesty.

  11. What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?

    Asking silly questions that have no relevance to the job. I am trying to be patient and not walk out of here.

  12. How many times do a clock’s hands overlap in a day?

    Can I put this in my file of “Dumb and Irrelevant Questions that really don’t have anything to do with the position, but give someone a chance to see if they can make me squirm.”

  13. How would you weigh a plane without scales?

    See above.

  14. If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?

    See above also.

  15. If you could get rid of any one of the US states, which one would you get rid of, and why?

    Another one.

  16. With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.

    Again, please stop these!

  17. Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.

    I use it to clamp on when I am having a seizure.

  18. What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?

    I don’t think this is the time to mention that when I found out my husband was having an affair, I was ready to kill him on the spot.

    Then there is the time the FBI wiretapped my phone for a year.

  19. What kind of car do you drive?

    Maybe, like many Portlanders, I don’t have a car and use public transportation. See Questions 12-17.

    Next: More questions that really don’t make sense, including my all-time favorite one.

Wacky Interview Questions

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 10:59 am
Tags: , ,

I love this picture and wanted to use it in this series.

Today I am going to digress a bit and talk about some wacky interview questions that I have heard over the years. Yes, I have been asked some of them myself.

  • If you were a tree, animal, bird, “Lost” character (or other creature), what would you be?

I honestly feel that this has nothing to do with my being a developer, writer or designer. project manager or marketing analyst. It certainly doesn’t give me a chance to show my stuff and wastes time.

  • Or If you were a tree, what would be your greatest weakness?


  • Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?

Again, I have no idea why anyone would want me to know that fact in order to obtain employment.

  • If you won the $10 million lottery, would you still work?

Do you think I am crazy as well as unemployed!

  • Silence. You answer and interviewer’s question and instead of asking another, the interviewer just sits there in silence.

This is meant to unnerve you. If this comes after a tricky question (the fatal flaw or who was your worst boss one), you are tempted to rush in and fill in the void with babbling.

Refuse to be intimated. Just shoot back, after a reasonable length of time, “Is there anything else I can fill in on that point?”

  • What do you define as sexual harassment, or pornography?

No one in his right mind would touch that one. Walk out on the interviewer fast!

  • What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?

The only correct answer to this one is: African or European swallow? Or get fancy and go with:

“I would have to ask for more information on the circumstances. Now the obvious first question is the geographic origin of the swallow but I doubt that that would actually be a large determining factor in coming to a meaningful conclusion. I can’t imagine that the differences in sub-species of swallows would account for more than a small fraction of a difference in airspeeds given that all other factors are the same.

More important aspects would be the density and makeup of the air the swallow is traveling in, whether the swallow is traveling in any sort of wind, whether the swallow is traveling under its own power, etc.

A scenario where our hapless bird is shot out of a cannon with a head wind in Denver will have a dramatically different answer than a swallow traveling under its own power at sea level in calm.

Additionally, even if I was given this information I would have to confess my ignorance being that I am neither an aeronautical engineer nor an ornithologist”

I mean, if they want nerd I am going to give them NERD!!

  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?

One classic answer from comedian Mitch Hedberg is, “Celebrating the 5-year anniversary of you asking me this question!”

  • What would you like to see on your tombstone when you die?

Um, let me get back to you on that one. Or, I plan to be cremated and have NO tombstone to worry about.

  • Based on what you know about us, (from a 30 minute interview) what would you suggest we change in order to improve our mission?

Write a new mission statement and figure out what it is you as a company want to be.

  • Have you ever brought a lawsuit against an employer?

No, but I’m always open to new experiences.

  • What interests you about our company?

Um, I heard you were hiring?

Next: How to blow a job interview by your behavior

June 27, 2009

Interviewing—Answering the Tough Questions–Part 1

Filed under: Contracting,Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 3:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

For many people, an interview is faced with as much anticipation as a visit to the dentist. They view it as a necessary step to getting a job.

Depending on who does the interviewing, it can be a very painful experience, that’s for sure. Are you interviewing with an HR professional or a hiring manager?

Does it make a difference? Absolutely.

Most HR people are not familiar with the skills needed fill a position; after all, they have it right in front of them. They really don’t know what a lot of the acronyms mean, but they can talk their way through it. Hiring managers are the worker bees. They know what the job entails, because they work with the team and know how things work in the company.

Anyway, here are some typical questions that you will get almost all the time (with my editorial comments).

  1. Tell me about yourself.

    No, the interviewer doesn’t want to know your life story, just do you have the skills and background to program, design, write or whatever.


    Use this question to discover the employer’s greatest need. Say something like, “I have a number of accomplishments, I’d like to tell you about, but in order to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the job description, etc.).

  2. What are your greatest strengths?

    Hokey at best. Try to keep your cool here.


    Try to set a balance between arrogance and humility. Mentally you should have prepared a list of your 8 greatest strengths and you want to get them into the mix during the interview, according to Scott Olsen of The Olsen Group in Portland. But if you answered the previous question properly, you will know what they are looking for.

  3. What are your greatest weaknesses?

    This question is designed to shorten the candidate list. Either you get an A for honesty, but an F for interview.


    Disguise a strength as a weakness. For example, “I sometimes push myself too hard,” or “I’m a nitpicky editor.” A problem with this strategy is that it is so widely used that it may come across as so canned to the interviewer.

    Another way to handle it is to go back to the needs identified by the interviewer as important and work them into the conversation. If you were applying for a sales position, you could say. “If given a choice, I’d like to spend as much time as possible in front of my prospects selling, as opposed to shuffling papers back at the office. Of course, long ago I learned the importance of filing paperwork properly, and I do it conscientiously. But what I really love to do is sell.”

  4. Tell me about something you did—or failed to do—that you now feel ashamed of.

    This is a trap! No interviewer should be asking a question like this. It’s none of their business. Some inexperienced interviewees get caught here, and use this as an opportunity to unburden themselves of a long ago incident that is way too personal. Don’t use the tactic by some members of a previous administration to declare they have no regrets.


    Say that you practice some self reflection at the end of the day, and that if you recognize something is awry, you try to remedy it as soon as possible, and by doing that, you don’t let the garbage pile up.

    Next: More Tough interview Questions

June 22, 2009

More Help from Your Friends–Part 1

Filed under: Interviewing,Preparing — Anne Cloward @ 6:04 am
Tags: , , ,


Are you brave enough to do this?

As part of your interviewing preparations, ask for some help from your friends. But not just any friends; the friends you need to find have two major qualifications:

  •  They have fashion sense and know what is appropriate dress:They always look well put together, no matter what the occation:
  • They are willing to be honest with you.

By fashion sense, I mean, the person who always looks put together at work. Disqualify anyone who wears the following: 

  • Shorts.
  •  Jeans.
  •  Skirts that are too short.
  • Pants that are too low-rise or too tight.
  • Blouses that are too low-cut or too short – don’t show your cleavage or your belly.  
  • Underwear (bras, bra straps, briefs, boxers, etc.) that is visible. Don’t wear any underwear that shows – even if your bra straps match your top.
  • Flip-flops or sneakers.

Refer to the photos above for an illustration of what they should not consider appropriate work dress.
Inappropriate dress translates to inappropriate work. Some people honestly believe that sloppy people do sloppy work, and that carelessness carries over to the work place.

From the Career Solvers Web site:

Every year after the big celebrity awards shows, the pundits weigh in on the best and worst dressed of the evening and Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards was no exception. Many of the popular style columns and blogs are already “dissing” Renee Zelwegger’s dress, Susan Sarandon’s sunglasses, and Beyonce’s poorly contained cleavage. And while an interview isn’t quite the same as a walk down the red carpet, hiring authorities are paying attention to what candidates wear to job interviews. Here are some of the biggest fashion mistakes I see job seekers make.


  1. Long fingernails with bright or distracting nail polish. Nails should be clipped short and it is recommended that you wear clear or light polish.
  2. Short skirts. Make sure you can sit and cross your legs comfortably. If your teenage daughter thinks your skirt is the right length, it is probably too short.
  3. Too much jewelry. Multiple bangle bracelets can be noisy and distracting during an interview. Only wear one pair of earings (and only in your ears).
  4. Too much perfume. An overpowering scent can quickly turn a one hour interview into a 20 minute interview. Go easy on the perfume or skip it altogether.
  5. Inappropriate footwear. It is fine to wear a shoe with a heel, but stay away from stilettos and open-toed shoes.
  6. Big Hair. If you plan to wear your hair down, try to keep it off your face. Otherwise opt for a neat style that pulls the hair away from your face.


  1. Unruly facial hair. Clean shaven is preferred. If you have a moustache or a beard, get a trim before the interview.
  2. Long Hair. Off the face and ears is best.
  3. Unkempt fingernails. Nails should be trimmed and clean.
  4. Too much cologne. Same reasons as stated for women.
  5. Unpolished Shoes. It’s not just about having a nice suit. Clean, polished shoes complete the look.
  6. Lose Change. Jostling change in your pocket can be noisy and distracting. Clear out your pockets before the interview.

During an interview you want to be remembered for what you said.

Action Steps

Have your friend review your wardrobe with you and make suggestions for improvement, if it is needed. Have them shop with you. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get good clothes. If your budget is tight (and whose isn’t these days?) learn how to shop thrift shops.

If you need a haircut, get one from a decent stylist. It’s the cheapest form of plastic surgery.

Becky Meier, who manages two weekly job seeker meetings in my town, mentioned one day that men who are clean shaven are 30% more likely to be hired. Clean shaven men are perceived as being more honest. Grey is fine for a man’s hair, but a grey beard ages him.

 Next: Making more use of friends and their advice.




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