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To present as the ideal job candidate, mastering your first impression is paramount. Without years of experience under your belt, it's crucial to know what else will give you the edge in that all-important interview.
Dress the part
"For me, it all boils down to one thing - confidence," says Image Consultant, Georgina Kar.
The outfit you choose is not only a signal to your interviewer that you take the opportunity seriously but can also impact your confidence and performance during the meeting.
Taking the time to find out what dress standard is appropriate, and looking the part can go a long way to convincing a recruiter that you're the right fit for the company.
"I stand by the 'look good, feel good' motto," Georgina says. "If you're looking good and you're feeling good, I think that energy employed comes out in your mood."
The transition from study and part-time work into professional office culture may not be straightforward. Dress codes are not always spelled out, and what is 'business casual' anyway?
To help strike the right tone, Georgina advises some simple rules of thumb to help ensure your personal presentation is neat and professional.
When in doubt, she says a nice suit is the way to go.
"For men, preferably a darker suit. Avoid mixing brown and black. Avoid too much pattern on the tie."
It's not just your clothing that requires careful consideration. Hair and makeup are also important factors to consider when planning your personal presentation.
"A fresh face for a man. Cleanly shaven so you don't look rough around the edges. For a woman minimal makeup, hair pulled back, just keep it elegant and classy," Georgina says.
By removing distractions like extraneous jewellery, accessories or flyaway hair, interviewers can focus on the content of what you have to say.
Once you get hired and begin your new role, you can carry on your 'dress for success' approach to help you maximise your performance in the office.
"It also affects your overall productivity, your self-efficiency and your work happiness," Georgina says.
Body language matters
Simply developing and presenting good posture encourages confidence and lowers stress1, which is ideal for a job interview. So once you've settled on the outfit, Graduate Recruitment Expert and High Potentials Headhunter Peter Pychtin recommends preparing yourself physically.
"[Body language] is all part of that first impression. The big thing is, as a recruiter you're sitting there during that interview, and looking at that person, and subconsciously asking yourself: 'Will this person fit into our culture, into the way we operate in our organisation?'" Peter says.
With the right clothing, grooming and posture combining to lift your mood and self-esteem, the energy you now have can help to deal with the high-pressure situation you're ready to walk into.
Research over practise
You want to feel prepared, which is why it might be your first instinct to create some practise answers. Of course, in doing this you could risk sounding unnatural which, according to Peter Pychtin, is not ideal.
So, what's a better way to prepare yourself for the interview? Peter says researching the organisation is a good way to familiarise yourself with their company culture.
"You could dig into the organisation, even on LinkedIn, have a look at the profiles of some of the people who are employed in that organisation, and by just looking at their profiles and their backgrounds you start to get a sense of what type of people they employ."
Be your best self
Peter says recruiters are looking for indicators of achievement, initiative and cultural fit. Putting your strengths and favourable personality traits on show with past examples from your professional or personal life can be effective.
"I've asked graduates what they do outside of uni and work and they've talked about hobbies and interests which have been very impressive and highly relevant to the role," he said.
While Peter provides examples of favourable traits, such as organisation and relationship building, it's important to emphasise the ones that will be of value to that organisation in particular.
"Accounting firms that specialise in insolvency, are often looking for candidates who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get involved in situations which might be difficult," Peter says.
Being that person is the goal from the minute you start searching for your dream job. Peter suggests seeking recommendations from people you know at organisations you are interested in.
"If you're a graduate or a student and you know people in an accounting organisation that you'd be interested in, reach out to them directly and let them know that you're looking for opportunities."
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