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DRESSING FOR THE INTERVIEW

It's a rare situation in which an interviewee would get points taken off for dressing too conservatively. Even if you're interviewing with an organization known for its loose, casual culture, it probably won't hurt you to be the only guy in the building with a tie, or the only woman wearing a skirt on the day of the interview.

For men and women, proper attire begins with a conservative two-piece business suit, either dark blue or gray. Along with that, you should wear a conservative shirt or blouse, preferably white or very light colored. Your shoes should be conservative and POLISHED! Don't wear a lot of perfume or cologne.

For men in particular, neckties should be silk and in a muted, conservative pattern. Wear dark shoes and dark socks. The shoes should be lace-ups. If you wear a mustache or beard, make sure they're neatly trimmed. If you wear an earring or have piercings, lose them for the interview.

For women, avoid very high heels. Wear conservative hosiery close to the color of your skin. Stay away from bright or garish nail polish and use a minimum of makeup. Also keep jewelry to a minimum, and that means only one set of earrings.

BE FOREARMED

You'll need to bring in two or three items with you to the interview: a copy of your resume, at least three references and, if applicable, a portfolio of your work samples. These should be contained in a neat-looking valise or briefcase.

Just because the hiring organization already has your resume, don't assume that it will be on the desk of your interviewer. He or she will probably want to refer to it during the interview, and that's a great opportunity for you to produce a fresh, unwrinkled copy.

You should have references handy, even if you haven't been specifically asked to bring them in. Ideally, these will be professional references - people to whom you've reported on other jobs. If you don't have enough of a job history from which to draw three professional references, then approach former teachers, a minister or rabbi, an advisor for a club to which you belonged in school. Usually, employers will simply want their names, their professional or personal relationship to you, and a phone number where they can be reached. You might, however, solicit letters of reference from these folks and present them at the interview.

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