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Interview Appearance - Part 2

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Some years ago, I was told that the first thing employment recruiters do in an interview is look at your shoes. As a male, I knew that my black wingtips should be freshly polished to make the best impression. It was not necessary that shoes be new, but they should look new.

Maybe it's a cliche, but the way you accessorize and groom for an interview is important. Remember that schools in general, and school recruiters in particular, are somewhat conservative. The teachers they are recruiting are to be role models for the students in the district. I said last time that you don't want to be remembered for the big red flower in your hair (or on your dress or suit). You also don't want to be remembered as the candidate who wore sneakers to an interview, or the one who wore the chartreuse suit, etc., etc., ad infinitum. It's just like most of us were told as children: comb your hair, get your hair out of your eyes (haircut?), wash your face (and the rest of your body), clean your clothes, iron your wrinkles, polish your shoes, match belt and shoes, keep jewelry at a minimum, and so forth. No secrets.

Touchy items today are tattoos and piercings. I read recently that as many as 30% of new job candidates have tattoos. Personally, I am not opposed to tattoos nor piercings, but they do make an impression on recruiters - not usually a positive one. Keep the tattoos covered up - it's pretty simple. If you choose not to, your chances of being hired diminish significantly in most districts.

The rules for piercings are similar. Women, one pair of earrings in the lobe is acceptable. Eyebrow and lip jewelry are not. Men, piercings are not considered mainstream for education interviews (nor on the job in many districts), so remove the jewelry. A few years ago, I asked an elementary human resources administrator from a large suburban school district about the little studs that some of the women were wearing in their noses. The administrator wrinkled her face and shook her head. In short, only a single pair of earrings in the earlobes is best for women; piercing jewelry for men is not generally acceptable for the interview. After hiring, talk with peers and administrators about additions you'd like to make before doing so.

Interview appearance is important if you are serious about getting the job. Remember that it can make the difference between getting to the next step (or getting the job) and not being considered any further, especially if you are in one of those fields where there is not a shortage.

--Kent McAnally,
Director of Career Services,
Washburn University

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