By Paul W. Barada
---- — There aren’t many occasions in the lives of most people when it’s important to look one’s best, but there are a few. The occasions that readily come to mind include the first job interview, a wedding, graduation from high school, and having senior pictures taken. Of the four occasions just mentioned, the first job interview is unquestionably the most important.
Getting married is probably the second most important event that requires looking one’s best. Most of the time, wedding gowns and suits or tuxedos are required by the bride and probably even more so by her mother!
Graduation from high school for lots of young people is also one of the more significant events in their lives. The gravity of the event, it seems to me, requires dignity on the part of all those participating. If it were up to me, every male graduate would be required to wear a collared shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Girls would be required to wear flats or shoes with heels. Lately, highly school graduation – which lasts only an hour – has become, it seems to me, a chance for some students to figuratively “thumb their nose” at the importance of the event by wearing flip-flops, tennis shoes, shorts with iridescent high tops, or even showing up with tinted hair.
The same sort of “nose thumbing” seems to happen occasionally when senior pictures are taken. Looking back over the pictures of this year’s seniors from the newspaper, all of the girls in the class looked very nice. Most of the boys had on at least a shirt and tie. Many had a jacket on to go with the shirt and neckwear. A handful, however, were dressed in a T-shirt or an open-collared shirt with at least the top two or three buttons undone.
What I think these few kids forget is high school graduation, along with the memories associated with it, are events that will take on more meaning when someday a son or daughter looks at that senior picture and asks, “Is that you, Dad? Why was everybody but you wearing a tie?” When that moment comes, one wonders how many of those dads will muse, “What was I thinking back then? Why didn’t I bother to look my best so my son or daughter would be proud of me?”
As someone once said, “Clothes don’t make the man (or woman), but they sure do leave a lasting impression.” And one would presume that most people would want that to be a positive impression, but not always. Personal appearance is something kids getting ready to graduate from high school should keep in mind when the time comes for senior pictures. It’s not a time to be a rebel and purposely wear a crummy T-shirt for the yearbook photo!
The job interview, as mentioned previously, is probably the most important moment of all, in terms of looking one’s best, for any young person who has finished his or her education. Looking one’s best, however, isn’t all there is to it. Although not related to appearance, there are other qualities essential to successful job interviews. Verbal skills, for example, rank right up there with looking one’s best when the time comes to interview for that first job. If it were up to me, a mandatory part of every high school curriculum would be a course in public speaking. I would even go further than that; there ought to be a course not just in public speaking, but also in interviewing skills – how to prepare for a job interview, in other words.
Getting back to appearance, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to interview literally hundreds of people seeking employment. The first impression is critical – this is where that previously noted saying really applies; “Clothes don’t make the man, (or woman), but they sure do leave a lasting impression.” Here are a few of the things everyone seeking employment should always do, no matter if the candidate is seeking a factory job or interviewing for the CEO position at Eli Lilly.
Dress for the job. If it’s a factory job, wear clean, freshly pressed work clothes. For salaried jobs, a suit and tie, a fresh shave and haircut, clean hands, shined shoes, looking the interviewer in the eye, and a firm handshake are essential. Why? Anything less than that conveys the impression that the candidate isn’t all that interested in the job. If the candidate doesn’t care enough to go to the trouble to make a good appearance, so the thinking goes, he or she probably isn’t going to care all that much about doing a good job. What’s the result of not looking the part? Probably not being offered the job. The same is true for females. Freshly done hair and makeup are important. So are an appropriate dress or business suit, eye contact, and a firm handshake.
Of course, appearance isn’t all there is to it. That’s why the ability to articulate thoughtful answers to questions is so important. If the candidate doesn’t have the ability to express him or herself in an intelligent and concise manner, again, the chances of being hired go down.
Careers begin or never get started based on the job interview. That’s why being prepared for one is truly a critical moment in any young person’s life. It begins with personal appearance and ends with poise and the ability not only to think on one’s feet, but also to express oneself with confidence and clarity. The preparation needed to do all that begins in high school.
That’s -30- for this week.