What’s Your Costume? Perception vs. Reality

Happy Halloween! Today is a day to dress up and pretend to be someone you’re not, or be someone you wish you could be. Are you the hero? The princess? Or the scary monster lurking in the shadows? All of this talk of dressing up and playing someone else leads me to talk about how you are perceived by others.

Perception is Reality 
The way you dress, speak, and approach a recruiter or employer for the first time speaks volumes, so it’s important to make sure you are perceived correctly. For example, in the past I have completed phone screens before bringing an individual in for a face-to-face interview. I was working a manager role supervising first line retail workers, doing cash handling, etc. and I found, what seemed to be, a great person. The initial phone interview was great – they had all the right experience and answered all the questions correctly – so I decided to bring them in for an interview and tour of the facility.

Well, I sure did wish it was Halloween that day. The candidate’s outfit choice contained a sports team themed t-shirt, jean capris, & white platform flip flops. Not to mention the person had extremely messy hair and an unkempt appearance in general.

I continued with the interview. Despite my initial perception, the person I spoke with on the phone suddenly disappeared into a nightmarish interview. They played with their toes and feet the entire time and at the end of the interview offered to shake my hand. Yup… After the germophobe in me died a little, I professionally shook their hand and then immediately washed it. Needless to say, I passed on the candidate.

Tips for a Better Perception and Interviewing “Costume”

  • Speak as eloquently as possible. Do not talk over the interviewer, yet remember to say yes ma’am/sir, no ma’am/sir, and please and thank you. Miss Manners should be proud.
  • Always be professional in nature – a firm handshake with eye contact says a lot.
  • Make sure you look put together. Sure, you had a crazy morning, but don’t let the interviewer know it. If you tend to twist or play with your hair when nervous, make sure it’s pulled back in a bun or braid.
  • ALWAYS dress professionally. I don’t care if you are interviewing at the Piggly Wiggly, you had BETTER at least have on nice trousers/skirt, a clean shirt/blouse, brushed hair and good breath.
  • Smile…. No one likes a Debbie Downer… Employers want happy, positive employees. Fake it till you make it! Perception IS reality!

Happy Halloween!!

Author: Recruiter Erin Stevens is also a Millennial, a member of Indiana SHRM (Society of HR Managers), and has a Masters degree in Human Resources.

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