Preparing for a job interview: what to wear and what to ask

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Employment section of CV

In this article we look at two aspects of interviewing: what to wear, and what you might ask when given the opportunity.

For the last ten years or so dress code for job interviews has become more casual, breaking away from more traditional formal clothing.

When preparing for a job interview the human resources department should be your first contact, ask them for advice.

If the business in question does not have a human resources department, dress conservatively: business suits for men and women.

There are no fixed clothing rules which you must follow, but you should endeavour to look smart and buy good quality clothes.

If you look good, you generally have more confidence and feel good too.

Example outfit 1

  • Dark blue wool / wool blend single breasted suit (good quality)
  • Light blue long sleeve shirt (new if possible)
  • Matching silk tie
  • Dark blue socks
  • Black shoes (polished)

Example interview wear

Above source: Boss Interview Wear

Do not wear pins or cufflinks and keep jewellery to a minimum. A watch can be a smart accessory.

Example outfit 2

You can wear a skirt, trousers, a suit, a dress. If in doubt, a smart business suit is fine, together with polished shoes and suitable handbag. The key thing is to feel comfortable because you’ll perform better that way.

Women interview outfits

Above source: Boss interview wear

General interview tips:

  • Be careful not to apply too much hairspray, perfume, aftershave or cologne
  • Don’t wear revealing clothing
  • Don’t wear bright nail varnish
  • Aim for a smart conservative haircut
  • If you usually shave, have a close shave (shave early in the morning so you have time to stop any cuts bleeding)
  • If you have a beard make sure it is trimmed and neat

The above tips are fairly generic and your appearance really depends on the role you’re going for. Check out the Hugo Boss interview wear section for more tips and example outfits.

Telling the interviewer what they want to hear

The interviewer wants to know that you are resourceful, hardworking, caring, motivated and you are the right person for the job. The job interview is your chance to convince the interviewer that you have all of these attributes.

Whether you like it or not, a job interview is a competition between you and the other applicants. Applicants which may be more intelligent, better dressed or have more confidence than you. The best person does not always get the job, the winner is the person who gives the best interview.

Competitions are normally preceded by preparation and training, however most people do not bother to prepare for job interviews, which is good news for you.

The basic steps to a successful job interview are simple:

  1. Preparation – Prepare for the job interview by revising your skills and arranging answers to the most common interview questions. Mentally collate your achievements and abilities, ready to preach at a moments notice.
  2. What to say in a job interview – The interviewer wants to know how you will benefit the company, and if you will fit in.

Questions you can ask

At the end of a job interview it is common practice for the interviewer to ask you if you have any questions. To this question you must say “yes”, and ask appropriate questions which will impress your potential employer.

By asking relevant questions you are showing your employer you are confident, assertive and have an interest in the job.

Here are some sample questions:

  • Why is this job available, did the last person to hold this position leave or promoted, or is this a new position?
  • Can you elaborate on my day-to-day duties?
  • Could you describe a typical day in this position?
  • Could you describe the work environment here?
  • Is there a career path with the company?
  • How long has this position been available?
  • What do you perceive as my most pressing task within this role?
  • What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of this company?
  • Can you elaborate on the people who I will be working with?
  • What challenges may I face in this position?
  • What initial duties will I be tasked with?
  • I understand you have numerous competitors, how is this company advancing over the competition?
  • Can you describe how my performance will be measured, and by whom?
  • Which company issues do you feel have a priority?
  • If I was to start this job, what would be my first task?
  • What are the skills and abilities needed to succeed in this job?
  • What are the most pressing goals of the department?
  • How would you describe the companies’ strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors?
  • How does this position impact on the companies’ overall productivity?
  • Can you describe the management team?
  • Do you have any reservations about my suitability to the job?
  • What are you plans for growth?
  • How would you describe the corporate culture here?

Don’t ask all of these questions. You might select two or three at most, choosing those which seem most relevant to the role and company.

The Total Practice Management Association (Total PMA) is dedicated to the advancement of Solicitors, Legal Executives, Paralegals and other legal support staff in their struggle to build and manage a profitable practice without sacrificing their personal life.

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