Men and women have different faux pas when it comes to wardrobe, but they make a lot of the same mistakes when it comes to personal hygiene and grooming. And while most of my clients apply to work in conservative environments like law firms, investment banks, and corporations, the hygiene and grooming faux pas discussed here are important to avoid in any work environment.
They are the distracting and annoying mistakes that could put an end to all the hard work you’ve done in writing your resume, targeting employers, and scheduling and preparing for interviews. That’s pretty bad. But the good news these mistakes are all avoidable.
Those who’ve read my other blogs and How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students know that I don’t just rely on my own opinions for these tips. I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-makers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters—in other words, the people who will be interviewing you.
- You stink. Maybe you smell like cigarette smoke. Or you used too much perfume or cologne. Maybe your breath is horrible. Whatever it is, it’s making your interviewer’s nose wrinkle and eyes water, and she’s counting the minutes until your interview is over. Air out (or better yet, clean) those dress clothes that have been stored in your smoke-filled home. Don’t smoke before your interview. Keep applications of cologne, perfume, and scented products to a minimum. Save your pungent and spicy snacks until after your interview. In other words, don’t be remembered as the guy that caused your interviewer to Febreeze her office and that sent her running for her asthma inhaler.
- You should have done something about that facial hair. Yes, this does apply to men and women. Unruly—or unexpected—facial hair is a distraction to your interviewer. He doesn’t want to stare at the tufts of hair coming for your ears or your hairy lip, but he can’t help himself. Guys, keep in mind that—fair or not—facial hair is a no-no in some work places. So keep your mustache, beard, and sideburns in good order, and be aware that you may be better off clean-shaven for your interviews.
- You’re sweaty. Of course we all sweat, and even more so when we’re nervous. But the old adage, “Never let them see you sweat” holds true for job interviews. A sweaty handshake is an unpleasant way to start the interview—both for you and for your interviewer. So bring a handkerchief with you to dry off those sweaty palms before you walk in the door. And while you’re at it, dab down your forehead, nose, upper lip, or any place else you’re prone to visibly sweat. Wear your antiperspirant and deodorant, and dress in natural fibers that allow your skin to breathe and sweat to evaporate.