Job interviews are intimidating enough without having to worry that how you look but the truth is, your outfit and beauty look could be just as important as what you have to say. In fact, according to research, 55% of what an interviewer thinks about you is based on the first 30 seconds of meeting you! We spoke to Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM, the founder and co-chairman of MHM Australasia Pty Ltd, the parent company of The Australiasian College Broadway, for some advice on how to present ourselves in a job interview situation.
By Chloe Schneider
With over 25 years experience in business, a Telstra Business Women’s Award to her name, and an Order of Australia Medal under her belt, Maureen is commited to helping Sydney women land their perfect job and has recently donated $500,00 to the Dress for Success Sydney charity – an organisation which assists disadvantaged women in securing a job so it’s safe to say she’s a pro when it comes to job interviews! Read on for her expert advice.
RESCU: Often people looking for a new job don’t have a lot of money to burn. If this is the case, how can we look our best without spending a fortune?
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM: It doesn’t cost the earth to look your best. Do you really need to buy a new outfit for the job interview? Or is there something in your wardrobe that will be suitable? It depends on the role and the employer so do your research and make your attire “occupation appropriate”.
If you do need to buy something new, establish a budget and keep to it. Buy clothing that you can mix and match like pants, skirts and blouses, and just make sure all the colours coordinate well.
Also, consider shopping at recycled clothing stores which offer designer labels at bargain prices.
But if you can’t afford to buy something, ask for help. Our community partner, Dress for Success Sydney, has helped thousands of women prepare for job interviews by providing them with professional attire, a support network and career development tools.
In addition, at the College we provide hundreds of low cost beauty treatments and services to the public by students who need the practical experience. So before you attend that job interview, think about updating your hair style, having a manicure and getting some make-up tips because the way you look is one of the most important aspects of the job interview process.
RESCU: When it comes to footwear for an interview – are heels a must?
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM: Don’t get me wrong, I love shoes, but high heels are generally not a good idea for job interviews.
We’ve seen a number of high profile tumbles, like Lady Gaga and even our own Prime Minister. The fact is that heels are potentially hazardous and a tumble is not only embarrassing, you could really injure yourself.
The most appropriate shoes for a job interview are dress shoes, with a small heel, closed toes, free from overdone embellishments and complementary to your attire.
RESCU: What’s the number one no-no when it comes to dressing for the job interview?
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM: Cleavage is the number one no-no in a job interview! New research shows that 55% of what an interviewer thinks about you is based on the first 30 seconds of the interview. Do you want the interviewer to be distracted in that first 30 seconds?
While showing some cleavage and wearing a tight top might be appropriate for a first date, it’s not appropriate in a job interview situation. Avoid V-neck and low cut tops and choose a conservative blouse instead.
For men, stay clear of novelty ties. You want to be taken seriously so wear a tie that complements your suit and shirt.
RESCU: Can you tell us a little bit more about Dress for Success Sydney and how we could help?
Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM: The Australasian College Broadway recently announced a $570,000 community partnership with Dress for Success Sydney to support disadvantaged women.
We partnered with Dress for Success Sydney because we share similar missions around enhancing women’s lives through education and employment. We also have a strong alignment in values with a focus on respect for others.
Dress for Success Sydney supports approximately 1500 women each year by providing them with professional attire, a support network and career development tools.
You can help by supporting the ‘Bubbles and Bargains’ fashion fundraising sale which will offer highly discounted new and second hand designer clothing to the general public. The event is being held at The Australasian College Broadway in Glebe on 11 November with monies raised going to Dress for Success Sydney. For a $20 entry fee you can sip champagne and enjoy the buzz as you scour the racks for some serious fashion bargains. Secure your ticket here.
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