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The ugly truth about job interviews, an interview with Paul Boross

The way you look can count more than your CV. As unemployment in the Eurozone hit 11.9 percent in January 2013, recruiters are making difficult decisions in an increasingly competitive employment market, and whether it is conscious or subconscious, appearances count.

While qualifications and experience might look good on paper, factors like obesity, personal hygiene, tattoos and piercings could make the difference between getting the dream job and being overlooked at the vital interview stage.

“People need to think about their own personal brand, and how others see them” says psychologist, internationally acclaimed author and “Pitch Doctor”, Paul Boross. His new book, “Pitch Up” published this month, shows jobseekers how to develop their own brand to compliment and fit in with the brand the recruiting company is aiming to create. “Companies spend millions developing brands and personalities that often polarise opinion for products like mobile phones, cars and clothes. People should look at their appearance, their wardrobe and even their social media profiles to see what they communicate about themselves. There are brands that you aspire to, and brands you wouldn’t be seen dead buying,” says Boross. “Having a personal brand means being clear about who you are and accepting that you’re not to everyone’s taste.”

According to Paul, employers will make certain judgements depending on your appearance. Whilst it’s not fair or even legal for an interviewer to judge a candidate in this way, the research shows that people will weigh up subjective criteria first, usually without realising it, and then find a way to prove their decision afterwards. “We can’t take the people out of the selection process, and even the most experienced and well-trained interviewers can still be biased, so you must do everything that you can to remove the effect of that bias”.

Obesity – Some people will jump to a conclusion about your lifestyle, so get some advice on how to dress appropriately. There are many well known ‘plus size’ celebrities who look great, because they dress for the size they are, not the size they wish they were. Tattoos – More and more people are getting tattoos these days, so while they’re generally more accepted than they were, the impression they send depends very much on the job you’re applying for. Ask for advice from your parents or older relatives. Piercings are more acceptable now than they were, with the benefit that you can temporarily remove them. Play safe and show the interviewer that you are serious about making a good impression.

Revealing clothes – Save these for the nightclub, because you won’t get the job of your dreams by teasing the interviewer. You’re more likely to send completely the wrong message about yourself. Probably the biggest single hurdle to overcome is a belief that your appearance is part of your personal statement, and you don’t want to ‘sell out’ by wearing a suit and tie when it doesn’t fit your personality. The point for you to remember is that you’re not going to the interview to show off your personality, you’re going to show them that you’re the right person for the job. People, in their nature, are subjective and interviewers will always ask themselves the question, “What will my staff and customers think of this person? What message do they send about my company?” The secret of getting the job of your dreams is finding a company that sends a message that is equally important to you, too.

Paul’s new book, Pitch Up!: Pitch Yourself for the Job of Your Dreams is out this month, £7.99, published by CGW Publishing.

This article was originally published at HRDirector.com

Read Paul’s blog here.

paul Boross

The Pitch Doctor is Paul Boross — and he is passionate about communication. Drawing on a career that has seen him move from primetime TV and stand-up comedy to trans-Atlantic development deals, media consultancy and motivational psychology, Boross has worked with such power players as the BBC, Google and MTV, training executives from the worlds of business and media in a range of communication, presentation, storytelling, performance and pitching skills. He has also coached several household names, including Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson, top BBC newscasters and headline comedians.

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