There are several perspectives to life – thank God it isn’t only what we think that matters. The Johari Window shows us that those around us are often able to know stuff about us that we don’t know about ourselves (Blindspots) even while there could be stuff both we and they have no clue about (the unknown).
Its normal to be over-confident and think you’ll ace it when you come right down to that situation. Until you get there and you don’t. Because you aren’t prepared. You aren’t ready. And you miss your opportunity.
By the end of my campus years, I thought of myself as an extremely confident, go-getter worker bee and saw the world quite literally as my oyster. However, I had no clue of what I had to do to give appropriate outward expression of this confidence. I grew and grew my inner self but had no way of proving it to a prospective employer within the time it took to get interviewed.
Just to show you how badly off I was, I said constantly “I’m going to get a job as soon as I graduate”, but never thought of which clothes I’d wear to the interview, let alone work.
When I got my first internships, I struggled to quickly piece some outfits together but there was always a glitch. I remember interning at a small PR company owned by an old mzungu – it was situated in a cold area. I’d come in the morning wrapped in my kikoy, which I’d fold away once I was in the office. But soon enough, I’d wrap myself up again, since I didn’t have a blazer or sweater. You can imagine me in the office wrapped up like a cucu in her kitchen. When my internship was up and I asked for a job with the company, your guess is good that I didn’t get the job.
We live in a competitive world. At an interview definitely bring you’re A-game inside and out. Work on your confidence and remember to also work on the appropriate outward expression of that confidence. What would that be?
♡ A smiling and open face that says to the world “I’m happy to meet you and I would love to get to know you…”
♡ A firm handshake – There’s nothing that disappoints me like a limp “dead” handshake. Take hold of my hand in a way that tells me “I know who I am – I’m confident. How about you?”
♡ Accessories and Make –up – There are no hard and fast rules here. Bottomline, you want to leave an impression – a good impression. Classy people know that less is more. Keep the simple watch or bracelet. Leave out the bangles, nose-ring and your maasai-market “Kenya yetu” bracelet.
♡ Hair – for men this is easy! Keep it short and neat. For women, our hair differs with our unique variations. But a good guide would be – keep it simple, even boring (depending on where you are interviewing). If you are trying for a job in a conservative (chilled out) environment like a bank, this is not the time to try braid color and hair color picked from the rainbow spectrum. Keep it black. I know, I know, I had a 2-year issue accepting this. If it’s a job in advertising, well, different environment! But my advise on all fronts is: KISS – Keep it So Simple! You never know what your interviewer dislikes and you don’t want to be caught in “it”.
♡ Dress – when starting out on interviewing, we’ve all gotten the impression that we should be in suits. I say it depends if you are a man or a woman and what kind of suit we are talking about. If you are going to wear a suit, wear a well-kept fashionable suit that actually fits you. The problem with depending on that “interview suit” is that people tend to revert to the same suit they wore for an interview 3 years ago – in which time they have either added or lost weight. They probably left it exposed to the merciless dust and it has probably changed colour or worn out. They probably had it hand washed, it shrank and now the lining is hanging out. And that suit makes you look like your grand-dad because its 5 years old and fashion has completely moved on!
This is not to say that I’m not a fan of suits. I know I’ll pay more attention to a man or woman who is dressed in a beautiful suit than one who isn’t. It tells me they are serious professionals who want and can do the job and … leave nothing to chance!
Women have more alternatives – they can wear a tailored official dress or a skirt and blouse in their choice of colour and get away with it.
My advice though: Still keep it so simple. Put on reserved (quiet) colours. Minimize the colours on your person to a maximum of 3.
Then there’s lots of talk about the influence of colours on our audience. Read about it, investigate it and act on it on those blouses, ties and accessories. You need to bring you’re A-game.
Which is your clearest memory when it comes to dressing for work? Any funny stories or defining moments?
Credits: Nikki Njogu