Feature

Untidy, scruffy, rude people don't get jobs

A quarter of all job seekers fail at interview because they are untidy, scruffy or don't know how to behave, according to a survey by online recruiter Fish4jobs, writes Nathalie Towner.

One excited candidate accidentally spat at the interviewer when answering a question; another returned from the washroom with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, the agency reports.

"Your interview appearance refers directly to your character, performance and relational capabilities. Employers only have a short time to judge your suitability so appearance and grooming will be scrutinised intensely," said Ineke Bolt, lecturer in bioethics at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, whose research interests include appearance and professional success.

Job seekers spend hours polishing CVs but many fail to understand the importance of personal presentation. Nearly one in five (19%) human resources (HR) managers say they lose interest in untidy candidates, no matter how good their CV.

But it is not only looks that count: 31% of HR managers say applicants should spend more time preparing for difficult questions. Even the basic, like "Why are you the best person for the job?" are often answered badly.

Most candidates (52%) admit they spend less than two hours researching the company and preparing answers to standard questions. "You should be able to explain why you want the job and talk through your career to date. If you find yourself struggling with basic questions you are wasting the interviewers' time and a great opportunity to sell yourself," said Jonathan Turpin, chief executive officer at Fish4jobs.

By preparing responses to likely questions you can focus on the delivery of your answers. "If you are repeatedly getting turned down at job interviews when you are qualified for the job, you should check your interview presentation to ensure that you are projecting the right image," said Turpin.

Preparation leads to interview success
HR manager opinion:
200 private and public sector HR managers polled
Do you agree with the following statements? Yes
Most candidates spend lots of time on grooming but not enough time preparing answers to basic questions: 31%
Candidates should prepare more for their interviews: 26%
I immediately lose interest in an untidy candidate: 19%
Candidates fail because their interview performance does not live up to their CV: 15%
Candidate presentation standards are getting higher and interviews tougher: 9%

Weak points
Interviewers will mark you down for:
  • Being late

  • Dirty or unpolished shoes

  • Badly wrinkled shirt

  • Bad posture

  • Inappropriate clothes

  • Failure to speak up

  • Dirty fingernails

  • Body odour

  • Limp handshake.

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This was first published in September 2002

 

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