By Doris Appelbaum

Being Nervous

Almost everyone gets nervous before and during an interview. Allow yourself to feel nervous, even expect it. It is okay and normal. You'll do much better during the interview if you aren't tied up in knots fighting yourself. Remember that the situation is difficult for most interviewers also. Try to be as upbeat as possible and never be negative. It's acceptable to acknowledge your nervousness during the interview. You'll score points for honesty and candor!

How to Dress for Work and Interviews

Unless your job requires you to wear a uniform (as you have done in the military), choosing clothing for work can be difficult. There are basic industry standards, such as navy blue or black suits for accountants and bankers. What do you wear, however, if you work in an industry where there really isn't a typical style of dress? Many companies allow more casual attire. How do you keep from crossing over the line from casual to sloppy? You want to look your professional best, but you also want to appear as if you "fit in". Here are some hints:

Whatever you wear, your clothes should be neat and clean, and your shoes should be in good condition.
Male or Female: Your hair should be neatly styled. Women: makeup and accessories should be subtle.
Nails should be clean, neat, and of reasonable length.
Dress for the job you want in the future. If you hope to become a manager, dress like managers in your company.

In theory many people love the idea of not having to wear a suit or dress to work; however, they are often confused by the casual dress policies some employers have instituted in recent years. Here are some simple rules:

Casual doesn't mean sloppy. Your clothing should still be neat, clean and the right size. (see above) - Casual could mean khakis and a sport shirt or a nice sweater for men. If you are going to a meeting or making a presentation, professional attire may be a good idea.

When you go on a job interview you want to give the impression that you fit in. Dress like employees of the company. If you can, hang out in the parking lot or in front of the building when employees are arriving for or leaving from work, and observe what they are wearing. (This is, of course, difficult in the winter!) Even if you see people dressed in casual attire, remember to take it up a notch. An interview requires more formal dress. While men may not have to wear a suit and tie, men should wear dress pants and a blazer or sport jacket. For women, pantsuits are becoming as favorable as suits with skirts. Pants with a flat front and straight leg with matching jacket are most acceptable. If you wear a skirt, choose one that is stylishly long or just above the knee rather than shorter.

Don't throw away those business outfits you no longer want. If you have determined that it’s time to overhaul your wardrobe, there is an organization that needs your help. Dress For Success is a New York City based program that provides business attire to women who are looking for work but can't afford appropriate interview attire. Look for them on a search engine.

Here is bad interview behavior we have heard about: The candidate picked up his cell phone after answering a few interview questions and called his wife to let her know how the interview was going.

Handling Inappropriate Interview Questions

Most interview questions that require illegal or inappropriate information are asked in ignorance of what is acceptable or legal. Often they are an attempt to be friendly. Reacting strongly in this situation could hurt your chances of getting a really good job. For example: When asked what the candidate was currently earning, he replied, "I really don’t think that's any of your business."

Here are several better ways to handle this uncomfortable situation:

You can answer honestly if you feel the truth won't hurt you.
You can diplomatically inform the interviewer of the error in questioning
You can steer your answer to your qualifications and ability to do the job.
If you are truly offended, you can politely end the interview and thank them for their time.

Trick Question

Some questions almost seem like trick questions -- do you answer them honestly or not? One such question involves your interviewer asking you what changes you would make if you came on board. Beware – this question can disrupt your interview and your chances of getting hired. You can't possibly know the right actions to take in a position before you settle into it. You must get to know the position's strengths, weaknesses, key people, financial condition, and methods of operation. Be careful. Say that you would not want to shoot from the hip but rather, you'll want to get a good hard look at everything before making any judgments.

And remember this: Don't squat with your spurs on. - Will Rogers

Doris Appelbaum is President of Appelbaum's Resume Professionals, Inc. She is an internationally known career consultant, resume writer, speaker, and trainer. Doris can be reached at (414) 352-5994 - 1-800-619-9777 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - (414) 352-7495 (fax). Visit her website . Fax resume for FREE critique.