today in black history

May 30, 2024

African American Episcopal Zion (A.M.E.Z.)Bishop James W. Hood, a fierce advocate for Blacks' rights, was born in 1831.

Image and Job Interviews

POSTED: April 24, 2009, 12:00 am

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I define image in two words: “conceived perception”. You are what your audience thinks you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving a presentation to a large audience or sitting in a job interview: you are selling yourself through your image.

I have been asked by organizations to speak to their members because many of them are finding themselves interviewing for jobs. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the importance of properly preparing for an interview. They focus solely on their résumé. Though that is important, quite often, your skills and experience are irrelevant until the second interview. The first interview is to see if you can fit into the culture of the business. They want to see how you act, react, and interact.

The first thing they see is the way you dress. Always wear a suit. I don’t care if you are applying for a job at McDonald’s, wear a suit. A suit shows you’re a professional. It may be overkill, but you are competing with others, and you need every advantage you can get. Who knows? There may be a person eating lunch that sees you interviewing, strikes up a conversation and offers you a job somewhere even better.

It is not appropriate to wear jeans to an interview, regardless how much they cost. The person interviewing you may not be aware that you are wearing a $300 Coogi outfit. There’s a good chance, they don’t even know what Coogi is. More importantly, they don’t care. If you can afford Coogi, you can afford K&G. Join the adult ranks and buy a suit. Dress like you’re serious about getting the job.

Next, leave the slang outside. “You know what I’m saying?” and “I feel you.” are not appropriate for a job interview. Speak like an educated person. Use clear concise diction. Answer the question you’ve been asked and don’t ramble. You don’t need to give your full life history just because you are asked where you are from. Make them want to hear more. Don’t have them thinking to themselves, “I wish they would just shut up!” Speak like you belong there. You want to show you fit into their culture. They are not concerned with fitting into yours.

Last, but definitely not least, use proper body language. Make eye contact, give a firm handshake, and sit up straight. Don’t lounge around like you’re talking to your friends. This is work and should be treated as such.

These tips won’t guarantee you employment. That’s not what I do. But it will help you look professional. Look around the workspace and see how everyone else dresses and speaks. Watch how they act. Watch what they do. The more you know about the environment, the better. Until next time, God Bless and dress well.

William Wilson is a respected men’s clothier and image consultant whose clients include professional athletes, CEOs, and corporations. Email him at or visit his homepage at


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