Make Your Appearance Your Best Marketing Tool!

Great tips and tricks from Merry herself!

Make Your Appearance Your Best Marketing Tool!

Merry Nachemin
SIBL Presentation—3/14/13
Make Your Appearance Your Best Marketing Tool!

By Merry P. Nachemin, LCSW-R

Please note that the categories referenced below are from an article by Peter Fiske, Ph. D.

On Thursday 3/14/13 I presented my topic, “Make Your Appearance Your Best Marketing Tool” at SIBL. As always, it was an extremely rewarding experience for me because I got to interact with the attendees, hear their perceptions and respond to their questions.

Some of the key points that I made are that there are 10 main interview biases faced by job seekers from an image perspective. That is really a misleading statement because while these biases may seem superficial, in fact, science is learning more every day about how the factors that I mention here are hardwired into the human brain. I believe that many of them are triggered by unconscious mechanisms and in that regard are not “deliberate” as we think of deliberate actions such as catching a ball. Nevertheless, they are factors to take into consideration when entering someone else’s universe with an eye toward becoming part of that universe.

Six of them are under your control. Four of them are not. In brief, they are:

Biases Under Your Control


Suggested Optimal Remedy for Best Outcome

The “Primacy Effect”

The “First Impression”

  • Most indelible & visceral impression
  • Always come early
  • Always look crisp & well-groomed

The “Halo Effect”

One characteristic colors other traits positively or negatively

  • Research your target company & interviewer
  • Your poise, taste & focus can effect your “halo” positively

The “Beauty Bias”

Candidates who are more attractive have a much greater chance of being hired

  • While we can’t all be Mr. or Ms. America, we can all have good grooming & look our personal best

The “Similar to Me” Effect

Looking or seeming similar to the interviewer or having similar interests gives you a better chance in the candidate pool

  • Once again, research is key here
  • While you want to be genuine, you may discover that you share an interest or a cultural similarity

The “Nonverbal Bias”

The interviewer judges you based on your body language

  • Practice your web-to-web, firm handshake
  • When the interviewer speaks, lean forward
  • Maintain eye contact
  • DON’T look at your watch
  • TURN OFF your cell phone, put it on silent or leave it at home

The “Anchoring Bias”

  1. Similarly to other biases, an interviewer may “anchor” one trait and generalize about all of your traits.
  2. Interviewers guesstimate your salary level based on your initial appearance
  3. If you look “low maintenance” the interviewer will think your salary should be “low maintenance”
  • Wear the best clothes you can afford
  • Make sure your shoes are polished
  • Make sure that there is no lint on your clothing
  • Make sure that there are no loose threads


Biases Beyond Your Control


Suggested Optimal Remedy for Best Outcome

The “Contrast Effect”

Your ranking relative to others in the group

While you cannot control who else has applied for the position, you can do the best you can.

The “Harshness or Leniency Bias”

Companies know that some interviewers are usually positive & some are negative.  They have both people interview candidates to get balance

You can hope that you influence the more lenient interviewer as much as possible.  If you know who your interviewers will be, you can research both & look for things with which you have something in common with both.  It couldn’t hurt.

The “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Bias”

Once judgment is made—positively or negatively—interviewers look for traits that support their bias

As with all the biases, this can work in your favor if you are the top candidate to begin with.

The “Recency Bias”

The interviewer judges you based on more recent interviews conducted rather than earlier interviews

While you cannot influence who applies or when they are interviewed, if you think you have a good shot you might select a slot later rather than earlier.

As I mentioned during my presentation, any one of these biases can work in your favor as well as against you. The best things any interviewee can do is take a step back, breathe, observe the process that is going on and do the best you can. If you do that, you will be at your best in almost all situations and will be best able to think on your feet.

As John Malloy said in his book, “Dress for Success”, “People who look successful & well-educated receive preferential treatment in almost all business or social situations”. The good news is, you have total control over the way you dress!

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