Tough Times: Dressing and preparing for interviews

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Career counselors recommend preparing in advance for job interviews by getting professional outfits and doing research about the company.

Organizations like Dress for Success and Career Gear offer women and men struggling to afford appropriate interview attire professional clothing for free. All of the items are donated and refurbished and given to those in need. According to Regina Howard, of Dress for Success, women just need to come in to the store at 2038 Davidson Ave. and the workers can help them put together an outfit and prepare for their interviews. Career Gear provides men in need with similar services.

"We know by helping women we're helping families," Howard says. "And that affects change in the community."

Howard and other experts also recommend women preparing for interviews wear close-toed shoes, some makeup and professional-looking jewelry. Howard says both men and women should avoid wearing too much perfume and cologne and should keep their nails short and clean.

Experts say future employees should begin researching the company at least a week before the interview by reading the company Web site and publications. Interviewees should also come up with a list of questions about the company or the specific position to ask at the interview.

Lakeisha Johnson, of Dress for Success, recommends interviewees begin an interview with a firm handshake. Johnson says it is imperative to listen to the questions attentively and take time forming answers. Experts say interviewees should avoid mentioning salary and benefits during the interview.

Johnson says future employees should consider questions the interviewer might ask and practice answers before the actual interview. She also says prospective workers should bring photo ID, the name and contact information of the interviewer, a pad of paper and pen, and a folder with a few copies of the resume and cover letter.

Experts recommend arriving for interviews about 10 minutes early.

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