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The “Hiring Decision” is often made in the first few minutes, sometimes the first few seconds, of the interview. That means appearance counts an awful lot.

Now that you know, make sure you follow these guidelines for job interview appearance.

Leave your personal style at home. If you want a job, dress for the job, not to express your individuality. Always be conservative in your dress and personal appearance during the interview situation.

Dress up, not down. It is best to wear a suit and coordinating clothing. Even companies with very informal internal dress codes usually expect the job interview candidate to dress up. It is an important occasion, so show it the respect that it deserves. No shorts, sweat suits, or clothes that are not clean or have holes.

Modesty is the best policy. One of the worst mistakes is to show up for the interview wearing to little clothing. If your shirt shows your midriff, your pants ride down too low, your skirt is too short or tight, or you are showing too much cleavage, you are not dressed appropriately.

Tattoos need to be covered, and body piercing jewelry should be removed.

For women a conservative, neutral, solid-colored suit with a conservative blouse is best. Dress pants are an excellent choice if they fit properly, are not too tight, and are the right length. Moderate height heels with pantyhose are probably your safest choice.

Clean and well-kept nails, simple makeup, and conservative jewelry complete your look.

For gentlemen a dark solid-colored suit over a long sleeve dress shirt (buttoned all the way up) and conservative 100% silk tie. Blue is your best suit color for a job interview. Black is also fine. A two-button suit coat is preferred. Only the top button of the suit coat is buttoned. The bottom button is never buttoned. Unbutton your jacket when you sit down. Make sure about a quarter inch of shirt cuff is showing.

A solid red or burgundy tie always looks nice with a dark blue suit. A “rep” tie, that is a tie with conservative diagonal stripes, is also good. The tie should touch the top of the belt, and its knot should be cinched up snug against the buttoned collar.

Cut your hair short, and make sure it is clean and well done up.

Gentlemen, remove any earrings or facial piercings.

Trim the fingernails, and make sure they are clean.

Wear little or no cologne or perfume. What smells good to you may not smell good to the interviewer.

Polish your shoes the night before. Gentlemen, wear shoes with laces. Avoid loafers.

A black belt with black shoes is your best choice for either the dark blue or black suit.

Don’t bring cell phones, ipods, or any other beeping or buzzing device into the interview. Leave them in the car.

Never bring coffee or soda to an interview. Don’t chew gum, either. Use a breath mint, but make sure you’ve finished it before you enter the building.

Please, offer a firm, conventional handshake. No limp wrist dead-fish handshake. No fist bumps. No soul shakes.

Maintain good eye contact.

After you leave the interview, take your suit and shirt or blouse to the dry-cleaners so that they are ready for the next interview.

If possible have more than one conservative suit, so that when you are called back for a follow-up interview, you are wearing a different outfit.

Most interviewers prefer male applicants be clean-shaven. Very neatly trimmed facial hair is sometimes acceptable, but clean-shaven is safer.

Be sure you are freshly showered, and use non-fragrant deodorant.

If you are told the dress code of the company is business casual, which means one notch below business dress, you may wish to consider a blazer with coordinating trousers or skirt. For example, a dark blue blazer with medium-grey slacks or skirt is a nice combination. To change the look wear the same blue blazer with nice quality tan slacks or skirt. If you have a dark blue suit, you have three potential outfits: The dark blue suit; the blue suit jacket with grey slacks or skirt; the blue suit jacket with the tan slacks or skirt.

Is all this overkill? Definitely not. If you are sloppy with your appearance, if you are not clean, if you are disheveled, your interviewer will automatically assume you are not serious about the interview. If you are not serious about preparing yourself, why should the interviewer be serious about offering you a position with his or her company?

That doesn’t mean appearance is everything. Brush up on your interpersonal abilities. Be personable. Be likeable. If you can make your interviewer think, “I would like to be around this person every day,” your chances of getting the job skyrocket.

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