The Interview Begins The Moment You Leave Home

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Jeff was packing for his upcoming interview when his friend asked what he was wearing during his travels.  Since he was flying across the country the day before his interview, he was a bit surprised by the question.  Jeff responded by stating that he would wear something comfortable like jeans, a nice shirt and tennis shoes.  He wanted to make sure he was comfortable and not stressed out before his meetings.

His friend suggested that Jeff reconsider what he would wear on his trip.  He shared “you never know who you will meet at the airport or if a search committee member will greet you at the hotel”.  “You always need to dress for success.”

Because you never know whom you will meet during your travels, you always need to be “on”.  From the moment you leave your home, to the time you get back to your house, you are on the interview.  You need to dress appropriately, be groomed appropriately, and be prepared to share your personal sales pitch.  You also need to be polite to everyone you meet.  Members of the athletic department will know the employees at the hotel, at the car rental company, and at the restaurants.  It wouldn’t be unlikely for a member of the search committee to ask employees at the hotel, car rental agency, or restaurant about you.

During your travels, you need to wear business casual attire.  Your clothes should be ironed and professional, and your shoes should be polished.  You need to present yourself with the image you want people to think of, when they think of you.  Even if you don’t meet any search committee members along the way, by dressing appropriately you will feel good about yourself and this will enhance your self-confidence.  This increased self-confidence will shine through during the interview.

Business casual attire is not the same as interview attire.  Business casual for men includes something conservative such as khaki or dark pants, a long-sleeve button shirt or polo style type shirt, dark socks, leather shoes, and maybe a sports coat.  A suit and tie would be over-kill at this point.  For women, business casual attire would include casual pants or a conservative length skirt.  The skirt should be at knee level or below.  A tailored shirt, blouse, or sweater would be appropriate.  Dark or neutral colored leather shoes are also appropriate.

Just as you are prepared for your interview, you need to be prepared for your entire interview experience.  This includes looking professional, being friendly, and portraying the image you want to portray – from the moment you leave your home until the moment you get back.  You have one chance to make a first impression.  Make that impression both positive and professional.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his newest book Execute for Success at


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