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Is your Car Interview Ready?

You have picked out the perfect outfit, you’ve shined your shoes, and your hair looks great. What’s missing? Your professional appearance could still be undermined by arriving in a dirty or messy car. According to a recent article titled “22 Secrets HR won’t Tell You about Getting a Job,” even the interviewee’s car may be scrutinized.

At a small company, it’s difficult to hide your car—it may be one of few in the parking lot. At a larger company, you might think your car would be unnoticed among so many others. After all, no one seems to be patrolling the parking lot. Security cameras are in many parking lots, and the images collected may be used in hiring decisions. Regardless of the size of the company, your interviewer may walk you out to your car—to look for reasons to reject you.

So when you’re getting ready for the interview, take extra time to prepare for these factors:

Clean out your car: Just as a disheveled appearance would be cause for concern, seeing an otherwise well-groomed applicant climb out of a messy car would be a red-flag. If you or your child (or your child’s soccer team) has treated your vehicle like a dump truck, take the time to clean it out the night before your interview.

When your surroundings are clean, it helps you focus. Since your car is the last place you will be before you enter the building for the interview, it can enhance your peace of mind.

Wash and/or Wax your car: This shows attention to detail. It also shows that you take pride in the care of your belongings. According to the cited article, a Hiring Manager has admitted to discarding an applicant because he didn’t think the applicant’s car was “nice enough.”

Although no more detail is given about the car or the position in question (and the Hiring Manager clearly was not a fan of Dave Ramsey), it is unfortunate that sensibility is not a highly prized trait. In some careers, having a new and expensive car is important since it is part of the desired image. Spend some extra time and wash your car. Using a product to decrease oxidation and increase shine is also recommended. Even if your car isn’t new, you can give it a “showroom finish.”

Stash the Car Seats: Since asking an applicant if he or she has children is illegal, Hiring Managers have found an effective loophole. As mentioned in the cited article, a Hiring Manager walked candidates out to their cars to look for children’s car seats. Most people never bother to remove the car seats because it can be difficult and time-consuming. Take the extra time to place the kid’s car seats in the trunk (make sure they will fit ahead of time—and do so before arriving) or leave them at home if possible. (Make sure you pick up the ring of crushed Cheerios from the outline of the seat as well.)

The right type of car: Don’t drive a foreign car to an interview at an American car manufacturer. Borrow an American car from a friend or rent one if possible. Checking the applicant’s car is a normal step for any position in this industry.

Even if it seems that no one is looking at your car, there is not guarantee they aren’t. Consider your method of transportation as another aspect of your appearance. This is especially important for networking as you will meet many people. You don’t want them to think you’re messy. For more assistance with preparations for your Job Search/Career Search, contact CrossRoads at 317-842-8881 if you are in the Central Indiana area.