HR & Management

Graduates prioritise appearance over research to look "sexy" for interviewers

4 min read

14 October 2015

Former deputy editor

Personal appearance and hygiene are important, but British graduates seem to believe that spending more time on grooming than company research is the way to “dazzle” in an interview.

The study by Marketing Minds revealed that the average university leaver spending 28 minutes in the shower, 13 minutes getting dressed and 19 minutes to shave or apply make-up.

Apparently, they believe the approach will “dazzle and impress” would-be bosses, seemingly confused that they’re appearing on stage at The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent.

Elsewhere, some top up that time with an extra 22 minutes in a bid to get their hair looking “coiffed, stylish and sexy” on the big day, which takes time spent on appearance up to 82 minutes.

That’s all well and good, however, the average candidate spends just 38 minutes on company and job research – more than half the time spent on pampering.

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More alarmingly, many graduate job seekers also said their research takes no longer than 15 minutes. And rather than finding a peaceful space to do their homework, lots revise for the interview in front of the TV or during other downtime.

As a result, many of those invited to an interview did not receive a second offer, having failed to answer questions on company history, culture and role descriptions.

“Employers want to recruit graduates who show a genuine interest in the
organisation they hope to join, and the nature and depth of the research graduates conduct will be a key factor in obtaining a job,” said Christopher Stoakes, author of ‘Commercial Awareness’ – a guide for young professionals looking to enter the business world.

“Looking smart and professional for an interview is, of course, important but employers are looking for applicants who can demonstrate by their depth of research that they genuinely want the job, know what it entails and will do it with enjoyment and enthusiasm.”

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Even after being offered an interview, just eight per cent of people spend over an hour preparing themselves for being grilled, while four per cent said they don’t do anything to prepare.

Some 28 per cent said they failed to get ready appropriately because they’re busy socialising, another 28 per cent blamed work, and ten per cent admitted sheer laziness.

Then there was the 32 per cent that said research is snubbed because they don’t think they’ll get the job anyway.

Of course, it should be noted that interviewers aren’t entirely professional either – they’ve been known to grill potential recruits on family plans, shown up late and ignored CVs.

Stoakes added: “Today’s graduates are sophisticated digesters of information, especially online. They are great at filtering and screening large amounts of data.

“But they are less good at drilling down, which is what you need to do to be able to answer the key, follow-up questions that you’ll be asked at interview. The risk is that they focus on the superficialities – which are important to a point – to the neglect of the things that really matter.

“I come across graduates making hundreds of job applications. It’s a really tough market. But as I say to them: you only need to get the one job. If you focus on the few that you really want and research them deeply, then you will shine at interview with your knowledge and enthusiasm and that is how you will succeed.”