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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

Smell Nice, but not Too Nice: How to Interview Well, Part One

**Over the past decade at Legion, I've interviewed hundreds of people - some great, some....not so great. From that experience, I've learned a great deal about what works - and what doesn't - in an interview, and I've turned that into the curriculum for my interview coaching. In this blog series, we'll explore how to prepare - mentally, physically, emotionally - for an interview.**

Today, in the first part of our series, we're going to examine the role that fragrance plays in getting your dream job. This probably seems like a minor detail, but in today's job market, details count. And, let's be honest, it is important to me, so it is Rule One.

Interview Rule One - Smell nice, but not too nice. I'm of the generation that invented Axe Body Spray, and I'm still scarred. I was never a fan of heavy perfume or cologne, but pregnancy totally nixed my ability to be in the same room with someone who had bathed in Polo Sport. Now, any kind of fragrance, whether it is perfume, cologne, cigarette smoke or Yankee Candles, gives me an immediate, raging headache.

And I'm not alone. Lots of people struggle with the inundation of smells our modern society represents, which is the reason why some offices (including Legion) have fragrance-free policies (you try cramming 30 people in an open office if all of them are wearing different, competing perfume.) I understand that for many people, putting on fragrance in the morning is as much a part of their routine as brushing their teeth, or wearing socks, but it is something to think about when you are going to an interview. The cologne that works so well on the ladies in the club might be off-putting to the HR manager conducting your interview, especially in a small interview room. I have certainly cut interviews with promising candidates short because I simply could not stand to be in the same space as them any longer.

Also, same goes for smelling bad. Bad smells - cigarette smoke, dirty clothes, sweat, etc. - are equally as off-putting as wearing half a bottle of Hai Karate. This is where some forethought and preparation can also come in handy - if you get your interview clothes together the night before, you won't be rummaging your laundry hamper in the morning for your least-smelly shirt. Judicious application of deodorant, and if you are a smoker, vigorous hand-washing before the interview, should prevent the rest.

And it should probably go without saying that garlic, raw onions, and beer shouldn't be on the menu before a big interview. Save the celebratory shrimp scampi for AFTER you get the job, and it never hurts to have some gum or mints handy.

The rule of thumb I ask everyone I coach to remember is that, for most jobs, you want your physical characteristics to fade into the background, so the interviewer can focus on your skills, abilities, and supernatural charm. The last thing you want someone to remember about you after you interview is how you smelled, when you have so much more than that to offer a company.

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