In our Interviewing workshops, we typically recommend that job seekers go into an interview odorless (i.e. without their favorite lotion, perfume, or aftershave), so as not to trigger any allergic reactions with the interviewers. We also recommend that they try to keep their wardrobe color pallet neutral, so that it is them and their amazing skills that are memorable – not their SCREAMING clothes. While I’m positive that these recommendations are valid, my curiosity was piqued about just how big of a role these “sensory” factors play . . . so I decided to do a little research.
As human beings, we use our senses to gather information about the things around us. We then process and filter this information to form our perception or impression of these things. In most cases, no two people will have the exact same perceptions because each of us filter incoming information based on previous experiences.
The sense of smell works in the opposite direction of the other senses – typically we have an emotional reaction to a scent and then try to identify what it is. With our other senses, typically we identify the information first and then we react to it. The sense of smell is located in the limbic region of the brain– the same part that affects emotions, memory, and creativity…which is probably why scents are closely tied to stress, concentration, moods, and memories.
According to the article Ten Fun Facts About Sense of Smell, people can remember smells with 65 percent accuracy after one year. So while it may work in your favor if you are wearing a scent that reminds your interviewer of pleasant things, just imagine the ramifications if you wear the same scent as a cheating significant other or dearly departed loved one!
The other factor I researched was the impact of color. The article, Influence with Color Psychology, states that color is one of the first things a person notices when it comes to forming impressions – especially from a distance. This article explains that color has the psychological power to influence emotion, sway perception, and alter judgment and behaviors.
It would appear that research reinforces my original advice–Be aware of the impact smells and colors could have on whether or not you make a Sense-ational Impression in that interview! 🙂
Bobi Cook is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She currently conducts job skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region utilizing her MBA and over ten cumulative years experience as a professional educator, quality systems manager within the automotive industry, and small business administrator to help job seekers develop and implement successful job search campaigns.