Comb your hair, put on your makeup (optional for guys), and put on an outfit that you would wear to an interview. Go and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Take a good look. Now ask yourself, "would I hire me?" That is one hard question.
Take a really good look and remember that you have not said a word yet. The person that is going to interview you has only seen you. He or she has not heard your dazzling voice or the brilliant things you have to say. The interviewer has read your resume. Do you think he or she believes, after looking at you, that you are the one your resume is talking about? Can someone that looks like you be as intelligent and knowledgeable as the person described in your resume? Those are more hard questions.
Let's face it, people do judge a book by its cover, and interviewers are people. You can be assured that you would not have made it to the interview if being male or female mattered. That is pretty hard to downplay in a resume and almost impossible to disguise once you get an actual telephone call from the interviewer. Your color might be a surprise, but it had better not matter these days. Same goes for your race. If religion comes up, get ready to sue. Your accent (if English is not your native language) may be a problem, but probably not, if you got the interview after that telephone conversation.
There are lots of ways interviewers judge us, but our looks rank right up there with our attitude. As you gaze at yourself in that mirror, ask yourself whether you look like someone that would do the job for which you are about to interview. Think about it. The interviewer knows everything there is to know about your work history and qualifications for the job. They have asked you to come in, and meet them face-to-face, so they can get a look at you. Of course, they want to check out that other main thing they are evaluating--your attitude.
I suspect that ones attitude actually trumps the way one looks. Otherwise, some people you see at companies would never have gotten through the door. Or maybe their appearance has changed since they were hired. Most companies want someone who has a good attitude and has a good appearance. And there is another thing that the interview achieves. The interviewer has called you in to make sure you are not crazy; that you have not disguised the true you in your resume.
Did you ever wonder why you don't get immediate responses to that outstanding resume of yours? It is because people in charge of hiring new employees are scared to death of hiring psychos or people who have too much drama in their lives. These days, when you commit to hiring someone, it is darn near impossible to fire them. The benefits issues may cause them to screen out older candidates. You can hide your age in a resume, but you cannot hide your age when you meet with the interviewer. For that reason, I never try to hide my age and I don't waste my time applying to companies that are probably looking for younger employees. Of course, there are things you can do to minimize the visual impact of your age. I recently read a suggestion to color gray hair (easy enough) and slim down (not so easy), if you are an older job hunter. Doing contract work can overcome the benefits issues. The interview process helps the person doing the hiring to decide if any of these things are factors with you. Of course, you will never know the real reason you are denied employment. You can get mad and try to make a lawsuit, but my philosophy is: if they don't want people like me, I don't want to work there.
You have a lot to think about as you stand and look in that full-length mirror. Would I hire me? Would you hire you? Make sure you look your best for the job you are seeking, and then make sure you get an interview, if you really want the job. In the interview, prove to the person conducting the interview that you are not crazy, you have a great attitude, and you are not over the hill yet. Lose some weight, if you need to and can in time for the interview (start that today). Dress in your most flattering outfit and color your hair, if necessary. And don't forget to smile.