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We all make judgements about the people we come into contact with within the first few seconds of meeting them. In fact, we tend to assume that people who dress well are more competent, even if they aren’t. Job interviews are no exception.
This may seem unfair, but it’s a reality: your outfit will make a first impression before you even get a chance to introduce yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to choosing an interview outfit, but following these steps will help you figure out the right choice for you.
1. Observe Others
To get a sense of how you might want to present yourself, take a trip to a public space—like a park or coffee shop—and do some people-watching. For each person that passes, write down the first adjective that comes to mind. Use words like professional, confident, or stylish. Decide which words you’d like to be associated with and mirror that look.
2. Phone a Friend
Now that you have an idea of how you want to dress, reach out to 2-3 people you trust and have them weigh in on some options. Ask them to share their thoughts on the outfit, whether it looks professional, and if it conveys the image you’d like to communicate.
3. Strike a Pose
If you look good, you feel good. It’s not just a saying, it’s been proven. Studies show that when someone thinks they look good, their posture improves and they feel more confident. In the right outfit, you will instinctively strike a “power pose” by pulling your shoulders back, puffing out your chest, and placing your hands on your hips.
If you don’t have an outfit that makes you feel great and will enable you to put your best foot forward, consider buying one. “Fast fashion” retailers have great clothes for any occasion at affordable prices. It may be worth the short term investment to secure a job that will pay off in the long run. If that’s not an option, reach out to a friend or family member and ask to borrow an outfit. They may enjoy the chance to help.
The more prepared you are for an interview, the more confident you’ll feel. The right outfit will help you make a strong first impression the second you walk in the door.