Knowing how to dress for a job interview can demonstrate your knowledge of what the industry finds appropriate and that you respect the company as well as the interview process.
How to suit up!
1. Make sure your clothing is suitable for the weather. If you’re interview takes place in Florida – in August – the interviewer may not be impressed to see you sweating in your black wool suit – it might even be mistaken as nervous sweating.
2. Make sure it is apt for the specific industry. Legal, banking, and corporate positions will expect a more conventional attire while a position in fashion or media may allow you to add a few personal touches to your outfit to show your creativity.
3. Unless you’re aware the industry allows for a brighter choice, choose a traditional color scheme. Black and navy blue suits are always proper. Well-fitted white and light blue shirts or blouses may seem dull but will impress as well.
4. Be careful to choose tasteful ties. Bright power ties are no longer as accepted as they were in the late 80’s and early 90’s. You don’t have to go with a solid color but you may also want to avoid prints and patterns – like a pattern of yellow rubber ducks – that could potentially be distracting.
5. Avoid perfume or cologne. You may have your favorite scent but unfortunately, it could bother the interviewer. Go for clean but don’t go for the Axe.
6. Accessories such as jewelry, purses and briefcases should be complimentary to your outfit. What you wear should not distract the interviewer. For example, jewelry should be minimal and not interfere with shaking someone’s hand or the candidate’s movement.
7. Hair and makeup should also be simple and not distracting. Men, if the industry you’re attempting to enter is conservative, think of getting a haircut a few days before. Women, whether you choose to wear your hair down or styled, choose what is most comfortable and what you won’t unconsciously play with at the interview.
8. The details from top to bottom matter so make sure your footwear is doesn’t have scuff marks. Polish your shoes the day before and if you choose to wear high heels, it should be a mid-sized heel and not stilettos.
What if you don’t know what to wear?
First, do what you do best and search online. There’s an abundance of industry specific advice out there. Or give someone with a bit more knowledge a call, such as a college career service office or even the company’s human resource department. If the Internet fails you and you can’t give someone a call, err on the side of formal rather than casual. You could wear jeans but it’s better to suit up and constantly impress than be noticed for the wrong reasons. You would also rather make a positive impact on the interviewer than a bad impression. And if all else fails, find someone knowledgeable about clothing by asking for help at a department store.
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