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How To Dress for an Interview

how to dress for an interview

Whether we like it or not, judgments based on first impressions happen all the time, and studies show that people are paid more or less depending on their appearance. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that your wardrobe speaks just as highly as your actual responses during the interview.

Even if you don’t have a single interview on your calendar, there is no better time to start piecing together a crisp interview outfit that will help guide your first impression in the right direction. Best of all, having a predetermined “power outfit” hanging in the closet gives you one less thing to stress about during the interview process.

Invest in You

Since the interview is the first, and perhaps only opportunity you will have to prove to the hiring manager that you are the best candidate, investing in an ‘interview outfit’ is always a great idea. And while options are nice, these pieces are must-haves for any professional wardrobe and can easily transition from interview to office wear:

  • White Dress Shirt: While a plain white long sleeve dress shirt can be exactly that (plain), it’s a staple in both the interview and office wardrobe.
  • Comfortable, Polished Shoes: Find a good pair of shoes that are classic, conservative, close-toed and extremely comfortable. Remember that they will be great to wear after you land the job, so be sure to keep them polished and in good shape.
  • A Plain, Dark Pencil Skirt: Ladies, there is nothing more classic and appropriate than the black pencil skirt. They are versatile, can be dressed up or dressed down and are easily paired with any blouse for an appropriate outfit.

While we all seem to lean towards plain black suits, navy is actually considered to be a more flattering color on most people; but if you aren’t ready to make the navy leap, charcoal is always a classic option. When choosing a shirt to wear under your new suit, remember that while it doesn’t have to be a solid color, it should be complementary. And while a white long sleeved shirt is the traditional route, feel free to venture off of the beaten path (just a little) and opt for a little more color.

A Few Professional Color Palettes:

  • Navy, French blue and lavender
  • Black, white and powder blue
  • Gray, steel blue, mauve and white

The Perfect Fit

When it comes to interviews, it’s imperative to dress to impress. While it’s important to consider the companies’ culture ahead of time, it’s impossible to be dressed too professionally for the initial interview. With this in mind, a $3,000 suit can still look out of place if it doesn't fit properly.

While you are trying on dress clothes, always take a few minutes to ask yourself “does this fit?” Going to a tailor will ensure that everything fits perfectly and will not only make you more comfortable during your interview, but will also make you appear more put together, credible and best of all, confident.

Watch the Details

Since your attire is often called a ‘visual’ resume, it’s important to send a message of precision, cleanliness and professionalism. Keep in mind that employers know that attention to detail in your attire (like nice tie clips and ironed slacks) will transfer to your work performance.

So after you have chosen the perfect interview outfit, be sure to pay specific attention to these details:

  • Minimal (and natural looking) make up and accessories
  • Only 1 small, (preferably stud) earring in each ear
  • No fragrances or perfumes
  • Tidy hair (men, keep facial hair well groomed)
  • Filed and chip free nails, free of any attention-grabbing polish
  • Polished and scratch free shoes
  • Professional and scratch free briefcase or purse

While interviews can be overwhelming, wearing an outfit you are comfortable in can help ease the anxiety of the situation. After you have chosen a polished look, wear it during your mock interviews with friends or family members because testing your outfit will help you feel more comfortable when it's time for the real interview and can serve as an instant confidence booster!

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