.How to dress for a job interview is always stressful. This post empowers you to pick the right outfit and outerwear to make a great first impression. In addition, it covers tricks to enhance your appearance by the choice of your accessories, grooming, and the right makeup.
Getting a job interview invitation means you made the short list. Congratulations.
For a successful job interview, an important thing is to take control when/where you have the possibility to do so. Your outfit is in your control. It should convey confidence, and competence. Your clothes also should convey the message that you are on top of things and up-to date.
Let’s assume you applied for a job in a more conservative field. No matter whether you applied for a position in the conservative field or in the creative job field your interview outfit‘s goal is to create a polished, classic outfit that conveys the message
I know what I am doing, I take charge/control, I am a professional.
Here are important points to consider when putting a job interview outfit together:
- If they company has a webpage with photos of their employees browse it to see what they are wearing. It is a good start to find the bar that you should up a nudge. Err on their most formal side of their wardrobe.
- Go for sober neutrals (gray, navy, black, camel, brown) and a pop of color in your top or accessories (scarf, bag, belt, necklace). See this guide on how to create non-boring outfits with neutrals.
- For younger people a suit is a great option as it reads “I am mature.” Once you are over 40, a suit may work in your disadvantage. It reads “I am conservative.” The suit makes you look old and may convey the message that you might live in the past. A skirt blazer combination is more modern, fashion forward and conveys that you stayed young and hip even though you graduated from high school more than 20 years ago. Thus, a fake suit made of a blazer and skirt works in your favor.
- Nice combinations are a neutral color straight skirt in around knee length or wide leg pants (read not skinnies, but also not paper-bag trousers), blazer in another neutral color, contemporary bracelet/bangle, brooch or necklace, court pumps, silky shell or blouse.
- Another great option for women of any age is a tailored dress that flows over your body plus a short suit jacket with a scarf or medium long necklace and pumps. See this guide on styling with scarves and how to knot them.
- Men take the analogous idea of great pants and a blazer/suit jacket in different neutrals that work well together, lace up dress leather shoes, a nice shirt and tie.
- Both (wo)men over 40 stay away from tapered pants unless you have very thin hips. These trousers add bulk and may give a wrong impression about your health and/or weight and activity.
- When wearing tweed style it in a modern look.
- Avoid fashion mistakes that make you look Old.
- Women should not wear a heel higher than 2.5 inch (5 cm). Go for closed toe and heels even in summer. In many conservative fields, especially in corporate fashion, sling backs and open toe pumps or sandals are a no-no. The so-called court pumps are a save bet.
- Men, if you like to get some height, get it with an insole, a slightly thicker sole with 1 1/8 inch heel at most. Keep the cowboy boots at home.
- Make sure your clothes are flawless (no spots, runners, knots, open seams, wrinkles, polished shoes, no distress on bags or shoes, no heel damage, etc.).
- Don’t forget about the outerwear when the climate/weather calls for it. Keep in mind when you enter the place your outerwear is what they see first, and the first impression should be in your favor. Thus, style your outerwear. Go for classic coats like, for instance, a trench coat, camel coat, cocoon or pea coat. A nice cashmere or silk scarf is always a great investment.
- Find out what the weather will be. If rain is in the forecast have an umbrella handy. You don’t want to enter totally wet and with a ruined blowout. Instead you want to enter dry with a wet umbrella conveying the message “I am on top of things and stay the weathers.”
- When you are a woman engineer, also check this guide for additional engineering related dress-code tips for female engineers.
- In case, you applied for a position in the corporate world, check this guide on non-boring corporate style for further information.
- When wearing a skirt or dress, pantyhose is a Must. Have an extra pair in a sealable plastic bag in your purse in case of a runner. Alternatively, go for this new “unbreakable” legwear.
Tip: Pumps are always appropriate except for job interview dressing in some engineering disciplines.
The accessories is where your personal style and personality, i.e. uniqueness come in. Here some tips to use your accessories in your advantage.
- Women, keep your jewelry in the conservative field (see this post for earring styles). Gold or silver color are great. Studs are best, as they do not make funny noises when you are on a phone.
- A pearl necklace is sort of the equivalent to the men’s tie. But don’t wear pearl studs and a pearl necklace at the same time. It looks old fashioned. It was a Do in the 1960s.
- I know you check your time on the phone like the next gal. Nevertheless, add a watch. It conveys the message that you take time (and deadlines) seriously. A men’s watch or watch with large dial is best as you can read the time without your reading glasses. Metals are sophisticated and elegant. Wooden watches are great for the business casual field. See this review of a wood watch.
- Add a structured leather bag, briefcase or tote that is big enough to hold a tablet, lap top and folder as well as all the other things that you typically have in your purse. This size conveys the message that you are prepared/willing to take work home if needed. When you prefer vegan bags you can find high quality vegan bags from sustainable resources.
- Make sure that your shoes are polished.
Of course, you groom and take care of your appearance. However, there are some tricks to show it off to send a positive message about you and your professionalism.
- Get a nice haircut a week before. Your hair should fall naturally, look clean and healthy. If you dye your hair, make sure that no roots show.
- Get a manicure as you have to have your hands on the desk. Have your eyebrows done. You should strive to convey the message that you pay attention to details and take care of yourself.
- Your makeup should be barely there, but it should be clearly visible that there is makeup. A natural looking makeup is the finishing touch. It’s a balance act. The goal is to look professional, and not like going out or “I don’t care.”
The following photos show interview outfit inspirations. I wore a similar outfit like in the upper left photo when interviewing for my position at UAF.
Good Luck . I hope you get the job.
Photos: G. Kramm
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