Take control of your interview appearance
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. It also should send the message that you are on top of things and up-to date.
Interview outfit for the conservative work force
Let’s assume you applied for a job in a more conservative field. Your goal is to create a polished, classic outfit that conveys the messageI know what I am doing, I take charge/control, I am a professional. Click To Tweet
Here are ten important points to consider when putting a job interview outfit together:
- If they company has a webpage where it has 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).
- For younger women and men a suit is a great option as it reads “I am mature.” Once you are over 40, a suit may work in your disadvantage as it reads “I am conservative.” The suit makes you look old or conveys the message that you might live in the past. A combination is more modern, fashion forward and conveys that you stayed you and hip even though you graduated from high school more than 20 years ago. Nice combinations are a neutral pencil skirt around knee length or wide leg pants (read not skinnies), 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. 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 stay away from tapered pants unless you have very thin hips. They add bulk and my give a wrong impression about your health and/or weight and activity.
- 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 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.). Runners are never in style. #dress4success #agelessstyle Click To Tweet
- Women, keep your jewelry in the conservative field. 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. I know you check your time on the phone like the next gal, but nevertheless, add a watch. It conveys the message that you take time (and deadlines) seriously.
- Add a structured 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.
- 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. 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. #dress4success Click To Tweet
- Get a nice haircut a week before. Your hair should fall naturally, look clean and healthy. Get a manicure as you have to have your hands on the desk. Have your eye brows done. You should strive to convey the message that you pay attention to details and take care of yourself. Groom for your job interview. #acreeradvice Click To Tweet
- Your makeup should be barely there, but it should be clearly visible that there is makeup. 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 four interview outfit inspirations. I wore a similar outfit like in the upper left photo when interviewing for my position at UAF.
Oliveo navy blue blazer with gold metal buttons, gray pencil skirt, Oliveo chambray shirt, metallic pumps, pearl necklaces, silk scarf, and Modalo Pippa bag (all own)
Ann Taylor floral tweed skirt, Oliveo chambray shirt, quartz necklace, Hermes collier de chien cuff, Tissot watch, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel, Oliveo faux suede blazer, and Dior boots (all own)
Black straight skirt with printed GNW top, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Kate Moss for Longchamp satchel bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, scarf, Anne Klein pumps, and Oliveo blazer (all own)
Ruby Belle tailored dress with sheer panty hose, pumps, structured office bag and cocoon leather coat as outerwear (all own) for an interview outfit in fall
Good Luck 🙂 . I hope you get the job.
You can more tips for professional outfits and various other dressing situations in midlife, in my style recipe book “How to Dress for Success in Midlife”. Buy your copy now.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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