24 Jun 2018
Appearance is a huge part of first impressions, and presenting yourself in a tidy, confident, and poised manner is the key to winning people over on the initial encounter. Research shows that people decide whether or not they want to work with you within three seconds of meeting you, which means you have to make those seconds count. When it comes to job interviews and landing the position, dressing sharply, and self-assuredly is often a huge difference maker. Before you decide what to wear to an interview, keep the following points in mind:
Learn about the company
It helps to get to know more about the environment you could soon be working in, including the dress code of its employees. Visit a company’s website and social media pages to view what its current employees wear. Take notes, and model your outfit accordingly.
Observe the “one step higher” rule
Once you know what employees wear, take it up a notch by dressing one level of formality higher. This means that if the employees wear collared shirts and khakis, go to the interview wearing slacks and a blazer with a polo shirt underneath. If they wear blazers, then wear a business dress, and so on.
Have a dress rehearsal
This is especially crucial if you plan to wear newly bought clothes for the interview. Try your outfit on days before the meeting to ensure a proper fit and avoid any wardrobe malfunction. If there’s something off with your getup, you still have enough time to fix it.
Show up well-groomed
Make sure to show up looking polished. This means paying attention to your hair, fingernails, and overall appearance. Has your outfit been cleaned and pressed? For women who wear makeup, keep it simple, and don’t let it draw attention unto itself. Bring a grooming kit with you in case you need a little freshening up before the interview. As minor as these details appear, they help create an overall impression of neatness and raise your look from presentable to perfect.
Don’t go overboard
Simple is the name of the game. Avoid anything too bright or flashy that calls extra attention to your appearance. Rather than showcasing your individuality through your apparel, blow their minds with your answers instead.
Decoding dress codes
Sometimes, even when you already know what the company dress code is, you’re still left scratching your head. When they say ‘casual’, how do you know what’s too casual? And what’s the difference between business and business casual? To break it down in detail, here’s a cheat sheet to help you understand the different dress codes along with some valuable tips for job interview dressing success.
If you’re unsure what to wear, a professional/business attire is always a safe bet. For men, a business ensemble usually consists of the traditional three-piece—a shirt and tie, and then slacks and a suit jacket. And don’t forget to shine your plain black leather shoes for the occasion. For women, this can mean a jacket, a button-down blouse and dress pants, although a statement dress may also suffice, as long as you keep it modest. Make sure you don’t show any bra or cleavage. And keep your blouse tucked in.
If the work attire at the company leans on the informal side, ditch the suit and wear a business casual outfit for the occasion. Men might consider a button-down or polo shirt, dark jacket, solid-colored trousers or dress slacks with belt, and dress shoes. That said, a navy blue blazer on a white shirt with khakis is a simple, but extremely effective set. Women may go for a conservative pairing such as a blouse/skirt or blouse/dress pants to go along with black heels or black ballet flats. The navy/white top that works for guys may also work for girls in a business casual setting. You may even add a V-neck sweater to the getup for a more versatile look.
Although you may have heard them used interchangeably nowadays, ‘casual’ and ‘street clothes’ are two entirely different sets of clothing. A casual outfit is one that still retains certain aspects of business attire for respectability and not one where anything goes. Even with the less formal approach, the casual look still gives off a professional and well put-together vibe. Men might consider wearing a tucked-in long-sleeved shirt, khakis, and casual leather shoes. A tie may be worn for accent. Women might wear a work dress, or a collared shirt matched with a pencil skirt. If you’re having trouble choosing the right pairing, the traditional ‘little black dress’ can do you no wrong. An ‘LBD’ that has a structured fit, formal details, and doesn’t skim the knee can exude a professional yet still modern look.
What to avoid
Regardless of the company you’re applying to, there are just some things you should never wear to a job interview. You want to stand out in a good way, and with that in mind, here’s what to avoid when you are interviewing for a new job.
Perfume– As you prepare for the interview, avoid bathing yourself in scent. It’s your answers and not the way you smell that you want the interviewer to remember about you.
Headphones– Listening to music before the job interview is a great way to relax, drive away the nervousness, and put yourself in a positive mood. While it’s perfectly fine to listen to music on your way to the interview, stow them away before you come face-to-face with the interviewer. Otherwise, you risk appearing preoccupied and uninterested.
Street clothes– Again, casual doesn’t mean sloppy, so don’t ever wear short shorts, a tank top, sandals and the like to your interview. You want to look professional, so super-casual pieces are out of the question.
At the end of the interview, you want the hiring manager to remember your answers, and not what you were wearing. Consider these tips as you select your outfit because they can help put you in a position to leave the best possible first impression on your encounter.