A big part of getting a job is how you present and carry yourself in the interview. When you go in for the interview, the interviewer will be looking at more than just your qualifications. They’re going to be taking note of what you’re wearing too. And it would be a shame if all of the efforts you put into practice for the interview were sabotaged by an outfit failure.
So, if you want to make the best impression, it’s essential to dress for success. But what does that mean, exactly? How can you make sure you’re not overdressed or underdressed for an interview? You want to convey that you understand the company culture and will be a great fit but remain professional. Keep reading for some tips on dressing for your interview.
What Not to Wear to a Job Interview
Deciding what not to wear is often the essential first step. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but you should invest in a comfortable and on-trend outfit for your round of interviews. Double-check that none of the items are on this list of no-gos before purchasing it.
Don’t Choose Something Uncomfortable
Before you skip this with a “well yeah,” take a moment to hear this point. Often, it’s about how an outfit makes you feel. Walking in with confidence because you have clean, well-fitted clothes on can make a tremendous difference in how you present yourself.
Try out the outfit in different poses, rather than just checking it in the mirror. Does the skirt ride too high, or does the shirt bunch weirdly when you sit down? Is there a side seam under your arm that will drive you crazy because of how itchy it is? Is the collar strangely tight, or do the pants bulge oddly? You don’t want to find yourself adjusting and tugging and distracted by your outfit.
Pro tip: Wearing your pajama pants with a business top for a video interview creates a funny meme but shouldn’t be your reality. You never know what unexpected event will bring you into focus, and you want to be put together from head to toe.
Forgo the Perfume and Cologne
You may want to stand out with your scent, but the interviewer may be overwhelmed by it. You never know who might have an allergy or aversion. Opt for unscented hygiene products. It won’t distract you during the interview, and it will keep your interviewer from being distracted too!
The same guidelines you use for your outfit apply to your makeup. Wear muted colors, rather than bright accents. Be mindful of how you’re creating and presenting your personal brand through all of your interactions.
Pro tip: This one’s critical—don’t forget the deodorant in your rush to get out the door. Interviews are stressful, so don’t let a lousy scent overwhelm you either.
Skip the Distracting Logos
Even if you’re applying for a role with a trendy company, you probably want to skip any logos or sayings on your shirts. It’s generally best to err on the side of classy casual rather than too casual for an interview. The same goes for bright, flashy colors that drown the situation. You can bring a pop of color in if the rest of your outfit balances with muted colors.
Pro tip: A blazer or cardigan often creates an instant upgrade to your outfit. Ensure that you’re layering appropriately with professional shirts underneath. A V-neck sweater, or a thin layer that doesn’t plunge, will work well in a casual business environment.
As with everything else, your accessories should play their part rather than trying to take center stage. If your scarf tangles on your earrings while you’re talking, that will probably be what the recruiter remembers rather than your fabulous answers.
You don’t need to wear any flashy jewelry or bring your entire handbag collection with you. Just choose one nicely sized bag that has multiple pockets so you can fit all of your materials in it. A conservative watch is always an excellent choice to subtly say that you prioritize timeliness.
Pro tip: If your interview is via Zoom, ensure that you aren’t wearing any jewelry that makes a distracting noise. Earrings that clack together or bracelets that jangle each time you move should be left behind.
Wear Nice Shoes
One of the worst wardrobe mistakes you can make is wearing uncomfortable or inappropriate shoes. Flip-flops are a no-go, regardless of the work environment’s heat and casualness. Instead, wear a classy sandal or closed-toe shoe that is a balance of dressy or casual.
Again though, ensure that you’re trying them on, and spend some time breaking them in if they’re new. Don’t invest in a new pair of shoes and let them sit in the closet until the big day. If they give you a blister, by the time you get to the interview, you’ll limp your way out of the room.
Pro tip: If the dress code is business casual, a pair of sneakers might be appropriate if paired correctly with other elements, such as a blazer or V-neck sweater. Stay away from running shoe styles, however. Think chic, trendy walking sneakers.
Classy and Pressed for the Win
Your outfit should always be neat and wrinkle-free. Clothing with stains will create a negative impression during an interview. The same goes for clothes that do not fit or are inappropriate for the season or environment where you’ll be working.
In addition to making sure your clothing fits correctly, consider any additional elements, such as layering and unique accessories like ties and vests, when deciding what to wear to your interview.
Ties with professional patterns, such as muted stripes and paisleys, are always terrific choices when business attire is appropriate.
Pro tip: Skip the silly ties with distracting prints. You want to share your funny personality, but an interview isn’t the place for clever and casual. Instead, aim for creative and memorable.
Leave the Trendy Shades and Earbuds at Home
There’s nothing wrong with expressing your style, but you also want to ensure that your interviewer can see your eyes. And pushing them onto your head will appear way too casual for any level of interview. The same goes for earbuds or oversized headphones. An interview is not the time or place for fashion statements. Instead, these accessories will draw attention away from you.
Pro tip: If you wear glasses with transition lenses, ensure that you leave enough time to allow them to fade back to normal after entering the building.
Dress for Success
Ultimately, you’re seeking an interview outfit that will help you stand out as a good candidate without screaming so loudly it drowns you out. You’re unique, and you want your outfit to express your personality appropriately to the situation.
If it’s a creative position, make sure your outfit isn’t too stuffy or corporate-looking. On the other hand, you don’t want to be the only person in the building not wearing a suit at a more formal location.
To further assist you, we’ve written an article about how to choose an outfit based on the level of casualness you’re seeking, with some excellent ideas to help you start putting your perfect interview outfit together.
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