You get the call or email you’ve been waiting for. You finally have the chance to interview for that job you’ve been aspiring to. You prepare diligently, developing the answers to the questions that you anticipate they’ll ask. You pour over your resume, getting ready to discuss its finer points. You amass your references. You practice. You practice some more, and when the day arrives, you’re confident that you’re ready to impress the HR rep and hiring manager. Sounds like a recipe for success, right?
Studies show that the most important part of your interview isn’t what goes on once the questions begin. It’s the precious first 10 seconds when you walk through the door that really make the difference. First impressions really are key to getting that job, and the way that you’re dressed will be one of the biggest influences on the way you’re perceived. Following these simple dos and don’ts will help you have the best chance of wowing your interviewers.
Do choose traditional styles. Even though many workplaces have shifted to more business casual dress, it’s always best to go for a traditional look for your interview. For men, that means a suit and tie. For women, options include a pantsuit or a skirt suit.
Don’t choose clothing that you don’t feel comfortable in. If your clothing is ill fitting or a style that makes you feel self-conscious, you may come off as under-confident or fidgety. Make sure that whatever you wear fits properly and is something that you can wear without feeling the need to adjust frequently.
Do choose colors that make you feel confident. While it’s best to avoid flashy, outlandish patterns, there is no longer a set rule for color when it comes to interview dressing. If you feel best in black, by all means, choose a black suit for the occasion, but don’t feel obligated to opt for black, navy, gray or brown. Choosing a color that is flattering and that you feel good in will help you be at your best.
Don’t worry about brand and cost. You don’t have to invest in a designer or couture ensemble to get the job you want. Unless you’re applying for a job in fashion, your interviewer is going to be more concerned with the image you’re projecting rather than what brands you’re wearing. In fact, wearing something with an obvious logo could actually be a turn-off.
Do dress the part. When you’re putting together an outfit, think about what you’ll be expected to wear in the workplace if you succeed in landing the job. Consider the culture of the company as you select your apparel. Check out their website and check out Google Images for photographs that indicate how top employees dress. Are employees in the position you’re looking for dressing a little trendier, or is the work environment more conservative?
Don’t neglect your shoes. You may think that the interviewer isn’t going to give you a complete once over when you arrive, but you’d be surprised just how much people notice. Make sure that your shoes are clean and free of visible signs of wear and tear. Giving them a good shine will help you look polished.
Do stay modest. If it’s summertime, avoid the temptation of showing skin during your interview. Men and women should have no more than one button undone on their shirts and avoid anything sleeveless. Women should also be conscious about tight-fitting clothing and overly short hemlines.
Don’t skip the iron. You never want to show up to an interview looking wrinkled, so make sure you iron or steam your clothing before you dress. Stay away from linen clothing and other fabrics that can wrinkle while you’re wearing them.
Do cover your tattoos and remove body and facial jewelry. Many workplaces are becoming tattoo friendly, but it’s a good idea to keep any body art hidden from sight during an interview. Similarly, you should remove any facial or body piercings that can’t be hidden. Women can wear a simple pair of earrings, but men with pierced ears are best to leave their ears bare for the interview.
Don’t over accessorize. Smart accessories can add to an outfit, but you don’t want to overdo it. For men, a wristwatch and an attractive belt and a class ring or wedding ring should be it for accessories. Women can wear small earrings, a simple bracelet or wristwatch and one ring. A dressy scarf or a small, elegant brooch on a jacket can also be tasteful additions to an interview ensemble.
Do carry a leather portfolio. Taking notes during an interview can make a good impression and show that you’ve come prepared. Invest in a simple leather portfolio for carrying your notebook and pen.
Don’t forget to dress to impress for video conferencing! Even if you’re going to interview via Skype or FaceTime, you should still be dressed for success. It may be harder to see the details of your ensemble, but you still want to follow the rules for dressing well.
Do try it on the day before. You don’t want to end up stressed on the day of your interview, frantically trying on outfits to find the perfect thing. Plan ahead and put on your outfit the day before. Look at yourself in a full-length mirror and snap a couple of selfies, so you can see how you’ll look to the interviewers.