8 Tips for Dressing for a Job Interview

You have the experience, the perfectly polished resume, and a long list of references who are happy to sing your praises. How can you make sure that your wardrobe matches your professionalism when it’s time for the big interview? We have tips to help you dress for job interviews that will help you stand out from the pack.

8 Tips for Dressing  for a Job Interview

1. Keep it Classic With The Clothing….

Shopping for a suit can be overwhelming, but interviewing for job (especially if it is your first interview) isn’t the time to show that fuchsia is your best color. Your best bet is to opt for a classic, solid colored, skirt and/or pants suit in a neutral color like black, grey, or navy blue. Be sure to stay away from suits that are too short (more than a thumbs length above the knee), too tight (you can see your pantyline), or too revealing in general (cleavage isn’t a good thing in this case).

Once you get there, if you find the environment is bit more casual, it’s okay to remove your blazer for the interview. Also, if you’re interviewing for a more creative position, at an advertising agency or web company, you could get away with a simple dress (again choose a dark color like black or blue), but pair it with an interesting handbag, bracelet, or necklace. We still suggest to keep the shoes simple and basic (but still stylish)

2. ….But Do Accent With Colorful Accessories

 

While you should go neutral and basic on the suit (no, seriously), do add a bit of personality to your office through accessories. Try accenting your suit with a playful, bright Colorful Scarfscarf. You can drape any scarf around your shoulders and tuck it into your jacket for a pop of color. Or, you can simply tie it in a knot around your handbag. In terms of earrings and necklace, keep them simple. Unless you’re interviewing in a creative field, leave the dangly earrings and statement necklaces at home. If you have a ring with a rock the size of plymouth on your hand, you might want to think about leaving that at home (the perception might be if she has a rock that big, she doesn’t need the job).

3. Rock The Bag, Not The Labels

Target Tote

We all love our designer bags, but those fabulous letters all over your purse could send the message, “I don’t actually need this job to pay the bills.” Instead, select a simple purse that can double as a small briefcase. That way, you can safely store extra copies of your resume or presentation without worrying about them being bent or ruined in transit. Also keep your electronic devices to minimum (unless you’re interviewing for a tech-related job).

4. Keep the Shoes VERRRRRRRRRRY Basic

Basic Shoes

Yes, we know that you’ve been wearing stilettos since Carrie put Mr. Big’s second wife in the hospital, but when interviewing for a job keep them at home. Instead, wear a pair of 2-3 in “sensible” black closed toe pumps. Why closed toe? Well, several industries (like Banking) really look down at open toed pumps.

5. Bring a nice pen and a nice notebook

Interview Notebook

Cathy Black, former CEO of Hearst Publications once said that she was always surprised by the number of job candidates she interviewed who don’t carry pens. Invest in a nice pen (by invest we mean like $10-$20) and carry it with you to all job interviews. Also purchase a nice notebook (scoop one up at Target, Staples, or OfficeMax) with a basic leather, faux leather or cloth covering. Use it, along with the pen, to take notes during the interview.

6. Keep the Nails, Make up, Hair, Basic too.

Yes, we sound like a broken record, but seriously, keep it simple. Your nails should be manicured, but use a neutral color. Your make-up should be tasteful, but leave the heavy eyeliner and eye shadow at home. Your hair should be well groom, but keep the color basic. For Black women, natural hair, locks and braids are totally ok (do you really want to work at a place where it isn’t? We didn’t think so), but just keep it simple for the interview, so the interview doesn’t become an interview about your hair style.

7.  No Perfume…Please
We know you like to rock your signature scent, but your interviewer might be allergic, so don’t wear a scent to your interview.

8. A Dose of Confidence

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget that confidence is your best accessory! By following these simple rules, you can ensure that you’ll appear intelligent, classy, and professional on the day of your interview. Better yet, you’ll look so organized and polished, your interviewer will know you’re prepared to start your new position at a moment’s notice.

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Comments

  1. says

    Shoes are so important. I remember interviewing young women when I used to hire staff for a clothing store and so many times they would show up looking professionally dressed except they would be wearing flip flops. Flip flops are for the beach or doing a quick errand whether have been bedazzled or not. Definitely wear proper shoes to an interview because you are being scrutinized from head to toe.

  2. says

    The general advice of “neat, clean, simple, and polished” given above is great, but the specific details are not good for every interview. There is such a thing as being overdressed for an interview, and it says to interviewers that you may not fit in. Before going on an interview, always do your homework on the company (this is crucial in general for the interview) and make sure you take notice of the corporate culture and how other employees dress. Then, take a cue from that and just take it up a notch. Yes, it’s better to be slightly overdressed, but in some industries, a classic conservative look can make you appear too stuffy.

    • TBF says

      hey Meira- The only issue with your advice is that while others at the company may dress more casual, you are still trying to get the job, you It is always better to be on the safe side.

      • M.H. says

        Meira and TBF – I agree with what you both say. I’d love to add a comment that the workplace is becoming so much more causal that I think some companies are turned off by traditional work attire. One should just use their discretion when creating an ensemble for an interview. Investment bank – black suit with jacket and your resume in a leather covered case, NGO – some Birkenstocks and free-trade pull over you got on your gap year in Burma.

  3. Sophia says

    Thank you for the advice. I am just 13 though, and wondering if there are any changes to these helpful hints if you are being interviewed for a summer job as a teenager.

    • TBF says

      Hey Sophia- As a teen, it really depends on where your being interviewed. If it’s at a local mall or retail job, you may just want to wear a nice pair of pants (khakis- not jeans) or skirt that hits you at your knees (nothing shorter) and a nice top (not tank top). AVOID FLIP-FLOPS and SNEAKERS… If it is for a business environment, like an internship in an office, definitely wear a suit but you could do a gray, brown, etc. The rule of thumb is if you would wear it to a friend’s party, then it’s probably not a good idea to wear it to a job interview.

  4. says

    I also like your point about bringing a pen and notebook. At the very least it sends a message that you care enough about this job to take notes about important points the hiring manager is making.

  5. says

    TBF… I agree that for the interview you need to play it safe and not go casual, but depending on the corporate culture, a classic blazer and matching skirt with a classic white shirt may make you seem too formal to fit in. Some industries expect a more casual but polished look, and other may expect a more creative look. I’m just saying that for the interview, there isn’t a “fail-safe, no-brainer” look that will work everywhere.

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