After putting in job application after job application, you get the call about scheduling a job interview. While it’s exciting that you’ve reached the next step towards securing a job, you shouldn’t break out the champagne to celebrate just yet. Meeting with potential employers is an important part of the job search process, and making the right first impression can determine the difference between securing a rewarding career and continuing your job search.
Did you know that you only have an average of seven seconds to secure a positive first impression on a potential employer? That’s because most people make a judgment about someone immediately upon meeting them, which means having the right appearance for a job interview is key to your success. You should know how to present yourself in a meeting and what attire to avoid so that you leave a lasting, positive impression. Here are some do’s and don’ts about what to wear to a job interview.
Do: Add Personality
Just because you’re in a job interview, that doesn’t mean you have to mask who you are as a person completely. In fact, if you come off as too muted or drab, you may blend in too much and risk not standing out as a viable candidate in your interview, especially if your potential employer is meeting with many candidates. This doesn’t mean you should come in wearing overly flashy clothing. Find balance in the minor details and let your personality show that way. Whether you opt to wear a colorful scarf or shoes or a nice bag, you should allow a little of your style to show through without dominating the room.
Along with adding a touch of personality to your interview attire, you should also strive to keep your jewelry minimal and classic. Leave the oversized hoop earrings and facial piercings at home. You can, however, pair a simple necklace or stunning watch with your wardrobe to add a touch of class and beauty that won’t overwhelm.
Do: Look Put Together
Nobody wants to interview someone who looks like a slob who just rolled out of bed. Save yourself some potential embarrassment and plan out your wardrobe in advance, so you look put-together and clean. Dressy slacks in gray, black, or navy paired with a closed-toe shoe and a crisp white button-down can give you a powerful, put-together look that is sure to impress at any interview.
While you’re working on ensuring your outfit looks put-together, go a step further and give your purse a quick reorganization, too. Bring a bag that will easily fit your resume and a notepad into it so you don’t look clumsy fumbling around with items because they couldn’t fit inside your purse. A classic tote is always a good choice if you’re not sure what to bring. Place a pen within easy reach in your bag in case you’re asked to take notes, so you don’t look foolish searching the endless bottom of your bag for something to write with.
Do: Dress Formally
This isn’t a night out with girlfriends; it’s a job interview. Which means you shouldn’t plan to wear anything that might pass as acceptable in a club. Take care to comb your hair back, so it’s out of your face—the last thing an interviewer wants to see is hair hanging in your eyes. It should also go without saying that you should shower before any interview, so you present your best self to your potential employer. If you’re unsure what passes for formal interview attire, err on the side of caution. If it’s not something you’d wear to meet the president of the United States, for example, it may not be best for a potential employer, either.
Don’t: Show Too Much Skin
Anything that requires frequent adjusting or makes you feel uncomfortable should never be worn in a job interview. Low-cut shirts and short skirts may be okay to wear on the weekends, but they have no place in a professional setting. Do yourself a favor and save yourself the embarrassment of wearing clothing that would make your mother blush to see you in.
Don’t: Cake on Makeup
When it comes to interviews, you should strive to make your makeup look as natural as possible. Wearing too much makeup can make you come off as trashy and unprofessional, not to mention it could melt or flake off if it gets too moist, which can happen if you get nervous and sweaty before interviews. Let your makeup enhance your natural beauty rather than mask who you truly are.
Don’t: Be Flashy
Bold colors or flashy animal prints can be fun to wear for a weekend on the town, but not when you’re sitting across the table from someone trying to talk about your job qualifications. Coming off as overly flashy will make you stand out, but not in a good way. You’ll come off as immature and unprofessional, instead of a qualified individual. Keep your loud fabrics in the closet, and if you must bring a pop of color into your interview, opt instead to channel it into a small accessory.
Along the same lines of avoiding being too flashy, you should also avoid wearing perfume that’s too overpowering. You don’t want to be known as the interviewee who doused herself in perfume, especially since not everybody enjoys the same scents. While one fragrance may be pleasant to you, a potential interviewer may find it insulting, which could possibly cost you a job opportunity.
Don’t: Wear Ripped or Wrinkled Clothing
Before you leave your house, you should be sure that your clothes are in good condition. That means checking your clothes for any signs of rips, holes, or tears and using the iron to get any wrinkles out. Not only will you look more put together in clothing that’s freshly pressed, but you’ll feel more confident as well.
Don’t: Wear Anything Controversial
Your political statement tees may be a great way to show off your personality in a fun, quirky way, but they have no place in the work environment. Don’t wear anything that may draw controversy or make a political statement during your interview. This includes furs as well. Your interviewer may not share the same beliefs as you, and even though you could be the most qualified person for the job wearing something that sends a message could cost you the opportunity.
Do: Wear a Suit That Fits
An ill-fitting suit can take a man from savvy to sloppy instantly. Don’t let a poor fit cost you a job. Take time to find a suit that fits you well, even if it means taking it to a tailor to have it professionally altered. While you’re at it, have your suit professionally cleaned, so it’s free of wrinkles or stains. Nobody will take you seriously if you show up in a wrinkled suit that’s too long or large for your body type.
When looking for the right suit, you can opt for a two or three button suit depending on your personal preference. You also don’t want anything that is too loud. A white suit may have been cool in the ‘80s, but it’s not going to look good for your interview. Opt for a dark color like black, blue, or gray, and stay away from anything too busy, such as pinstripes.
When looking for the right suit, don’t overspend. Suits can range in price from very reasonable to over-the-top. You don’t need to buy suits in the triple-digit range to make the right impression. The most important thing is that your outfit is clean and fits well. The last thing you want to do is drain the last few dollars in your bank account on a potential job that isn’t guaranteed yet. Save the expensive suit for after you land that amazing job.
Pair your suit with a simple white or blue dress shirt and a nice tie. Don’t go overboard trying to make a statement with your tie, however. Keep the pattern muted and conservative, so you don’t overwhelm your interviewers.
Do: Wear Good Shoes
Nice shoes can add a touch of polish to an interview outfit, which is why you shouldn’t overlook this vital accessory. Try a classic look like wing-tipped loafers, oxfords, or monk strap shoes, and before you put them on, give them a good polish to remove any scuff marks. You can add a touch of personality to your outfit by pairing your shoes with a colored pair of socks that will pop without being too flashy.
Do: Come Clean-Shaven
Do not come to an interview with a five o’clock shadow or a long, scraggly beard. You will look unkempt and unprofessional and won’t be taken seriously. While you’re at it, you may want to visit the barber before your interview to get your hair trimmed as well.
Don’t: Wear Flashy Accessories
Keep your jewelry and other accessories to a minimum. A classic-looking watch is always a nice statement piece, and of course, no reasonable employer would expect you to remove a wedding band if you have one before you interview.
Don’t: Wear Strong Cologne
You should avoid assaulting your potential employer’s nostrils with an overpowering cologne or aftershave. It can make you come off as sleazy or make the interviewer think you’re covering up a secondary smell, such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, or the fact that you don’t bathe regularly. Keep your scent subtle, and you’ll make a better impression.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or come up with flashy outfits to ace an interview. Use these tips, and you’ll look professional and prepared for your next interview.