Dress for Success
As superficial as it sounds, employers will judge you on the way you are dressed. This does not mean that if you wear anything less than Prada the job will go to someone else. It simply means that the interviewer looks at your exterior as a representation of your interior. If it is obvious that you took the time to choose the right clothes for this interview, it is likely that you will put the same amount of thought into your work. Arriving for an interview too casually dressed tells the interviewer that you don't care enough about the job or the company to put your best self forward. Dress up a little bit more for your interview than you would if you were actually going to work at the company. The rules of dress laid out below for both men and women are very specific and should be strictly followed. Though the lines between what men and women can and do wear to work on a regular basis are becoming more and more blurred—khakis and a button-down shirt can work well on either of the sexes—there are two definite sets of rules during the job interview process.
If you are a man interviewing for a professional position, you should always wear a suit. A shirt and tie might be sufficient to make you the best-dressed guy at your current job, but it won't cut it in an interview. More conservative colors—black, navy blue, or charcoal gray—are the best colors to choose. Bright and flashy colors will only serve to distract the interviewer from what you are saying.
For men, the tie has become one of the few creative outlets when it comes to dressing professionally. A bad choice in the neckwear department can spell almost certain doom. A solid dark color with tiny geometric patterns is the safest bet.
You can change the look of a conservative colored suit dramatically by changing the tie, the shirt, or both. If you only have one suit, these changes can help you out tremendously when you're interviewing with companies that require two or more meetings on separate occasions. Avoid shiny shirts; they are a major no-no and should be reserved for the nightclub scene. Socks should blend in well with the shoes and pants.
The rules of proper workplace attire for women have been changing over the past several decades. The power suit that once ruled the scene has been replaced with the traditional pantsuit that doesn't differ much from the men's version. Pants for women have now become widely accepted and may be particularly appropriate in settings where you may be doing a lot of walking or getting in and out of cars. If wearing a skirt, the length of the skirt, obviously, should be tasteful and professional. Knee length is always appropriate. Again, regardless of the company's particular dress code, women, too, are expected to wear a suit to the interview.
One detail not to overlook: your shoes. Interviewers often gauge a candidate by his shoes—are they worn, polished, fashionable? While it is something a candidate might neglect, it's a very telling detail for the interviewer and one that might cost the candidate a job.
Colors should be conservative. A black or navy blue skirt/pants and jacket is the best choice. Avoid colors like pink and powder blue—they won't help you assert your professionalism. Don't wear anything that dangles. That goes for earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Avoid clothes that are too tight; you'll be less comfortable and you won't be taken as seriously.
Personal grooming is another matter each candidate must attend to before heading out the door to an interview. Careful grooming indicates both thoroughness and self-confidence. Women should not wear excessive makeup or jewelry. If you have painted nails, make sure they are of a conservative color.
Men should be sure to check that any facial hair is neat and trim. If you have a beard or a mustache, make sure it is well groomed. Otherwise, men should make sure that they are clean-shaven when they arrive for an interview. If your five o'clock shadow comes at three o'clock and your interview is at four, make sure you have time to run home quickly and shave.
There are advantages to scheduling a few interviews in one day. For one, you'll already be decked out in your interviewing gear, and your briefcase or bag will be stocked with the essential spare resume, work samples, and reference sheets. Some people find they get into a mental zone after one interview that lets them gear up for additional interviews.
All candidates should wear very little—if any—perfume or cologne. Cigarette-scented clothing may also offend an interviewer with a sensitive nose. Remove any nose rings, cover your tattoos with long sleeves, and tuck your water bottle in your briefcase, not a knapsack.