What to Wear to the Interview
Most people are troubled by the thought of what to wear for a job interview. They wonder if they should wear casual clothes or formal attire. They question whether to choose bright colors or neutral tones. Even among fashionistas, there is quite a bit of disagreement over what is appropriate to wear for a job interview.
Some experts feel that regardless of the culture of the company, a person should always wear a suit for an interview. Other experts feel that wearing a suit is not necessary in some situations; worse, it could even be inappropriate. Are you even more confused now? Don't be. Here are some pointers to help you decide on an outfit that will help you shine on a job interview.
When Should You Wear a Suit?
If you are interviewing for a job in a traditionally conservative field, such as accounting, finance, or law, the answer to the question “What should I wear?” is a simple one. Both men and women must wear suits. You should choose a conservative color such as black, gray, or navy blue.
Invest in at least two suits. If you buy two, you won't have to worry about what to wear when you get called back for a second interview. You will also be a step ahead when you get a job offer and those suits become a regular part of your wardrobe. Buy a conservative rather than a trendy suit and always buy the best quality you can afford. You can wear the same suit for several years if you stick to these rules.
If you want to get the best prices on business attire, remember that men's suits are often on sale during April and November. Men's shirts go on sale in January and July, and the best months to buy shoes are January, July, November, and December.
Underneath the suit, you should wear a solid, preferably white or light-colored, shirt or blouse. A man should wear a necktie. A woman can accessorize with a silk scarf if she wishes. Both ties and scarves should have simple designs and should not be brightly colored. Women's scarves should be of short or medium length since a long scarf could get in her way.
Is Casual Dress Ever Appropriate?
As you can see, your choices of what to wear are limited when you are interviewing in a conservative field. That is not necessarily a bad thing—at least it makes your decision easy. Just ask anyone who is interviewing for a job in a field where the mode of dress is not so clearly defined. The definition of proper interview attire in a casual office is something not all experts agree on, whether you ask those who work in fashion or those who work in career planning.
While some people feel that a formal suit is appropriate for all job interviews, others feel that what you wear on an interview should be similar to what you will wear on the job should you be hired. When you have a job interview, you want the interviewer to envision you as a member of his staff. The way you dress can help him do that.
If you can't find a company's dress code standards through traditional research, hanging out near the building's entrance at the beginning of a work day will allow you to see what people look like when they arrive for work. Avoid doing this on a Friday, as that is the day of the week many companies allow casual dress.
Of course, a job interview should be considered a special occasion and not just a typical day at the office. Therefore, your attire should be a notch or two above what you would wear to work. If, for example, typical dress in the workplace you're interested in joining is casual, you should opt for dress pants and a coordinating sport jacket for men, and dress pants, a skirt, or a dress and coordinated blazer for women.
A company's corporate culture usually dictates how employees dress. You can try to learn more about a prospective employer's corporate culture from the research you do in preparation for the job interview. Companies in more creative industries usually have less stringent dress codes.
If you have exhausted all ways of finding out how employees of the company dress, you might have to wear a suit. If given the choice between overdressing for a job interview and underdressing for one, you are better off being overdressed. In other words, it is more acceptable to be the only job candidate who shows up in a suit rather than the only one who does not.
The Finer Details
More important than what you wear to a job interview is how you wear it. Check your clothing to make sure it is stain-free. Also make sure it is unwrinkled. The last thing you want is to look like you rolled out of the hamper. It is worth bringing your suit to the dry cleaner to have it professionally cleaned and pressed.
Women should make sure their hosiery is free of runs and visible snags. Carry an extra pair in your purse just in case. Men should make sure their tie is straight. Invest in a tie tack to keep it in place.
Women should stay away from low-cut necklines or skirts with short hemlines. Revealing outfits may be fine for an evening out after work, but they are not appropriate for the office — any office.
Suits should fit properly. That means they should not be too tight or too baggy. If your outfit does not fit you well, a trip to the tailor is in order.
Hair, Makeup, and Nails
Your hair should be neat and clean. The style should be simple. Women's makeup should not be overdone. Lipstick and nail polish should be a neutral color. Women's nails should be short enough to keep the interviewer from wondering, “How will she get work done with those nails?” Men's nails should be short and clean. Men should be clean-shaven. If you have facial hair, it should be neatly trimmed.
Guidelines for Jewelry
Both men and women should keep jewelry to a bare minimum. That means large dangling earrings, big pendants, and thick chains are out. While body piercings and tattoos may be all the rage in your social circle, remember that some interviewers will be turned off by this. While you are allowed to have your own personal style, a job interview may not be the best place for you to express it. You certainly do not want anything to distract the interviewer from realizing you are the best candidate for the job.
Finally, it's time to think about your feet, or rather what you are going to put on them. Your shoes are the last thing you will put on before you head off on an interview, but they should not be the last thing you should think about. On the contrary, you should give serious consideration to your footwear.
Shoes that are conservative in both style and color are the most appropriate to wear on a job interview. Neither men nor women should wear sandals or open-toed shoes of any kind. Black shoes go with everything, even with navy blue, according to fashion experts.
One of the first things some job interviewers notice is the condition of a candidate's shoes. Scuffed, dirty shoes may indicate that the person doesn't pay attention to detail. You can purchase shoe polish and other shoe care supplies at your local drug store.
Shoes must be in good condition. They do not have to be brand-new, but they should not look like you have hiked miles in them, either. They shouldn't have scuffs on them. If they do, go ahead and polish them.
If you do buy new shoes for interviewing, make sure they are comfortable. It is hard to concentrate on the task at hand when your toes are being pinched. Excessively high heels are out of place on a job interview and in the workplace.