One of the most common mistakes in an interview seems to be dressing for the interview. I always suggest showing up overdressed – this may not be appropriate for every job applicant; for a waitress position, I wore nice pants, a trendier shirt and comfortable shoes in case I was asked to shadow or start immediately, and in some industries, you can gauge how to dress by what the employees wear. For example, some hair salons dress in all black, so you could wear all black and fit right in!
This post will be geared towards women for the most part – we’ll do a men’s version, too!
Here are a few tips in case you need some guidance on how to choose your outfit!
- Consider the industry and build an outfit around that. If you’re an artist, consider something trendy and fun, but still professional. Rock your colored streak of hair, but keep your make-up simple. If you’re applying for an entry-level marketing position, try a patterned blazer with more paired-down pieces.
- Show your style while remaining approachable. If you have tattoos that are visible, make sure to check the company’s stance on tattoos. Many employers no longer have issues with tattoos as long as they are “appropriate” – this can mean a few things. It never hurts to cover up a bit for the first interview and then gauge how others are dressing. You can tell a lot by a tour of the offices if you’re able to walk around, so I use that as a benchmark. You don’t have to be someone else… be yourself, and be approachable. (Unless you’re working in an industry where you’re completely on your own – that might give you more leeway!)
- Keep the loud jewelry to a minimum. In an interview, it can be distracting to have big bangles that clank together – especially if you talk with your hands! You can always add your style in after the big day! I suggest one statement piece – a fun necklace, great earrings, to keep it simple and still fun. It’s important to err on the side of caution!
- Choose a great pattern or statement piece and build around that. I love great tops, and then I’ll tone them down with a pair of grey or navy pants that are flattering to my shape. Fun shoes, a printed skirt and a bright shirt – these are great, but I’d pick just one for the first impression! After you’re comfortable, then combine them all! Again, this is industry-related – if you’re in fashion, rock your best look! If you’re at a retail store, try to show them how well you can mix-prints, or show off solids with your own awesome flair.
- Dress for the job you WANT. I’ve heard this time and time again but it’s so true! It never hurts to be a little overdressed. You’ll feel like a rock star if you’re wearing something you love. If you hate dress pants and blazers, find a great dress that shows off your figure without looking like you’re headed to a club. Add a nice, light jacket and a comfortable but classy pair of flats. If you despise dresses, look for a flattering top and top it with a trendy cardigan and some neutral dress pants.
Bonus tip: Nice clothes aren’t always the most expensive! Be creative and look for great quality pieces at a bargain. Have a clothes swap with friends (this is a great way to also score new accessories!), look at places like Amazon (for their fashion section), Old Navy (the BEST place for basics, in my opinion…), or my other favorite go-to stores like Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, etc!
All in all – be creative and do your research. Don’t try to hide who you are – aim for the best version of yourself. I always suggest pairing fun pieces with basics because then I’m showing my personality but I’m still ready in case clients come in, or if I see an old co-worker. Dress to impress and you’ll find success.
Need help picking an outfit? Ask friends! My mom is my soundboard, everyone needs a friend who will be honest and help them find that perfect first-day outfit!
- Mainspring Communications