The Anatomy of the Perfect Interview Outfit:
As much as we like to object to societal norms and protest that “looks don’t matter”, or “its what’s on the inside that counts”, it’s simply not true. In reality, your appearance makes a difference. It could be a deciding factor in whether you get that dream job, or it could help you make a friend that otherwise might not have spoken to you if you were wearing sweatpants instead of dress pants. My point is, instead of getting upset by the inevitable fact that people are going to judge you… Use it to your advantage. In this instance, we are going to talk about the anatomy of the perfect interview outfit. From your head to your feet, we are going to teach you how to dress for every interview occasion.
Men: Short and clean cut. Recently men with long hair and man buns has become a huge trend. But does it have a place in business? There are always exceptions to the rules, but a simple answer is no. Long hair, in the corporate world, will automatically earn you a negative connotation. But, if you’re applying somewhere a little more laid back, a man bun is your best option. Either way, brush your hair. You wouldn’t believe the number of men that forget to brush their hair.
Women: Women have more flexibility with their hair but they have the daunting task to choose from more styles, and colors. It is best to keep it professional and polished. Sleek options are the best, buns or ponytails it doesn’t really matter as long as you control your flyaways and keep it out of your face. Consider using a flat iron or curling iron to help. As long as it is clean and a natural color you are good to go. Avoid any headbands or distracting accessories.
Men: If you have facial hair keep it clean and go for a freshly cut look that shows you have your life together. Some businesses may be stricter on whether you can have facial hair at all, so be wary you may have to shave it off if you get the job. A hurdle you will have to jump over once you get the position.
Women: Ladies, your make up shouldn’t be loud or distracting. You want to make a good impression without going overboard. Concealer is your friend, use it to cover any redness and to avoid looking tired. Over-all stick with a neutral, polished look that will still make you feel like yourself. But save the fake lashes and bold lipstick for the holiday party.
Competition in the job seeking world is fierce. It is obvious that you want to ‘one-up’ your competitors in technical aspects, but nobody tells you that you also want to ‘one-up’ the company in terms of how you’re dressed. Picking your outfit really depends on the company you’re interviewing with so, the first step in this process is doing your research. Employers are looking for candidates that are not only qualified but that fit in. Glassdoor is a wonderful tool to study the culture of the company. Are they more laid back or are they super corporate and by the rules? You don’t want to go overboard, don’t show up to a ‘jeans and t-shirt’ kind of atmosphere in a three-piece suit. — If they are a casual company, wear smart casual. If they are smart casual, wear business casual. If they are business casual wear business professional.
Men: Un-tucked polo and sweaters. Kakhi pants, chinos and jeans are all good pant options. Always avoid sneakers, bleached or ripped jeans and t-shirts. Look like you’re trying and not like you’re on your way to the movies.
Women: Women have a lot of freedom with a smart casual dress code. Jeans are fair game but should be the least casual option dressed up with a dressy blouse or you could dress down a pencil skirt with a jean shirt. Shoe options include sandals or flats. Avoid flip flops.
Men: Time for dress pants and button-down shirt and dress shoes. Feel free to play with the patterns and colors.
Women: Dressy bottoms i.e skirts or dress pants and a collared button down is the norm. For your feet, stick with ballet flats or heels but be sure they are close-toed. While the cuts of your clothes should be more conservative you can play with patterns and colors.
Men: Solid blue or black suit. The suit should hug your shoulders, but you should still be able to close the top button. Your shirt should be a solid white or blue dress shirt.
Women: Avoid tight-fitting clothes and short sleeves. Dresses should reach your knees or hit right above. Your colors, neckline and shoes should all be conservative.
Now that you’ve got your outfit in the metaphorical bag… we need to talk about what goes in your literal bag. This bag doesn’t have to be a bag. It can be a briefcase, purse, binder, portfolio. Whatever it is, be sure it can hold the following. MANY copies of your resume and references, pens, notepad/paper and your business cards.
Also part of your outfit should be a winning smile and a firm handshake.