Apparently what you wear—and your overall interview appearance—really matters. It’s important to plan ahead for your interview, and that includes thinking about your interview appearance from head to toe. No one wants to wake up the morning of an interview, hitting snooze too many times to the point of having to skip a shower, yanking the first presentable outfit out of the closet, dreading the interview the entire time. That’s really setting yourself up for interview failure.
Set yourself up for interview success instead by watching this video featuring College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace. You’ll learn seven simple ways to enhance your interview appearance.
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1.. Research the position, the company, and the career field.
Expectations for interview appearance and attire vary based on these criteria. If you’re interviewing in a super casual work environment, you can get away with wearing business casual attire (slacks, blouse, and flats). However, if you’re interviewing at a large corporation for a management position, you better don a business suit. Doing your homework and understanding the corporate culture in advance will help you avoid major interview appearance mistakes. If your homework doesn’t help you make a clear decision, stop by the career services office on campus and ask for advice.
2. If in doubt, err on the side of conservative and classy. Translation: wear a suit.
If you aren’t sure what to wear, and your research yields few clear results, wear a suit. It’s better to dress up than to dress down for a job interview. Your future employer will most likely be impressed that you took time and energy to invest in your interview appearance.
If you wear a business suit, be sure it’s clean, pressed, and tailored. If you can’t afford to have it dry cleaned, clean it yourself on the gentle cycle and iron it carefully on the lowest setting. Have it tailored to fit you (or hem it yourself if necessary), but do not wear a suit with cuffs that are too long and too-long hemlines. This makes you look like you’re wearing your grandma’s suit, and that’s not a cute look for anyone.
3. Don’t blow your budget on interview attire.
As a college student or recent grad, you simply can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive suit or interview outfit. Be savvy and scour consignment stores for great deals on secondhand suits in excellent shape. Try to find suits that are still considered modern or fashionable, though, if possible. You don’t want to sport a look that was popular three decades ago.
4. Clean up.
Don’t sleep late the morning of an interview. Take a shower and practice good hygiene in every way. Clean hair, nails, and teeth let your interviewers know that you take pride in your interview appearance as well as minor details—and this lets them know you’ll take pride in the work you’ll do for them if hired. Skip heavy doses of cologne and perfume, and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke before a job interview.
5. Avoid excessive everything.
Flashy jewelry, sparkly eyeshadow, dangly earrings, bold neckties, colorful patterns, and fun socks are all great ways to demonstrate your personality in everyday life. Skip these over-the-top accessories when dressing for your interview, though. Neutral colors and subtle patterns (or solid colors) are better choices for suits and clothing items. When choosing jewelry, shoes, and accessories, think classic.
6. Put the focus on you, not your appearance.
By taking the previous tips into consideration, you’ll allow yourself the freedom to relax. This will help potential employers to focus on YOU, not your appearance. You won’t be fidgeting or fighting your own outfit. Instead, your future boss will notice your soft skills, your ability to work the room, your great laugh, and your attention to details when answering questions and responding to others.
You never want recruiters to remember the way you fixed your hair the day of an interview. You always want them to remember the reasons you listed for why they should hire you.
7. Remember that if you’re not comfortable and confident, you can’t focus on the content of your conversation with your future employer.
Lastly, choose clothing and accessories you feel completely comfortable and confident wearing. If you feel constrained or awkward, it will show in your facial expressions and body language, and that won’t win you any brownie points. You want to appear alert, focused, and grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed. If you’re thinking about how tight your jacket is, whether your pants are going to rip when you stand up or sit down, or how large the blister is on your right foot while you’re touring the job facility, you will certainly not have a Zen quality about you.
Write a great resume, apply for jobs, and prepare well for interviews. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for regular job search assistance and for more Tuesday Tip videos and articles like this.