Dressing for your Interview
When you are getting ready for your college interview, or professional event, the thing in the forefront of your mind should be to make a good impression. While clothes do not make the man/woman, a picture is worth a thousand words. What you wear to your interview can communicate a great deal about you. Clothing should always be occasion appropriate, but you should also feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. Here are some easy tips and guidelines to follow when you’re deciding what to wear to your interview.
1) Have a pair of slacks
For both men and women, a pair of slacks is an essential part of your wardrobe. They are the perfect staple of your interview wardrobe! Make sure your slacks are well fitted, and are hemmed to the appropriate length (aka not dragging on the floor). As for color, neutral tones, like black, blue or khaki are best. For ladies, a black a-line skirt (or pencil skirt) is another great interview staple and can be substituted for slacks.
2) Have appropriate and sensible footwear
For an interview, a simple black or even a colored shoe is fine (especially for those what want to have a bit of flair in their footwear). For ladies, the heel should not be more than two inches, and if you do choose to wear flats, make sure you wear slacks that are not dragging on the floor. This also goes back to the comfort and confidence issue; if you aren’t comfortable wearing heals, don’t wear them. For men, traditional loafers or a leather tie shoe is recommended, but keep in mind the interview situation. Your choice, for both men and women, should reflect both the degree of formality of the interview and your personal style.
3) Wear a practical shirt or blouse
Picking out the right top is important. If you’re unsure about the dress code, or even the personality of the interviewer, leaning to the conservative side is usually a safer bet. For men, avoid loud prints in shirts and ties. For women, make sure the blouse is fitted without being tight. Understanding how clothes fit your body is very important. It may be expensive to purchase a well-fitting top or bottom, but in the long run this is an article of clothing that will serve you in many different situations. Also, your choice of top is seasonally dependent; wearing a sweater or heavier blouse is sometimes best in the late fall and early winter.
4) Blazers are key
A jacket or blazer is an excellent way to help polish off your look, however they are not required for your interview. It’s better to have one with you and leave it in the car, then find that you need one and not have it. For ladies, having a staple black blazer, like your black slacks, will be a versatile piece in your wardrobe. For men, a blazer or sport coat in blue or gray is much more versatile and less formal. For everyone, making sure the jacket fits well is very important. You don’t want pulling across the front or too much fabric in the back. Jackets and blazers can be a bit pricey, but like your slacks, are a good investment and will be an essential wardrobe item for years to come.
5) The finishing touches are important too
Accessories are an important part of your wardrobe as well. They help to finish your look while allowing you to show some of your personal style. For women, your jewelry adds to your look, but simple is best. You can use these to show your style, spirit for the school, or stay with sentimental pieces that provide encouragement. For men, a tie is a great way to express your style and personality. Men, remember a belt! Most slacks designed for men have beltloops, and even if the pants fit properly, they are still designed to be worn with a belt.
This should go without saying, but making sure that you are showered (and shaved for men) is also important. Don’t undo all the work you have done putting your outfit together by ignoring personal hygiene. PRO TIP: Keep a pack of breath mints in your car and use one just before going into the interview.
We have covered the things you should do, and while most of these go without saying, here are a list of things to avoid when selecting your interview outfit.
- Items with holes
- Overly rumpled clothing
- Anything with stains or spots
- Missing buttons
- Visible underwear
- Yoga or gym clothes
- Sport uniforms or jerseys
- Suggestively short or low-cut clothing
- T-shirts, especially those with phrases or cartoons
- Sneakers and flip-flops
Knowing your audience is as important in dress as in choosing your words. You want to use both to create an open reception to who you are. Your interview outfit is your first chance to make a good impression. Don’t waste it.