Fashion & Style

How to dress for an interview

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Interview clothing
Choose the appropriate outfit for your job interview
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Dress for success with the proper attire for your interview

In this economy, jobs are harder to come by than ever and the competition is fierce as more and more out of work professionals are seeking fewer and fewer available jobs.  This means that in an interview, you have to shine.  You have to stand out among the crowd; to do that you have to know how to dress for an interview.

First Impressions

Whether people are applying to be vice presidents of a corporation or entry level office clerks, they're going to make a better impression arriving in pants suits than a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Your wardrobe choice says a lot about you; more so than many people realize.  A huge part of a prospective employer's first impression of you is your clothing.  It instantly tells the employer something about you, and you want that to be the right something.

There are many places out there to find stylish women's clothing at affordable prices these days, and with men if anything it's even easier.  We're talking about your future here.  It's worth investing in.  Go pick up a nice outfit for interviewing in.  If ever there was a worthy investment, this is it.  You only need one or two outfits.  Each place you interview with will be seeing you for the first time, so even if you feel repetitive wearing the exact same outfit on each job interview, they're only seeing it once.  The reason to consider a second outfit is for followup interviews with the same company.

Dress Up

Be sure to dress up, rather than down.  No matter what kind of job you're applying for, dress a bit nicer for the interview than you would on the job.  Even if the job you're applying for allows jeans, wear Dockers instead or a pair of casual slacks.  Leave the jeans at home for an interview unless you're applying for a very blue collar job.  Even an entry-level mail clerk should not be showing up to a job interview in jeans.

To carry this further, if you would normally wear a T-shirt to the job in question, wear a golf shirt, A.K.A. "Polo" to the interview.  If you'd normally wear a golf shirt, step up to a button up shirt.  A dress shirt job should have a tie added for the interview, etc.

No matter what the job is, always dress a bit nicer for the interview than you would for the job.

Don't Go Too Far

Taking that in the other direction, the phrase "a bit nicer" was used intentionally.  Don't overdo it!  If you are applying for a blue collar or an entry level position, don't show up for the interview in a three piece suit.

Also keep in mind, especially for ladies, that there are different kinds of "dressing up."  There's "work" nice and there's "party" nice, or "opera" nice.  Don't show up in a sparkling evening gown that would be appropriate for a state dinner or any kind of formal event.

Dress in sensible, business-like clothes.  In this day and age, a pants suit is more appropriate than a dress and says "I'm ready to work."  Even if a dress looks nice, it might give the impression of a person who is more interested in looking nice than being productive.  You want to give the impression of being a dedicated, serious employee who is there to help increase the bottom line.

Some women still feel that they should look sexy for a job interview.  Trying to look sexy is not only inappropriate for a job interview, but let's face it ladies... Is the kind of boss who would respond positively to that kind of dress the kind of boss you want to work for?

Keep it professional and keep it business like.  Sexiness has no place in the office and wearing anything suggestive in an interview will instantly send the wrong signals to your prospective employer.  It may even offend some, and could certainly have the effect of saying "she doesn't believe in her work skills so she's trying to get hired by being attractive instead."  If you want to be taken seriously, dressing in a business-like manner is the way to go.

The Total Package

This part is mostly for men, since women seem to get this more intuitively then men generally do.  There is more to dressing appropriately than wearing a nice suit.  You need to wear all accoutrements that match the outfit.  The proper belt; the proper shoes and please, PLEASE wear dark colored socks!

Even the watch matters.  I own several watches and I usually prefer the one with the black plastic band and digital face.  However, I would never wear that watch to an interview, or in any situation where I was "dressed up."  Wear a nice watch with an analog face (which is one with hour and minute hands).

Keep jewelry to an absolute minimum.  For men, a ring or two is fine.  There should be no necklaces at all showing.  For ladies a simple necklace is fine, but keep it subtle.  Again, not a half dozen rings.  Keep it simple.  Men should not wear any dangling or large earrings, either removing earrings altogether or keeping them as small studs.  Women should keep earrings simple and unobtrusive.

For men or women, leave the wedding rings on.  A white band around your finger where a wedding ring is supposed to be definitely sends the wrong message and smacks of dishonesty, an absolute no-no in any interview.

So to sum it all up, you want to look nice, but in a business-like way.  You want to dress better on an interview than you would on the job, and keep any kind of jewelry or other adornments at an absolute minimum.  Keep these tips in mind as you're seeking your next job, because knowing how to dress for an interview can be just as important as your other qualifications.

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