Monday, July 1, 2013

A Picture Guide: How To Dress For The Interview

There is something to be said for first impressions. Appearance is the first thing you communicate to others. Before you have a chance to speak, others notice how you dress and draw conclusions about you accordingly. Appropriate dress is one of the most important factors in your job search. Your dress creates an impression that can complement your credentials and give you an extra edge over a field of other qualified competent individuals.

There are standards of professional dress in all career fields. Some industries are more traditional, such as banking, consulting and business. Let the dress standards in the field(s) in which you are interviewing be a guide to what you wear for your interview. Attire in fields such as advertising, the arts, fashion, communications and entertainment is generally less conservative, so the rules are a bit more relaxed. Their dress code may be one of Business Casual Dress.

Business Dress for Interviews/Job Fairs:

Men's Interview Attire: 

Suit. Black for men was once considered severe or overly formal, and may still be considered so in very conservative industries, although it is commonly worn by many. Other color trends may come and go; avoid the extremes. Choose a solid such as dark blue, or very subtle weave pattern or plaidthe kind that look solid from across a room. Wool, wool blends, or very high quality blends with natural fiber, are the only acceptable fabrics for a conservative men's suit.

Long sleeve shirt. Choose white or light blue solid, or conservative stripes or coordinated with the suit.

Belt. Black or cordovan leather, to match your shoes.

Tie. Tie styles come and go. Select good quality silk ties. Avoid fashion extremes, like character ties, in interviews. Notice what men in your industry wear on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, when they meet with clients.

Dark socks, conservative leather shoes. Dark socks, mid-calf length so no skin is visible when you sit down.

Jewelry. Wear a conservative watch. If you choose to wear other jewelry, be conservative. Removing earrings is safest. For conservative industries, don't wear earrings. Observe other men in your industry to see what is acceptable.

Neat, professional hairstyle.

Facial hair. If worn, should be well-groomed. Observe men in your industry if you are unsure what's appropriate or are considering changing your look Limit the aftershave.

Details. Everything should be clean and well pressed. Suits typically have tacking stitches to hold vents—on the jacket back and on sleeves — in place before the garment is purchased. Cut them off if your retailer/tailor doesn't. And that tag stitched on the outside of your sleeve is not meant to stay there like a Tommy Hilfiger label—cut it off! Carefully inspect clothes dangling threads, etc. Lastly use a portfolio or briefcase.

Women's Interview Attire:

Suit. (Navy, black or dark grey)Wear a two-piece matched suit. Tailored pants suits are appropriate for women. Pants suits can be an excellent choice for site visits, particularly if the visit involves getting in and out of vehicles and/or the site is (or includes) a manufacturing plant or industrial facility. If you wear pants, they should be creased and tailored, not tight or flowing. If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, etc.

Skirt lengths. Much of what you see on television shows that masquerades for professional attire is actually inappropriate for a work environment. Your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated. Showing a lot of thigh makes you look naive at best, foolish at worst. A skirt that ends at the knee when you're standing looks chic and professional. Longer skirts are professional too; just make sure they are narrow enough not to be billowing, but not so narrow that you can't climb stairs comfortably. Don't purchase a skirt or decide on a hem length until you sit in the skirt facing a mirror. That's what your interviewer will see. Ask yourself whether it will be distracting or reinforce your image as a person who looks appropriate for a business environment or gathering. High slits in skirts are not appropriate. A small back, center slit in a knee-length skirt is appropriate. On a calf length skirt, a slit to the knee to facilitate walking and stair climbing is appropriate. The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably

Coordinated blouse. Underneath the suit jacket, wear a tailored blouse in a color or small print that coordinates nicely with your suit. A fine gauge, good quality knit shell is also appropriate underneath your suit jacket. Don't show cleavage.

Conservative shoes. Should be leather or fabric/micro fiber. Shoe styles and heel heights come and go. Choose closed-toe pumps. Regardless of what is in style, avoid extremes; no stilettos or chunky platforms. Make certain you can walk comfortably in your shoes; hobbling in uncomfortable shoes does not convey a professional appearance.

Limited jewelry/accessories. (no dangling earrings, or arms full of bracelets.) No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry. Wear a conservative watch. Jewelry and scarf styles come and go. Keep your choices simple and leaning toward conservative. Avoid extremes of style and color

Neutral pantyhose. Should be plainly styled (no patterns), sheer (not opaque), and in neutral colors complementing your suit. Avoid high contrast between your suit and hosiery color.

Always remember to use a professional hairstyle; the more simple, the better. 

Cosmetics. Light on the perfume. Keep makeup conservative. A little is usually better than none for a polished look. Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid extremes of nail length and polish color, especially in conservative industries.

Portfolio or briefcase, Pad folios. Preferred over a bulky briefcase. A small briefcase is also appropriate. But if you have no reason to carry a briefcase, don't; you risk looking silly.

Purse/bag. If you carry a purse, keep it small and simple, especially if you also carry a briefcase. Purse color should coordinate with your shoes. You may choose to carry a small briefcase or business-like tote bag in place of a purse. Leather is the best choice for briefcases; micro fiber or fine woven's are also acceptable.

In conclusion, a suit for both women and men is almost always appropriate for all types of interviews. Buy the best quality business suit you can afford. Make sure it fits well, is comfortable, and is pressed before you wear it.

For some interview tips refer to my post: Do Your Research Before A Job Interview. For more clarification, a Google search will give you both picture examples and tutorials. Good luck interviewing!

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