It's the night before your formal interview, the one that you have been dying to land; you've known all along exactly what you are going to wear. You've played this scenario over and over in your head and have picked out every detail of your outfit from head-to-toe. You are going to look fabulous!
It all comes crashing down when you think you are on top of it by getting your outfit all laid out and trying it on just for good measure so, you know; you don't realize the DAY OF that it doesn't fit. But really, you should have prepped well in advance.
In general, today's workplace is more casual than the typical formal interview attire and it may have been a while since you have even worn those pieces. Regardless though if you were on the ball and purchased in advance a brand new outfit for the interview or you find yourself in that last minute scramble; here are some simple tips for helping you dress to feel your best during the interview. (So you can focus on other jitters, like when they ask you "Tell me about yourself." – Just kidding, we've got you covered with that too!)
Step 1: Do your homework.
When you get the call that a formal in-person interview is being extended, it is ok to ask about the culture and dress code of the workplace. This will help you determine what is appropriate and start you off right to figuring out if pieces you already have can be used or direct you in what you need to purchase. Every employer will be different in what they expect and they don't expect you to already know.
Step 2: Keep it simple.
Focus on staple pieces like solids and neutral colors; like black, white, gray, navy, or brown for majority of your outfit. This will help you repurpose those pieces in the future and keep the interviewers focus on you (and your rock star answers) during the interview and not your outfit. Dress slacks or chinos, a button up collared shirt, sweater, tie, suit jacket (if formal), and/or a skirt or dress are all typically appropriate; along with coordinating dress shoes that are comfortable and easy to walk in. (Incorporating one statement piece to the outfit such as a tie, necklace or earrings, or a patterned shirt under a solid jacket or sweater can be a nice touch; but you want to be sure those standout pieces are limited.)
Step 3: Show up polished and pressed.
Make sure that your outfit is clean; free of stains, wrinkles, and is not ripped or tattered. Style your hair in such a way that it will be out of your face and distraction free. Proper hygiene is a must and again will help ensure you feel confident in your outfit. You don't want to be blindsided by that morning's breakfast making a guest appearance in the interview room.
Step 4: Let your skills stand out – not your scent.
Moderate use of cologne or perfume is ok, but don't let the scent of that takeover and cloud the interview because it filled up the room more so than all of the great conversation around the reasons you are qualified to do that job.
Step 5: Put it all together.
Give it all a test run. Don't end up in a scenario like how this story kicked off. Coordinate your outfit and try it on (shoes, accessories, even hairstyles included) so that you are prepared for any malfunctions.
When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to always err on the side of being overdressed. You will feel more confident knowing you are dressed for success! If you find yourself still unsure, this overview of common dress codes will help:
Business professional: In this environment suits are the norm. Women might typically wear a skirt or pantsuit with heels, and men it is common to wear a blazer or suit jacket, button down shirt, suit pants, a tie, and dress shoes.
Business casual: A suit is not needed. Men might consider dress slacks or chinos, a button down or polo shirt, a belt and dress shoes. Women might wear a conservative dress, or a blouse (or sweater) with a skirt or dress pants and dress shoes or boots.
Casual: It is still important to look polished and professional. Again, err on the side of being overdressed and go with a business casual outfit. (There will be plenty of time to rock the jeans, tennis shoes, and/or tees when you get the job!)
Want more clarity? Check out the '9 Things You Shouldn't Wear to a Job Interview'.
By: Allison Stephey