You’ve heard it before. Your first impression can make you or break you when it comes to a job interview. And when it comes to making a dynamic first impression, it’s key you dress for the job you want. Making sure you look the part not only packages you as a ready-to-hire employee, but it can boost your confidence as well.
Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re choosing the right outfit for your big day:
1. Err on the side of dressing up, not down.
It’s important in a job interview that you stay more conservative and look like a professional so the employer interviewing you sees you as one. Stay on the safe side. If you’re a woman, wear a solid-colored blouse, black pencil skirt or dress pants, and black heels. If you’re a guy, put on solid-colored dress shirt, a pair of button-down dress pants and polished shoes. If you’re wondering whether you should also wear a blazer and tie, look at the industry you’re in. If it’s more creative, the blazer and tie probably aren’t necessary. But if you’re interviewing at an investment firm, it’s mandatory. And again, it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed; it’s pretty hard to grossly overdress (at least for people with a decent amount of common sense), as most employers really appreciate the respect you showed by taking your interview seriously.
2. Good grooming is mandatory.
You don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed after a night of partying. Take the time to fix your hair, trim your nails, iron your outfit and make sure nothing is out of place. You want the interviewer’s focus to be on you and not your bad breath and bed head.
3. Don’t distract.
Make sure when you’re planning your outfit that nothing is distracting to the interviewer. Keep in mind that employers interview multiple candidates for each open position, and if they’re too busy focusing on your bracelets clunking together, they’re not going to pay attention to what you have to say. It’s also a good idea to stay away from wearing a strong perfume or cologne. You want to leave a lasting impression, just not the kind that smells.
4. Keep comfort in mind.
Just because you dress up, it doesn’t mean you should sacrifice utility. It’s not uncommon after a job interview to have a tour of the office, and you don’t want to be the girl who can barely walk in her five-inch stilettos, or the guy who winces in pain with every step from a blister. Make sure the outfit you choose is comfortable because once it’s on, it should be the last thing on your mind.
5. Don’t forget the final touches.
It’s ok to add a little personality to your interview ensemble in the form of accessories, and it’s essential if you’re entering a creative industry where personality is king. Just make sure that the creative touches you add don’t distract. If you’re a man, a nice watch could add to your outfit. If you’re a woman, a sleek purse or pearl earrings might be the way to go.
Dressing for success isn’t all that difficult, and it could be a deal-breaker if you don’t pay attention to it. As long as you stay away from things that distract, lean on the conservative side and present yourself nicely, you’re positioning yourself for an interview that focuses solely on you. And if all else fails, turn on CNN or SportsCenter and copy what the anchors wear.
Brianne Burrowes is the editor-in-chief of CareerSparx, an online course that helps recent college graduates begin their careers. For more information, download their free 61-page guide on how to start your career and check out the CareerSparx blog. Prior to CareerSparx, Brianne was the editor-in-chief of the Montanan, the alumni magazine of the University of Montana. She is also the founder of IWantHerJob.com.
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