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What to Wear to a Job Interview
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Preparing for an interview is extremely important, and many candidates want to know how to dress for a job interview. Your appearance is crucial in making a positive first impression. You cannot assume that you can dress for the interview the way that the current employees dress for the job. Your attire should convey to the potential employer that you care enough about this job opportunity to look your best.
Even though the industry and location of the job you are interviewing for can influence your style, it is always recommended to dress professionally on a first interview. You can adjust your wardrobe to fit into the workplace culture after you get the job. For now, you want to be remembered for how well you present your employable skills, not for making a fashion statement. Unless of course you are applying for a career in fashion, and even then, you would want to look sharp instead of edgy.
Let us consider every aspect of your appearance and explain in detail how to dress for a job interview.
The most important factor in your appearance is your personal hygiene. This should be obvious, but you must shower and wear deodorant on the day of your interview. Be cautious about using too much cologne or perfume. You want to smell clean, not like a department store, and strong smells can be offensive to the interviewer. Wash and press your clothes for a job interview. Also, use a lint roller. Pet hair and lint are unacceptable.
Personal Hygiene also includes clean fingernails, and trimmed facial hair. Styles change from time to time, and current fashion trends are less conservative. Women today wear long, painted nails, and many men have full beards. Know the industry you are applying for, and ask yourself, is my appearance appropriate for this company? You want to dress for the job you want, not for the life you have. You also don’t want anything to be a distraction from the interview. Rethink a bold statement like neon green acrylic nails for a job interview. Or if you have a lunch interview scheduled, do you really want to risk food getting stuck in your beard?
Whatever look you decide is right for you, make sure that it’s clean and well maintained.
Your hair is a significant element to your appearance and personal hygiene. Just this year, New York City passed an anti-discrimination law to ensure that employers cannot discriminate against applicants for wearing ethnic hairstyles. In the past African American candidates were advised not to wear dreadlocks, twists, braids, afros, or other natural styles in the workplace. However, the recognition of black culture and natural hair texture is becoming more common and reinforced by labor laws.
Regardless of how you wear your hair, make sure it is clean and groomed for a job interview. If you have an interview scheduled, this is the perfect time to get your hair done. Get your braids tightened, dreads twisted, afros shaped, and your roots colored. Do you have split ends? Get a trim. If you’re particularly bad at styling your own hair, consider booking a blowout, or watch a tutorial on simple hairstyles like a low bun. Guys, remove the hair on the back of your neck before a job interview. Remember, you want the recruiter to know that you made an effort to look your best.
Also, on the day of the interview, wash your hair and avoid using too much gel or hairspray. Just as too much perfume can be offensive, the same goes for hair product. This is not a fashion contest or a night at the club. You just want to look and smell like a professional.
Let’s consider attire for men and women separately.
Women have the added options of wearing dresses and skirts as well as pants. So ask yourself, what are you most comfortable wearing? You want to look sharp but feeling confident is equally as important. So much of an interview is selling yourself, so dressing in a way that makes you feel powerful is going to help you when it’s time to speak up. The weather is also going to play a factor in deciding what look is most appropriate for your interview. It’s always good to have a couple of options in your closet so you can easily make the choice to wear pants if you’re job hunting in the winter. Wearing shorts or denim is never acceptable for the first job interview.
Suit jackets and blazers are also more optional for women than men. Depending on the job and the season, a long-sleeve blouse or button-down cardigan might be sufficient. Short-sleeves and tank-tops are always too casual for any job interview. If you choose to wear a dress, it should be paired with a jacket or cardigan, and panty-hose is recommended. Knowing what to wear for a job interview may require a little extra research on the company you are applying to. A preschool teacher candidate will not be expected to wear a suit to the interview, but a paralegal applicant should.
Men have fewer options than women for interview attire, but you still have to decide if the job you are applying to requires you to wear a suit. If so, make sure it fits well, and avoid wearing all black. Wearing a tie will also depend on the industry of the company and the title of the position you are applying for. More casual interview style options for men include vests, sweaters, and trousers. Blues and grays are safe color schemes, and only very subtle prints or patterns should be worn.
Both men and women should avoid wearing bright colors and bold patterns for an interview. If a man chooses to wear a tie, that is his canvas to add a little flair to his suit. For women, limit patterns or bright colors to one part of your outfit. Dressing for a job interview is not the opportunity to take unnecessary fashion risks. In order to make your best first impression, dress in clothes that are clean, pressed, free of stains, or holes, and well-tailored to fit your shape.
Aside from women having the option to wear a low heel, the rules for what shoes to wear to a job interview are very similar for men and women. Shoes should be a dark color, either black, grey, or brown. Closed-toe, and closed heel. Men should wear oxford style shoes, but loafers and low boots are acceptable with more casual interview looks. Tennis shoes or sneakers are not preferred outside of select industries that are extremely casual. Consider buying a pair of shoes just for job interviews so that they stay free of stains or scuffs.
Men and women alike wear jewelry, and it can be used as an appropriate accent to any look. Just avoid wearing too much. One or two pieces are a nice touch and can provide the interviewer with a hint of your personal taste. A really great piece might even serve as a conversation starter, so select your interview jewelry strategically. Avoid wearing anything like oversized, swinging earrings that will be distracting to the recruiter during your conversation.
Hats and sunglasses should never be worn during an interview unless its an extremely rare occasion where the interview will take place outside in the sun. Remove your sunglasses, and put them away before you walk into the interview. They should not be on your head or hanging from your shirt. You made it this far, so look and act professionally. Part of making your positive first impression is making eye contact.
It might seem counterintuitive to leave the designer handbag at home when you’re trying to impress the recruiter, but you also don’t want to be too flashy or showy. When it comes time to negotiate salary, typically on the second interview, you might lose your leverage if you show off with a $2,000 purse. Again, it is important to consider the job and company you are applying to. In general, a Human Resources Manager is not going to be motivated to offer you a higher wage just because you have expensive taste.
It’s 2019 and body art is a commonly accepted form of individual expression. In fact, over 40% of millennials now have tattoos. However, the older generations are still responsible for most of the recruiting and they are often more conservative. If you made the choice to have visible tattoos, then you should have already decided that a career in government or finance is not your goal. Finding a company that fits with your artistic values is going to be critical in your job search if you have prioritized body art over wearing a suit to work. For example, having tattoos on your face, hands, or throat is going to make it more likely to get hired as a bartender as opposed to a bank teller, but hopefully, you knew that already.
Ultimately, learning how to dress for a job interview can help you get the job offer. Every detail matters when you are competing against other candidates for a job. So, look your best. Always chose professional looks over trendy styles, be clean, and keep it simple.