Look The Part And Land The Job!
As a person that has been on several interviews recently, and conducted countless interviews in the past, I know a thing or two about dressing the part for the interview. I can't tell you how many times I have had candidates show up for interviews dressed inappropriately, which is why I thought this might be valuable to discuss.
First, let's break down the different types of dress for interviews; business casual and business professional. Those are the only two options when dressing for an interview. Why do I say that? Well, because anything less suggests that you haven't put in any effort and aren’t that interested in the job. Regardless of whether your interview is for a job at your local mall or fortune 500 company, you need to dress and present yourself accordingly.
Business Casual vs. Business Professional
I've gotten the question a lot, "What is the difference between business casual and business professional? And which way should I dress?" This all depends on the job you are going for. Today we are going to talk about Business Casual dress, but we will be going over Business Professional later this week. Anytime you are going to an interview, the minimum requirement is Business Casual. Whether the job is with a store in your local mall, a restaurant, a local professional office or business setting, you want to make sure you dress, at least, in business casual attire. Business Professional is typically reserved for more corporate, or higher end jobs.
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have...
Business Casual for Women
Let's start with your top. Your top should be a blouse or a nice button down. #Tip: Your clothes should always be pressed, steamed or ironed whenever you are going on an interview. Why? Because not taking the time to press, iron or steam your clothing shows a lack of time management or caring on your part. It suggests that you are sloppy or lazy when it comes to certain things, which could translate into various aspects of your job performance.
Neutral Button Down
Patterned Button Down
Your Lower Half
For the bottom, you have a little bit of flexibility, though you should steer clear of denim, unless you know that is part of their dress code. With that said, you do have some options when it comes to what you wear on your lower half. Khaki pants, patterned pants, skirts, and ankle pants are all acceptable options. Here are some of my favorites:
The Patterned Pant
The Pencil Skirt
Jackets and Sweaters
To wear a jacket, or not wear a jacket? That is the question. I personally always feel like a jacket is appropriate. In many cases it can pull the whole outfit together and give you that polished look you're going for. Remember: A major part of the interview is how you present yourself. Often times, the interviewer will know within the first five minutes whether or not you are a realistic candidate based on appearance and non verbal queues, so be warned.
A sweater could also be acceptable for Business Casual interviews, but you want to beside it is a good quality sweater. There should be no pulls or snags in the material. Your sweater should also be a solid color. If you've gone for a neutral top, this could be a fun way to bring some color into your outfit.
Ladies, I know we love our shoes, however, there are some things that I recommend steering clear of when heading off to an interview. Sandal and open-toed shoes are not appropriate. Whenever you are heading off to an interview, you want to make sure your toes are covered.This may seem like something trivial, but trust me, your shoes make a difference. You also don't want to go with a stiletto, those are just a spill waiting to happen.
Aside some that, I do believe you can have fun with your shoes. Patterns, embellishments and moderate heals are all acceptable.
Your accessories is something that can tie your whole look together. Admittedly, I always overlook this piece, but when I remember, it pulls the whole outfit together. Now ladies, I love a good piece of statement jewelry, but truthfully, I think less is more when it comes to jewelry and dressing for an interview. I always tend to lean toward simple necklaces and earring. A simple bracelet or watch can also work some wonders for your outfit.
Whether you agree with the old adage or not, you should "dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Dressing nicely for an interview or for your job doesn't mean that you have to break the bank. There are a lot of really great retailers out there that offer smart and sophisticated options, while maintaining a reasonable price tag.
In my experience, I tend to splurge, when I can, on the basics that I know I'm going to get a lot of use out of (i.e. a great blazer, pair of pants or blouse), but tend to shop more bargain when it comes to seasonal or on trend items. Remember, when it comes to dressing, you want to collect pieces that are versatile and good quality. I would much rather have 30 really great pieces in my closet, then 150 so-so pieces that I fall in and out of love with daily.
When dressing for the interview, you want to make sure you're comfortable. Whatever you end up wearing, be sure you feel comfortable in it. If you're not feeling confident in what you are wearing it will shine through in the interview, and possibly impact whether or not you land the job.
Gentlemen, don't worry. I'll be going over business casual for you all too. That post will be coming next week.