In today’s highly competitive job market, it is imperative for candidates to be fully prepared for an interview. This includes choosing the appropriate interview attire. The idea is to project an image to a future employer that conveys a responsible, hard working and motivated worker. And nothing says that more clearly than what you choose to wear during that all-important first impression.
Debra Pierce, director for career services for Miami International University of Art & Design and Kate Campbell, director for fashion and retail management at The Art Institute of Tampa, help shed some light on dressing for the interview in the new business environment.
Do your homework. Yes, dressing for the interview requires you to research the employer. If you are applying for a job with a young, trendy boutique, dress in a way that the interviewer can envision you in their shop servicing their clientele.
Stylish is better than funky. Employers want to see that you will fit in with their business. However, be warned – stylish is better than funky. Too much “trend” can scare a potential employer away. Good taste is more valuable than how avante-garde you can be. This is not the time to experiment. For the guys, the same rules apply.
“When you walk through the door, you should be mistaken for the boss,” says Campbell. “Caveat: This is a fine line to walk. If you walk in wearing Prada, and the interviewing manager is in a Brooks Brothers suit, are you sending the right message? Don’t overdress or get label happy. Leave the Gucci and Guess at home; keep it clean, neutral and generic.”
Clean goes a long way. Clean, pressed khakis or dress pants are preferred. Clean, appropriate shoes and accessories are essential (use a tie if it matches the employer’s profile). No T-shirts with political satire, obscene graphics or logos. No droopy jeans or visible underwear. Again, this is not the time to make a personal statement. You should reflect the employer’s values and image. If all else fails, a basic blue or gray suit is always stylish and in good taste.
Accessories. Be frugal with jewelry – less is more. If your jewelry jingles, makes noise or can get caught on any of your clothes, leave it at home.
Keep your grooming simple. Hair should be clean and neat, and nails clean and well manicured. Chipped nail polish will not make a good impression. The applicant should look like they cared enough to shower. Go light on makeup. Heavy eye makeup or lipstick is a no-no.
Go easy on the perfume and aftershave. There is nothing worse than causing your interviewer to have an allergic reaction.
Shoes need to be clean and in good shape. “No sandals of any kind – no matter where you live,” says Campbell.
Color is important. Dressing for the interview also requires that you choose colors carefully.
“Color as part of your interview strategy is extremely important since it is a useful tool in conveying a powerful message – that said, make sure you’re sending the right message,” says Pierce.
Blue, especially navy, is a go-to color because it conveys an image of someone in control but it also conjures up calm, stability, trust, truth, confidence and security. Gray is the second most popular color for an interview after blue. It has similar traits to blue, but also denotes sophistication.
While black commands authority, it also implies drama and can make you appear unapproachable, so use it sparingly – perhaps as an accent color. Green indicates nature, success, wealth and security. It is a calming color and is very relaxing. Dark green is masculine, conservative and implies wealth. Stay away from reds, oranges and yellows. Red is a powerful color and is associated with energy, passion, desire, power and aggression. Orange is similar to red in that it can stimulate strong emotions. Yellow promotes a wide range of emotions including cheer, goodwill, caution and even jealousy. For these reasons, any of these colors should be used as an accent color only. White shirts and blouses are conventional and convey cleanliness, goodness and precision. Purple and pinks are both feminine colors and should be worn with discretion, especially in fields with a strong gender bias.
“Wear” confidence. “Confidence comes from knowing who you are and what your values are, and most importantly being comfortable with them – whether or not you get the job,” says Pierce. Your level of confidence really does come across in an interview, so don’t forget to come prepared and show it.
Provided by The Art Institutes schools.