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So you’re at the point in your job search process where you have gotten an interview. Time to take a deep breath and relax! Although interviews can be nerve-wracking, it’s a significant achievement to have gotten to the interview stage at all. Your resume and cover letter were impressive and exciting to this employer. How can you make a first impression that will maintain this aura of accomplishment and wow these employers? This article will cover all you need to know about what to wear to an interview. Read on!
The first step is to think about what you’re going to wear. The beauty of fashion is that it communicates, meaning that your clothing can express your style and originality and your knowledge of how to navigate a social situation. Based on what you wear, you can share valuable information that will demonstrate attributes like attention to detail, respect, and more. This is why, for the most part, you will want to dress business casual for an interview. You don’t necessarily have to wear business casual all the time to fit into a business-casual office. Still, the step of dressing up communicates a level of respect for the workplace and its culture. Of course, it will take some research of the company’s culture, which you should do before every interview, to know precisely how casual or formal your attire should be, but here are a few suggestions and guidelines for navigating these situations.
Business Casual Dressing for Men
- Long-sleeve shirts paired with sweaters and blazers tend to express a professional look. Consider button-downs paired with a sweater on top, revealing the collar and sleeve cuffs, or turtlenecks with blazers, for funky, modern, and professional options.
- For virtual interviews, only the top half of your outfit will be visible. Still, you can boost your mindset to have a fully polished interview outfit on while you interview as a confidence boost. Dressing well has a similar effect on your confidence as “power posing,” making you seem more comfortable in an interview setting and helping you make a good impression. A pair of dark jeans with a belt might be a good option for a virtual interview because it is comfortable but put-together.
- For onsite interviews, some more thought might be necessary for the bottoms. It would still be acceptable to wear a dark pair of jeans with dark socks and a belt at some workplaces. In some work environments, however, jeans are frowned upon. In this case, you would want to wear a pair of ironed khakis or dark dress pants. You can play with fabrics in a casual environment, such as linen, or patterns, such as pinstripes.
- Accessories can be vital in communicating a sense of yourself as a worker. Coordinated socks and pants and coordinated belts and shoes are a men’s fashion staple that you might want to abide by. Watches with leather or metal straps are often recommended—you don’t need to splurge a ton, but wearing a look indicates an awareness of time and a value of punctuality, which will reflect well on you.
Business Casual Dressing for Women
- The classic example of business casual for women is a conservative top, a blazer, a knee-length pencil skirt or dress pants, and simple accessories. This outfit is a classic model and pretty good to follow, but sometimes it can feel repetitive.
- Depending on the workplace, you can experiment with mixing and matching different closet essentials such as sweaters and skirts. As long as you feel like you are maintaining a sense of respect and professionalism, you can get pretty funky.
- Makeup is often a consideration for a job interview—it might be useful to have an average amount for yourself to feel pretty standard. In general, it is good to have some on to make it seem like effort was put in, but if you are not confident applying makeup, it might be a good idea to either practice beforehand or go to the interview with a bare face. If you generally wear a lot of makeup, some might advise that you tone it down in professional environments. Still, if you research the company culture and feel comfortable wearing your everyday makeup look, that is probably fine.
- Accessories are an excellent way to play an outfit up or down. Depending on what you are wearing and what the workplace is like, you could wear chunky or colorful jewelry to look more fun or simple gold chains and small earrings to create a more polished aura. Bags also carry some meaning—a larger bag such as a briefcase can look very professional since you can quickly bring papers or a laptop, while a smaller bag might look better as a fashion statement. In cold weather, trench coats can add a professional aura to any outfit.
In the end, the best interview attire will communicate your style and an understanding of the way the workplace operates. It is possible that your closet already contains clothing worth wearing to an interview, as long as you match the right items and accessories. If you trust yourself, your style, and your impression of the company, then you can make your interview outfit go a long way!
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The Job Interview Style Guide is a conversational step-by-step manual for men and women who want to learn how to dress for an interview and automatically attract employers in a way that will make them stand out.