We all want to dress appropriately, while also dressing like a total boss for the job interview. After all, you don’t want to be worrying about whether you wore the right shirt while trying to field those crazy behavioral interview questions. Sometimes interviewers are kind enough to share information on office dress code as they invite you for an interview, but if that’s not the case here are some top tips for you to keep in mind when it comes to how to dress for the job interview.
Check out online by stalking their corporate social media. Try to get a glimpse of the office culture through their Instagram feed, or you can look up any press or profiles the company has been featured in to get a sense of the vibe of the office.
That’s key to figure out how to match your attire at the interview to the attire that you’re seeing their everyday office workers wear.
The most common three classifications I hear most from employers about are business attire, business casual and start-up casual or casual-casual.
If you’re talking business attire, we’re talking suits, pencil skirts, and hosiery. In a business attire environment, you’re going to want to step it up and err on the side of more formal.
If they say it’s business casual, you can leave the formal suits at home, but you might not want to bust out the jeans. This is a no jean, no sneaker, and generally no street attire allowed. Instead, you might want to go for a nice pair of slacks, khakis or a skirt with heels or flats.
This is also where a blazer can be really helpful to elevate any look. I’m a big fan of blazers. Every woman needs to have one kick-ass blazer in her wardrobe … and blouses, of course are a key part to putting together that outfit.
If you are looking at business casual, start-up casual, or casual casual environments, jeans are fine. I would always err on the side of darker wash jeans and make sure that you look put together. Even if you’re going to be casual and rocking a blouse and denim combination, make sure your shoes are clean. If you’re wearing cool sneakers, just make sure they look really clean, put together, and polished. You can elevate any casual attire with a blazer, my favorite element of dressing up for any wardrobe.
You’ll always want to make sure you get a sense of what the office attire is, so you can try your best to match that level of formality when you are interviewing.
It’s okay to be over-dressed
You might do research and find out that it’s a very casual environment, it’s still okay to put a little extra effort in when you’re interviewing. I would always rather be over-dressed than under-dressed. Keep that in mind and err on the side of more conservative and more formal whenever there’s a lack of clarity.
We’re not talking tuxedos. This is not a black tie event, but when it comes to an office that touts business casual, if you want to opt for more business attire, that’s totally fine.
If you’re interviewing at a very start-up casual environment and you want to opt for more business attire appropriate clothing to be on the safe side, that’s okay.
Always better to err upwards on the formality scale, if needed.
Keep it simple
You don’t want an outfit that requires your attention – or theirs. If you are wearing something that constantly requires you to be mindful of it, re-position it, or if it’s loud – like a wrist-full of bangles or dangle jewelry … anything that distracts the ear or the eye from you and the great things you have to say are best left at home.
This also applies to your personal comfort level. You have got to be comfortable in whatever you are wearing to an interview. Whenever I wear any attire that I don’t feel good in it distracts from my own performance.
At the end of the day, your comfort matters because you do not want to be distracted or distracting, so whatever makes you feel good and look good, make this your go-to interview outfit. You don’t need to have 75 different great interview outfits.
We really only need one or two when it comes to being called back for an interview. You might want to mix it up, but don’t be afraid to be consistent with what makes you feel and look good.
Add a pop of personality
If you’ve been a little disappointed and bored by what I’ve said so far in this post, you might be the kind of person who finds themselves delighted in showcasing your personality through fashion, and that’s cool and respected. I’m not telling you to tone it down, but I am saying that it’s important for all of us to be strategic in how we present ourselves.
If you’re the kind of person who’s got piercings, tattoos, and crazy cool hair, pick one area in your in your personal presentation that you want to create a pop of personality with. Maybe it’s a really cool frame of glasses that you wear. Maybe it’s a really bright, bold, and audacious hair style. Maybe it’s rocking that septum ring unapologetically. Wherever you feel like you can showcase yourself, feel free to let you freak flag fly a little bit in the interview just in one area.
I think we have to balance out any part of us that is loud and exciting which showcases our personality with simplicity.
When we have a really loud element – like our hair, nails, or shoes, and the rest of the outfit is screaming as well, it can feel a bit distracting instead of exciting. I like to think of it as creating the right canvas for your pop of personality.
I’m not saying to tone it down in every element of your personality, but I am saying to create the right frame or the right canvas for the pop of personality to really shine.