Just because the weather is a hot mess on the day of your job interview doesn’t mean you can be. …And so begins the trouble of figuring out what to wear when interviewing in the middle of summer.
When it’s so hot that the sidewalks are steaming and the seatbelt buckle in your car could give you third-degree burns, there’s not much that you want to do apart from sitting in a pool with a fan blowing directly on you.
But life goes on. And sometimes, life may even hand you a job interview on a day when the temperature feels l like it could be nearing 9,000 degrees.
So, in addition to the usual nerves you feel about avoiding making a job interview mistake or explaining a gap in your resume, now you’re also having a mini freak-out about what you’ll wear and how you’ll possibly show up looking cool, calm, and collected.
So what do you wear to a job interview in hot weather? While it’s a challenge, it’s one you can easily surmount with a little smart planning.
1. Choose garments wisely
Making sure you look great when you show up for your interview involves a lot more than just clothes, but your outfit is the best place to start, since the garments you choose could make or break the first impression you make. Just to make one thing abundantly clear: even though it’s hot out, how you dress for this job interview shouldn’t vary that much from how you’d dress in November. It’s still an interview after all. But here are some ways to make it work for summer:
- First, on a hot day, you should try to avoid natural materials like 100% cotton or linen because they wrinkle and wilt like nobody’s business when it’s hot out. Try to pick fabric that includes at least a small percentage of a synthetic material (like Lycra), which will help keep your outfit crisp and professional-looking.
- As for color, keep in mind that while light shades may keep you cooler in the sun, they are also more likely to show sweat.
You can (and probably should) absolutely go for the classic business suit look, but you’ll be much cooler if you wear an unlined suit made of lightweight material, instead of the usual heavy wool.
- Choose a thin, silk shell or blouse to go underneath and you’ll look and feel put-together.
- But remember that if it’s hot outside, there will likely be Arctic-level air conditioning inside, so don’t hesitate to choose a long-sleeved blazer.
- Alternatively, you can opt for a lightweight dress with an unlined blazer. (just remember that your skirt or dress length and neckline should still err on the side of conservative—despite the fact that you probably want to wear only the minimum amount of clothes necessary.)
- Avoid pantyhose as they’ll only make you hotter and are no longer considered a necessary addition to “business casual”.
- And, as always, your shoe choice should represent a balance of style and comfort. But given the fact that your feet may sweat, you should choose a shoe that allows you to wear a thin liner so you won’t be slipping around inside your heels.
2. Go for the easiest form of transportation (and give yourself plenty of time)
Now that you’ve figured out how to dress for your interview, it’s time to plan your arrival to ensure you avoid (or at least remedy) any heat-related appearance issues before you shake hands with your interviewer.
If you can drive to the job interview, do that, even if parking is expensive. Otherwise, it’s best to take a taxi and ask the driver to pump up the AC for you on the way.
Also, make sure to calculate how long it will take you to get to the interview and then double that, at least. Nothing gets you panicked and overheated quicker than the feeling of being late or not having enough time to check yourself over before you walk in.
3. Consider getting dressed when you get there
If you have to take public transportation (or walk), you ought to give yourself extra time and consider wearing a much cooler outfit on the way there and suiting up before you walk into the interview.
This may sound extreme, but scout out places where you might be able to do change—a Starbucks is a great option. If a full change isn’t an option, at least carry your blazer in a dry cleaning bag so you can throw it on at the last moment before your job interview, even in the air-conditioned lobby. In the end, it’s going to save you a lot of stress.
4. Keep hair and makeup to a minimum
A hot weather professional look is all about simplicity—this is not the time to experiment with some fancy new makeup method or an elaborate hairstyle. Thankfully, the “no makeup” makeup look is totally on trend. Stick to a neutral, minimal makeup look that’s easy to touch up if you start to melt a bit in the heat. For your hair, try a sleek and cool look like a low chignon.
And be very careful about your scent. The strength of perfume is multiplied when your body temperature goes up, so choose something very light or wear nothing at all.
5. Plan a pre-interview cool down (… which is also a warm-up)
Regardless of your mode of transportation, you should still do a little research beforehand to find a coffee shop or restaurant close to the job interview location. Give yourself 10 minutes to sit down with a cold drink as you mentally go through your responses to the most common job interview questions and do whatever rituals you use to build your confidence before a big meeting.
Figure in another 10 minutes or so to go to the bathroom and do some final checks. If your outfit includes a sweater or blazer, then you should bring it with you and put it on here instead of at home. Use this time to take a look at your makeup, your hair, and your clothes one last time before you head out.
A few more tips
If you’re at all worried about sweating, you may want to pick up some underarm shields, which will absorb any excess moisture that might throw you off your game. You can easily find them on Amazon or at Target.
Put together your own little emergency kit for that last check, including baby powder, moist towelettes, antiperspirant, makeup, hairspray, hair elastic, bobby pins, a Tide stick, oil-absorbing sheets for your face, mints or breath strips, and a bottle of water.
Wait until the last minute to put on anything that’s hot or uncomfortable.
Keep a handkerchief in your pocket or in an outside pocket of your bag to wipe away any sweat at the last second.
Bring a cold bottle of water with you — sipping it on your route to the job interview will actually cool you down.
More from Ladders
- This startup will never let you use the ‘I forgot my gym clothes’ excuse again
- 5 tips for answering the trickiest job interview question
- The 6 clothing items every professional woman should own, according to stylists
- Men’s grooming for beginners: Why you should pay more attention to your sideburns and stubble
- 4 secrets every carry-on traveler swears by