When your big interview day rolls around, you’re going to want your interview outfit to be perfect. What you choose to wear can say a lot about you, both as a person and as a future employee. Like it or not, it’s human nature to make quick judgments and judge a book by its cover. So make sure your cover is not only impressive, but that it instills you with confidence.
Often, job seekers have the impulse to go out an buy a whole new interview outfit. This is totally normal, but you probably have everything you need to put together an awesome outfit already in your closet. The average interview outfit costs $200 or more. Why spend the money if you don’t have to? And if you’re really feeling like your wardrobe needs to make some professional additions, hit up your local consignment shop. You can find awesome pieces for a fraction of what you’d pay in the store.
Since you’ve only got one chance to make a first impression, here’s a run down of how to put together your ideal interview outfit.
We’re going to start off with the basics. Make sure your interview outfit is…
This should be the ultimate no-brainer, but make sure the clothes you pick out are free of stains, wrinkles, and funky smells. We’re not suggesting you need to bring the outfit to a professional cleaner. However, it is important to toss things in the wash a few days before and iron as needed.
You want to look clean-cut on the big day! If your blazer’s sleeves go up past your wrists or your pants are constantly falling down, you run the risk of looking sloppy in front of the hiring manager. Your interview outfit should boost your confidence. It definitely helps if your outfit flatters you. If you know you look downright debonair, it’s one less thing for your to worry about the morning before your interview.
Now is not the time to wow them with your impressive collection of band tees. Casual wear like sweats, yoga pants, joggers, flip-flops, and your old converse aren’t going to send the right message.
Professional dress also means avoiding anything revealing. Steer clear of anything too tight, short, or low-cut. Not sure if your outfit is too sexy for a job interview? It’s always best to play it safe! If it feels questionable it probably means it isn’t quite appropriate for the occasion.
Now that we’ve covered the obvious, let’s get advanced!
Don’t Fear Color
You don’t need to default to a black suit and white button-up on your interview day. While this is certainly safe, if you’re applying to a younger, more laid back company, you give off some serious “corporate drone” vibes. To combat this, inject your outfit with a splash of color. A bright shirt or blouse will draw eyes up to your face and keep the interview focused on you. A bold jacket can help you stand out from the crowd. If you’re feeling extroverted, you can also play with pattern mixing if you’re comfortable with it – but you should probably stay clear of power clashing.
Less is More
It can be tempting to put on your best accessories to impress the interviewers. But you’re not a decorator crab! You’re a potential employee. And you don’t want your outfit to distract from your actual qualifications. Limit jewelry to just a few pieces – don’t just pile on the bling. Avoid loud, jangling items, like charm bracelets or bangles.
This goes for cosmetics as well! Any makeup you choose to wear should be simple and appear natural. It’s also good to leave the cologne and perfume at home. Some people are allergic or sensitive to fragrances. Opt for an odorless deodorant instead.
Step It Up
Dress one level above what the company’s employees usually wear. This will keep you from seeming over- or underdressed when you walk in. For example, you may not want to show up in a full suit and tie to an interview at a start up where the CTO’s go to outfit is basketball shorts. Likewise, if you’re interviewing at a prestigious law firm, wearing a collared shirt and khakis won’t cut it. To find out what typical office attire is, do some research! You can hit up Glassdoor, message an employee on LinkedIn, or review their website (some companies will mention casual dress in their company culture section).
If you’re at a complete loss, go for something versatile. Wear a jacket with your skirt or suit pants and a basic button down (French Blue is always a safe bet!). If the environment is more formal, keep the jacket on. If it’s not, you can remove it once you sit down for your interview. Then you’re good to go!
One final note:
Always, always, ALWAYS try on your interview outfit a couple of days before your interview. You don’t want to spend the morning scrambling and stressing about what you’re going to wear. Or, you could find the perfect outfit only to realize that it’s dirty, wrinkled or damaged.
Trying things on ahead of time also means you can share your outfit with your most fashion-forward friends (the #squad would never let you down!) and get their feedback.