Dressing the Part

dress for successYes, it is the year 2013 and yes, many things have changed drastically with the new generation of graduates and young job candidates, but dressing correctly for an interview is still of upmost importance.  A perfect resume and transcript can easily be overlooked if the job candidate does not dress appropriately for the part.

The standard recommendations are that women should wear a solid color, conservative suit with a coordinated blouse.  Moderate shoes should be a part of your interview attire.  Steer clear of spiky, clunky, and bold shoes. When it comes to shoes, closed toe is the best way to go, even in the summer.  Limit your jewelry and accessories.  Hair should be neat and professional. When it comes to perfume and make up, less is more.  Carry a portfolio or a briefcase and skip the oversized, stuff handbag. Men, too, should stick with a solid color, conservative suit with a white long sleeve shirt and conservative tie. Professional shoes and dark shoes should complete the attire.  Apply aftershave sparingly and just as it is recommended for women, carry a briefcase or portfolio.

Many of the recommendations are standard but there are some additional things you can do to walk into the interview feeling confident and dressed for the test. People who work together have a tendency to dress in sync. If time permits, make a plan to have a cup of coffee or other beverage near the office where your interview will take place.  Observe what the other employees and employers are wearing.  Remember, however, dressing for the interview may require a little more formality. Take advantage of other networking apparatus. For instance, if you are interviewing for a law firm, contact the local bar associations.

It is worth the money to have your clothing tailored properly. If clothing is too tight or loose, it can make you appear unkempt. Short skirts may be in but hemlines should be barely above the knee for an interview. For men, trousers should touch the tops of the shoe.  No matter what field you are interviewing in, you’ll do well to find the line between looking stiff and looking sloppy.

For law firms or investment banks, go with a suit. You’ll want to avoid trendier pieces, even if your interview is at a dot-com or creative ad agency. Looking professional does not have to mean wearing black only. Choosing a classic top, pair of trousers or shift dress in a rich and vibrant color demonstrates a certain level of confidence. Again, it is best to investigate the status quo of the company you are interviewing with. Also, steer clear of big bracelets or large cocktail rings that can get in the way of a firm handshake.

Be sure to sit down in the interview attire you have chosen. Some outfits look good when you are standing up, but when you’re seated across from your potential employer it could reveal more of you than the interviewer would like to see. Buttons can gape, or skirts can ride up. A dress rehearsal in your interview attire is highly recommended.

Preparing what you will wear to your interview can be as important as the responses you choose for the interview.  Do your homework, ask those who know, and get set, get ready, and get dressed.

Source: Kallor, Amber. “What to Wear to an Interview: The New Rules.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

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