The Job Interview: What to wear, and what to avoid.
“Appropriate wear to a job interview includes a sport coat, collar shirt and dress pants for men, and a conservative skirt business suit ensemble for women. Avoid loud jewelry, bold color and excessive cologne or perfume.
“What you wear is your potential employer’s first look at who you are,” said Dexter Price, founder and CEO of Aiken Personnel Services. “And you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. What you wear is an expression of who you are, and who you want to present as a representation of yourself. You want to be someone an employer wants to make an investment in, and a lot of that is based on how you look.
Price offered some advice on what should be worn to a job interview, what to wear and what to leave on the hanger.
Wear Proper Fitting Clothes
“Make sure the clothes fit well,” Price said. “If it’s been awhile since you have worn your ‘Interview outfit,’ take the time to try it on before the interview. If it doesn’t fit the way it used to, try something else. If it doesn’t feel good on you, it probably won’t look good on you either.”
Find something that is tailored to suit you over something that may not feel right, and is either too tight or too short, Price said.
“It may not only give the wrong impression, it may also be distracting,” he said. “Tugging at a skirt hem, for example, is another distraction that takes away from the focus on you and your skills.”
Dressed and Pressed
When you are looking for a job, money can be tight, and you don’t have that extra pocket money to invest in new clothes. There is an inexpensive alternative where you can acquire quality clothing at less than market prices.
“Goodwill and consignment shops offer quality ‘slightly worn’ ensembles for men and women at very affordable prices,” Price said. “For as little as $20, you can find a pair of pants and a sport coat to wear to that next interview.”
A trip to cleaners would help as well, to make sure what you’re wearing looks pressed and smells clean.
A trip to the barber, or the hair stylist would help as well.
“If you have a beard, trim it, or shave,” Price said. “While you don’t have to go out and invest in a brand new suit, looking well-dressed goes a long way in presenting a good first impression. Dress like you have somewhere to go, whether you’re going anywhere or not.”
Lose the “Casual Look”
Even if you’re interviewing at a laid-back workplace, it’s still possible to take the casual concept too far, Price said. “Don’t’wear jeans, Air Jordans, shirts, hats, flip-flops, or anything that has a message or brand written on it. Lose the swag. Leave the bling at home.
“For men wearing a suit, do not wear loud, obnoxious colors, busy-printed shirts or overly patterned ties.” Take the conservative approach, and save the fun stuff for after you’ve got the job.
For women, the conservative approach works as well. This means no platform heels, no sun dresses. Makeup and jewelry should be toned down. For men and women both, stick to the basics: a black, blue or gray suit, minimal jewelry. Guys, leave the earrings at home.
“Keep some length on the dresses and skirts. Wear shoes that are comfortable and appropriate,” he said. “Look professional. You should be the focus of the interview, not your clothing.
A job interview is not the appropriate time to make a statement with your jewelry, Price said.
“Stay away from jewelry that can be distracting, such as jewelry that jingles.
The experts advise against wearing perfume and cologne as well.
“When in doubt, leave it out,” Price said. “It’s a good thing to play it safe during an interview. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.”
The Simple Rules are the Best Rules
“Don’t ignore the obvious,” Price said. “Be clean. Look clean and smell clean. Be dressed and pressed. Don’t show up to an interview in wrinkled or dirty clothing. Use common sense. If you have pets at home, make sure the pet hair doesn’t come with you on your dress or suit coat. Never wear what you might consider wearing at a bar or nightclub with your friends.
“Keep it simple,” he said. “If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s okay to overdress for an interview. It’s better to have it – a sportcoat and tie – and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
Be comfortable. Be yourself. But look like you know what you’re doing.