Your appearance shows respect not only for yourself but also for the company with whom you are interviewing.
Today’s society has fashions of all sorts—uniforms and different atmospheres to which the interpretation of dress is implied. As for you, you don’t have the job yet! You are on the outside looking in! In essence, you’re not a member of “the club” yet.
We suggest wearing a blue or black suit with white or light-colored under blouse to be conservative and appropriate.
“Do I wear a skirt or slacks as part of my suit?”
You wear whichever one you feel most comfortable in! If you feel best wearing pants, then by all means put the slacks on! You will then not be so preoccupied by feeling out of sorts with what is not in your comfort zone!
As a rule of thumb for skirt length, wear something just above the knee or just below the knee. Never wear a mini. You want to be evaluated and hired because of your intelligence, not because you have something to show. Yes, I know you want the job—but you want it for all the right reasons!
If you feel good on the outside, the inside is going to be far more at ease during your first impression to this prospective employer.
Each situation governs what you should wear, but minimal is always suggested. You don’t want to be too flashy—clunky pieces that make a lot of noise can be annoying—and try to avoid gaudy pieces with diamonds and jewels.
Pearls or small-to-mid-sized hoops in a gold/silver tone are always appropriate and safe bets! You want your image to project professionalism and not have them wondering, “Wow, if she can wear this to an interview, I can’t imagine what she would wear on a Friday night!”
Closed-toe shoes are always the most appropriate. Definitely don’t wear any flip-flops or strappy sandals on a hot summer day. And keep in mind that, yes, we women like our shoes—but don’t let your shoes overpower your attire and/or your interview. Can you wear boots? You could, but the boot should be in nice taste (dress) and, if wearing it with a skirt, then the skirt should come just over the top of the boot.
Again, you need to feel comfortable, but you should never be overly made up. Makeup should be worn in moderation and should be effortless and naturally appealing to the eye. Wear soft earth tones and no bold colors on the eyes. No heavy blush strokes on the cheeks. Again, with the lips, don’t wear anything too bold. (Lip liner should not be noticeable. If it is, then you are using the wrong shade.)
Please don’t wear overpowering perfumes! You want to be remembered for your presentation and not for the scent that was left behind.
True Story: We had a client one time who interviewed a young lady who wore a very strong perfume. His office reeked of it for two days. She had so much perfume on that it was imbedded in the fabric-upholstered chairs in his office. She apparently had the coordinating lotion on. It was on the resume and reference pages as well as the company application. He could not get rid of the smell. His office was in a high-rise with only glass viewing windows that didn’t open. He finally destroyed everything that she came in contact with and moved his extra chairs to the conference room! Needless to say, she was not invited back for a second interview and he couldn’t even think about hiring her.
For interviews use soft, light, fresh, clean scents and no fruity stuff. Avoid inviting or romantic fragrances. Now, many of us have perfumes at home that are quite fine—just know which one to wear and when!
Also, you never know who may have allergies, so keep that in mind. Keep your hands free of fragrances. Definitely put your lotions on so your hands are soft to the touch and firm to the shake—but don’t smother them with your perfume.
Natural is always best. Well-manicured nails with a light polish or French finish is very appealing.
Hair should always be well-groomed and trimmed. It needs to be out of your face. The interviewers should not be distracted and should be able to see the face of the person they are interviewing.
Extreme hairstyles are appropriate only if it is fitting to the industry in which you are applying. If you are looking to try something fun and creative with your hair, land the job first and then find out what the company policy is in regards to what you want to do.
If you have long hair, take the time to pin it up professionally. No, you don’t have to put it in a bun or look like grandma—just use a nice clip or something. Even if you have taken in all other measures to prepare yourself for an interview, make sure to also follow through with this one.
True story: We had a client who said she loved long hair but that if you came in with it just hanging down, she personally would brush you off in two seconds—no joke! In her mind, she felt that it was extremely unprofessional to come in with a nice tailored suit on with long hair hanging everywhere. It didn’t matter if you had all the qualifications in the world, this was her pet peeve and she awarded NO second chances.
Yes, we can smell it and, no, we may not hire you because of it! Insurance costs are up, and most companies will not take on additional risks that will make them go up even more. Do not smoke in a closed-up vehicle on the way to your interview! Your suit, your resume, and everything on you will be saturated with the odor of cigarette smoke. It is never appealing to the interviewers whether they are or are not smokers. And always have an effective breath mint handy to freshen up your breath before you walk in.
Turn it off! There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Nobody wants to hear a beep, jingle, or something vibrating. Generally speaking, your cell phone should be turned off prior to entering the office for an interview.
Something discreet in size is most recommended. You don’t need to come in with something so large it appears you are taking up residence. A portfolio, organizer, or purse should be neat in appearance. It should not be so crammed that you look totally disorganized. You might be asked for something and don’t want to be caught sifting through papers that you might not want exposed (such as other job postings, personal business, etc.). A crisp file folder is perfectly fine as well.
Always have more than one fresh copy of your resume with you. You may do so well in the initial interview that they may invite you to meet with other members of the team who will also want a copy.
And always have a copy of your professional references (separate from your resume) with you in case they ask for them at the close of the interview.
Dress for an interview and not for the first day on the job. Even if your field allows casual wear, including jeans, wearing a suit to the interview reflects that you are taking the opportunity seriously and it shows respect to the person you are meeting.
A two-piece matching suit is always the best and safest choice. Choose conservative colors (navy, black, or dark gray). Choose a solid or subtle pattern and wool or wool blends.
Invest in one quality suit if that’s all you can afford. Men’s Wearhouse is there for a reason! If possible, shop at one store and with one salesperson. Women have known this for years! A salesperson that depends on you for repeat business will alert you to sales and will assist in choosing accessories.
Invest in the best silk tie possible. Choose something conservative that is not distracting and garish. It might also be wise NOT to wear school colors. Your interviewer may be a “Gator” and not appreciate the Georgia red and black.
Choose a long-sleeved (even in summer) white or light blue shirt that corresponds with your suit.
Belts should be high quality and match your shoes. The buckle should be discreet. Leave the Harley Davidson or NASCAR logo at home.
Don’t flash your skin. Wear dark socks that are mid-calf so nothing is visible when you sit down. Check yourself out by sitting down in a chair facing a mirror before leaving home.
Black is always a safe color. Polish or clean them the night before the interview.
Leave the bling-bling at home and don’t forget your watch! Employers want to hire people who will show up to work on time, and not wearing a watch may send the wrong message of irresponsibility. The only jewelry that is appropriate is a wedding band or cuff links. If you insist on wearing a chain, then it needs to be left underneath the shirt.
Be sure to have your hands well groomed with nails cleaned and trimmed.
Leave it at home! Many people are allergic to strong scents or just plain don’t like them. It can be overpowering in a small office. I probably have had to counsel men more than women regarding wearing less or no cologne at all.
See note above about this subject.
See note above about this subject.
Carry a leather portfolio or small briefcase with you to the interview. Always have more than one fresh copy of your resume with you. You may do so well during the initial interview that you will be invited to meet with other members of the team who may want a copy. Always have a copy of your professional references with you as well. When you are asked for references at the end of your interview, you know you have done well.
When dressing for an Atlanta area job interview, remember it is YOU, the person, who wants to be remembered and not the smiley-face tie you are wearing. Your talent and personality will get you noticed for the job you seek. The only purpose your clothes have in this is to cover your body and present you as a professional who understands the work environment.