Dress to impress. This phrase often evokes a sense of panic and fear. But it doesn’t have to include the dreaded three-piece suit and shiny, uncomfortable shoes.
Before you start stressing over how to put together the perfect outfit for your next job interview, take a deep breath…and this advice.
Dress to be comfortable.
Comfort and style can go hand in hand. That doesn’t mean showing up in sneakers or abstract-patterned leggings, of course. Choose clothes that not only look professional but also fit your body. If your pants are too tight, you’ll be squirming in your seat. If your blouse is too big, you may need to constantly adjust it.
Remember, those around you can tell when you’re uncomfortable. You want to exude confidence during your interview, so be sure to wear clothes in which you’re comfortable and that fit properly. Ladies, if you’re not into the whole skirt scene, dress pants are also acceptable.
Consider the company.
Dress for success. When doing your research on the company before heading to the interview, try to determine employee attire and mirror that if appropriate. You may not want to show up in that three-piece suit to an interview for a position as a sports nutritionist. A nice pair of khakis and starched shirt may be more fitting (not to mention more comfortable).
Check for stains.
Stains on your clothes can leave an unforgettable impression on the interviewer. Be sure to inspect your choice of attire before donning it to your next interview. You may not have noticed that oil stain from the salad dressing that dripped onto the dress pants you wore on your last date.
If your finances are tight, consider shopping at thrift stores for reasonably priced dress clothes. However, make sure you thoroughly inspect any pieces you plan to purchase. You may have found the perfect top—a formfitting blouse in your favorite color—but it might have a spaghetti sauce stain on the front pocket.
Spit out the gum.
Never, ever show up to an interview (or any meeting) looking like a cow chewing cud. Major turnoff. Nobody likes bad breath, but chewing gum is distracting. Instead of popping in a piece on the way to your interview, suck on a mint during the car ride. Just be sure it’s gone before you start shaking hands.
Add your personality.
Do you have a signature accessory or color? Let your style shine, but keep it simple. There’s no harm in adding a nice dress scarf or fun bowtie to your outfit. Maybe you have a favorite pair of shoes that makes you stand out. Consider using one accessory as a conversation starter.
If you wear jewelry, shy away from large hoops or dangling earrings and flashy necklaces. Bracelets are also distracting—they clang on chairs and tabletops and you may find yourself subconsciously playing with them if you get nervous. Be sure to remove any jewelry from facial piercings, as well.
Get a second opinion.
If you’re looking to dress to impress, consider seeking a second opinion. What you think looks perfect for your elevator pitch may not be the best choice for a professional interview. Ask your roommate or close friend for their feedback. Something as simple as the color of your shoes may throw the whole outfit out of whack.
Don’t forget your smile!
When you dress to impress, whether you’re wearing a smile can make or break the experience. Smiles are contagious, and they radiate self-confidence and satisfaction. Let your interviewer know you’re ready to own the job with a sturdy handshake and enthusiastic smile at the beginning and close of your interview.
Planning your attire isn’t the only preparation you need to create a successful job interview. Check out these other tips on how to land your dream job.
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