When you go in for an interview, the visual impression you make will wordlessly communicate a lot about you: how well you can put things together, whether or not you pay attention to detail, and how self-aware you are (to name a few). In addition, if competition is stiff (as it is these days), employers may resort to appearance to make their final decision between otherwise equal candidates. Think of your appearance as a sort of visual resume!
While individuality is a good thing, expressing yourself through appropriate clothing ups your chances for success considerably.
Here are some tips for interviews and the workplace, and how to dress for success.
1. The Right Mindset
The first thing to do is get in the right mindset. What are you trying to convey? What skills does this job demand? Unless you are applying for a job in the fashion industry and are specifically trying to show your skills, your prospective employer is probably not interested in an over-the-top, super-creative ensemble. Instead, get into the mindset of the job and dress accordingly. Does this job require you to be organized? Outgoing? Behind-the-scenes? Think about what’s expected of you as you put your outfit together.
2. Get a Feel for the Workplace
Find out beforehand if the place where you’re applying for a job is formal, casual, or somewhere in between. Not all offices are dressy. Check out their website and get a feel for how people in the office dress and act. Formal offices will likely have a formal website; a more casual place should project that sense from its photos and web design. The content on the website will be written in a way that reflects the tone of the office, too.
3. What’s the Position?
The general consensus is: the more high-powered and exacting the job, the more formal the attire for the interview. Secretaries, tech supporters, and similar positions often require just simple slacks and blouse or collared shirt. But if you are applying for a job in finance, management, or something comparable, then a suit – and a nice one – is expected. Your hair should be carefully styled, too, if you are hoping for a high-powered position.
4. Don’t Reveal Too Much
An interview is no time for a slip or bra strap to show, nor is it a great time to show off your hairy chest or your cleavage. Your goal is not to distract, but to engage the interviewer.
If you feel like you’re faking it, you might not be applying for the right job. You will be pretty uncomfortable if you have to dress uncomfortably every day of work! So make sure there’s a personal element to your attire. And good luck!