Interviewing, especially for your first serious job, is an intimidating process. You need to know the background of the company, predict what types of questions you might be asked, and make sure your resume and references are polished. And on top of all this, there’s the question of what to wear.
Young women are judged especially harshly on their wardrobe, and they can’t just toss on a basic suit the way men can. As you prepare for that all-important interview, keep these 4 tips in mind to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward before the interview even begins.
Pay Attention To The Basics
Men can wear a basic suit for just about any occasion, but as women we’re expected to have different outfits for every event. As you plan out your first office wardrobe, then, pay attention to a few basic elements. You want pieces made from quality material, that fit well, and that suit the formality of the environment. It’s better to have fewer pieces in your wardrobe of a higher quality than to have stacks of low-quality garments that will begin to wear and look shabby quickly.
Among the basics you’ll get a lot of wear out of both while interviewing and once you’re working is a basic button down, but don’t be afraid to add some color or experiment with materials. Button downs are a wardrobe staple, but they don’t need to be boring.
Get A Better Bag
People forget all the time, but you’re expected to bring a copy of your resume to job interviews, and once you’re in your new role, you’ll need to tote an assortment of things to and from home. With that in mind, this is a good time to invest in a better bag. A classic leather tote, like those found at Portland Leather Goods is perfect for this. Leather will last for years, matches just about everything, and you can choose from an array of colors and sizes to suit your personal style.
Consider Classy Cropped Pants
Cropped pants may seem casual on the surface, but with the right cut and material, they can actually read as more formal that standard length pants, and there are several reasons for that. First, with full length pants, they need to be perfectly tailored if you want to avoid looking sloppy; just a bit too long, and suddenly your pants are dragging and catching on your shoes. Second, cropped pants create a nice sense of proportion when paired with flats and a blazer. This isn’t the 1920s – your ankles shouldn’t be cause for alarm.
The Smartest Skirt
If you’re not the sort to wear pants, especially a cropped style, to an interview, there’s nothing wrong with a simple skirt. Obviously, you don’t want anything too short, but long skirts may also seem out of place. Opt instead for a conservative, mid-length style, right around knee length. Don’t be afraid to choose any interesting color or pattern, though. The midi skirt is classic enough on its own to leave room for some creativity.
Simple, Sturdy Shoes
There’s an old saying – “clothes make the man” – but for women out on job interviews, it’s the shoes that really make a statement. The biggest problem is that there are so many choices. So, what kind should you wear? What you really want are sturdy, practical shoes that are still stylish. A nice heal is perfect, but skip the stilettoes for something chunkier that doesn’t feel like a fall risk. If you’re in a more casual field, an ankle boot or flats are also appropriate.
When interviewing, you’ll hear a lot of conflicting advice about accessories. That’s because it’s easy to mess up a great interview outfit with the wrong accessories. As you select your accent pieces, then, keep a few basic rules in mind. First, don’t wear perfume to an interview. It doesn’t matter if you have a signature scent – you don’t know if your interviewer might have a fragrance allergy or just find the scent overwhelming. The last thing you want is for your perfume to take away from your presentation.
As for other accessories, keep it simple. Many experts recommend wearing a watch since that suggests you consider punctuality to be a top priority. If you aren’t a watch person, small hoop or stud style earrings or a single bracelet are also appropriate. You want to avoid anything that’s noisy or distracting. Understated is better than a big statement.
One last note on jewelry. You may have heard that women shouldn’t wear their engagement rings when interviewing for a job. Forget that old-fashioned nonsense. It’s generally unrealistic. The fact is that if wearing a ring was going to impact your odds of getting that job, it will also impact how you’re treated once you get there – in other words, you can consider wearing your ring a litmus test that will benefit you more than it will hurt you.
Can You Keep It Casual?
Particularly with the rise of startup culture and the gig economy, you’re more likely to be faced with casual interview opportunities. But how casual is too casual? Though it depends on the circumstances, there are definitely ways to recalibrate your wardrobe. For example, if you’re interviewing for a startup, consider swapping out your blouse and trousers for a sleek jumpsuit.
If you work in a creative industry, you can also feel empowered to experiment more with your look. In those fields, how you present yourself is more likely to be a reflection of your professional skill, and there’s also more leeway. With that in mind, go ahead and wear that statement necklace or some brighter colors.
The Finishing Touches
Depending on the industry and even the region, there’s a lot of flexibility as to what you wear to your interview, but there’s one thing that’s non-negotiable: confidence. Whatever you wear, make sure it helps you feel great and then walk into the interview with your head held high. Unless you believe you can do the job and project that confidence, you won’t make it far. Your interview outfit is just the icing on the cake.