By Kirby Adams
Courier-Journal, June 29, 2017 —
One of the major reasons a job interview is so stressful? Before you open your mouth, you are being judged on how you are dressed — and first impressions can be lasting impressions about the type of employee you might be.
It may not be fair, but its reality.
Whether you’re a college grad searching for your first “grown-up” gig or you’re headed back into the workforce after sitting a few years out, you need to give your interview wardrobe some serious thought.
Is a suit too much?
Even if a company is known to have a casual dress code, they may expect you to dress up a little for your first interview.
“If you want to get the job, your choice of what to wear for a job interview should match or be slightly dressier than the dress code of the company,” said Joanna Powers, general merchandise Manager for Feminine Apparel at Von Maur.
For example, if the normal work attire of the company is business casual, it’s OK to wear a suit to impress. If the normal work attire is casual, it’s OK to wear a business casual outfit to impress, as well.
Although not every company would require a suit, you still want to look pulled together and polished.
Powers recommends job seekers, “research what the company’s management team wears and dress to that level. It is better to be overdressed in a suit than underdressed.”
If you know someone that works at the company, ask them what they wear. If you don’t, call the Human Resources department of the company and ask them for a recommendation.
Neat as a pin
Nothing gives away the lack of attention to detail more than wrinkled or dirty clothing. That goes for your hair, fingernails, underarms, and breath, too.
Brush your teeth, wear deodorant and make sure your clothes are clean and neat — even if this isn’t your usual routine.
“Always make sure your outfit is ironed, doesn’t have any stains and shoes are polished,” says Kristen Anderson, general merchandise manager of Men’s and Children’s at Von Maur. “These details tell me a lot about a candidate and I always look for them.”
Select clothing that fits properly. If it’s too tight, too short, or too large, you’ll appear scruffy. The bonus of wearing a great outfit — you’ll be more comfortable and relaxed in your interview.
A few days before the interview, put on the whole outfit while you are at home to be sure it’s appropriate. Make sure that you can walk and sit comfortably in what you plan to wear.
What do your shoes say about you?
Don’t forget about your shoes.
Your overall appearance won’t quite have the desired impact if you wear a great, tailor-made suit with a pair of tattered and dirty shoes.
Women – A good rule of thumb is to avoid open toed shoes or sling back shoes, opting for a traditional pump or flat. For more conservative companies, you may also want to avoid extreme nail polish, makeup and handbags.
Men – Basic formal loafers or lace shoes are best. Make sure your shoes and belt complement or match.
The fragrance factor
Go lightly with perfume and cologne. You may feel it smells divine but your interviewer may not. While you don’t want to show up stinky or sweaty (give yourself enough lead-time to arrive with time to relax), some people may be allergic to fragrance or just find your particular brand a “turn-off.”
A few more tips from the experts at Von Maur
- Basic colors and patterns are best as you don’t want your outfit to outshine you!
- Avoid wearing denim or active wear type outfits.
- Men – go with a suit, collared shirt with a tie and matching dress shoes. If the company is more casual, you could forgo the tie but still wear a sport coat and matching dress slacks.
- Well-tailored suit separates in either a gray or navy are best.
- Women – avoid too short of skirts and low cut tops.
- You can’t go wrong with a pencil skirt and blouse or a great sheath dress if you don’t need to wear a full jacket and pant.
- If you want to invest in a few key pieces you will still be able to wear after you get the job – a classic sheath dress in black or navy, a tailored pant, and classic white blouse and a quality pair of classic black pumps.
- A suit jacket is always a nice touch to complete a more professional look.
- Don’t forget to pay attention to your accessories and shoes – they complete the look and can distract from the outfit if they aren’t polished and professional as well.
Now that you’re dressed for the part, all that’s left is to dazzle your interviewer with your intelligence, confidence and a winning smile — go land that job