We spend days agonizing over our resumes and applications. We spend hours practicing our interview questions and researching companies. Yet, when it comes to dressing for an interview, we often spend little to no time selecting our interview outfit. What you wear to an interview speaks volumes before you’ve even uttered your first greeting. It’s important that your interview fashion not only resonates with the company you wish to work for but also that it doesn’t distract the interviewer from all the wonderful things you have to say. Here are 5 of the worst mistakes you could make when choosing an outfit for an interview.
I’m not just talking about ladies here. I’ve seen men dressed for an interview wearing either a shirt or pants a few sizes too small. There is a big difference between slim fit and male jeggings. For women, skirts or dresses no shorter than knee length and a conservative neckline is best. Halter tops, spaghetti straps, and tube tops are ALWAYS inappropriate. Interview Fashion can set the tone for the whole interview.
Also, be wary of the accidental reveal. Men, make sure you wear a belt. There’s nothing more embarrassing than bending down to pick up a dropped piece of paper and showing a would be boss your backside. For women, it is often the neckline. A neckline may look sensible, but when you bend over, the top hangs far too low. Sometimes, it’s a skirt slit that goes too high when you sit. Your interview outfit should be well fitted and in perfect condition. Put on your interview outfit and move around in front of a mirror. Sit, bend, raise your hands, and do all the things you’d expect to in an interview. This is a great way to check for anything from small holes to bra straps peeking out. If it bunches, it is probably too big. It the fabric stretches, it’s probably too small.
The Outfit of Flare
In today’s competitive market, it’s natural to want to stand out. However, wearing your lime green custom sneakers or bedazzled handbag is not what you want to be remembered for. Trust me on this one. It’s nice to have a piece of clothing or accessory that shows your personality, if it’s tastefully done. Limit it to one piece and nothing that is distracting or offensive. What I mean by tasteful, is maybe a tie in your favorite color or a floral blouse under a blazer. A good piece of advice when dealing with color is to pick one item and use neutrals to build the rest of the overall interview fashion . So, if you wear a power red blouse, choose it under a tan or black suit with neutral shoes. A tasteful piece of flare makes you look less sterile and more likable. It can even be an icebreaker if the interviewer shares your favorite color.
I once interviewed a young woman with a row of studded pierces along one half of her upper lip. I could not remember a word of our 20-min interview. I spent the entire time distracted by how on earth the rings stayed in there and what special tools she must need to clean the inside of her mouth. Years later, I still remember her but I have no idea what position she interviewed for. Other examples of flashy pieces of clothing to avoid are: shiny shirts, shiny ties, shiny suits, glittery makeup, stenciled makeup/eyeliners, any loud makeup for that matter, animal print, neon colors, large dangly earrings, more than 3 pieces of jewelry, and flashy shoes.
In today’s tech and entrepreneurial workplace, it’s not uncommon to see employees humming about the office in t-shirts and flip flops. When researching your company’s culture, you’ll get a sense for how casual the work environment is. While you can look forward to wearing weekend wear to work once you’ve landed the job, don’t make the mistake of showing up to the interview in flip flops. When you dress too casually for an interview, you give the impression that you don’t care, or as if this opportunity is not so important to you. Wearing wrinkled or dirty clothes implies laziness on your part and a lack of respect for the person interviewing you. Frankly, it makes you look sloppy and gives the interviewer a negative first impression. If you are interviewing at a very casual work place and you don’t want to come off as too corporate for the position, then perhaps skip the blazer. Let’s just steer clear of showing up in shorts and sunglasses.
It’s also good practice to double check your grooming. You’ll be shaking a lot of hands, so make sure you don’t have dirty fingernails or dry, scaly hands. Women, make sure your nail polish isn’t chipped. Men, give your face a good once over. If you have a beard, make sure it’s well trimmed and double check all your facial hair for that matter to make sure it’s properly groomed. For women, make sure your makeup is where it should be and there are no stray marks or dark orange lines along your jaw. Also, double check to make sure your hairstyle is securely in place and your bangs aren’t falling over your eyes. It could cause you to fidget during an interview, which comes across as insecure or nervous.
Also, steer clear of strong perfumes and body sprays. Although you want to smell clean and fresh, you don’t want to your scent to clear the room. There is a good chance you won’t land the job, if you give your interviewer a headache. You also want to check your jewelry and glasses to make sure they are clean. It can be pretty embarrassing to have a dried and crusty ketchup stain on your wristwatch.
Granted, this one doesn’t always apply but when it does, it could cost you the job. If you are interviewing for an accounting position at Anne Klein, it may not be the best idea to wear a Fossil watch to an interview. It makes your carefully planned speech, outlining your passion for Anne Klein and deep desire to work with best brand in retail seem a little disingenuous. I’m not suggesting you go and buy an article of clothing from the company, although it’s not a bad idea if you can afford it. I’m simply suggesting that you at the very least, skip the watch all together.