The objective of any job interview is to focus on who you are and how your talents and skills will benefit the company. Regardless of how confident you are and how much time you have spent in preparing, there’s no denying the fact that interviews are just plain stressful. When you do finally land that face-to-face for a coveted career opportunity, you want to look your best.
Why what You Wear is Important
Deciding what to wear is an important part of your job interview prep process. The power of first impressions is significant. When you take the time to select an outfit, as soon as you walk through the door and without saying a single word, you’re telling the interviewer several important things.
First, when you turn up looking polished and “pulled together” you’re displaying confidence. Second, by dressing appropriately for the company where you’ll be working if hired, you’re showing the interviewer you understand the organization’s culture. Third, frequently interviewers and HR personnel assume the attention to detail you expend on your appearance will be applied to the duties and responsibilities of the position you are applying for.
How to Decode Dress Codes
Once you’ve been granted an interview, often the confirmation email, in addition to general instructions, will mention the company’s dress code. Today’s work environment is constantly changing. While it’s true companies in most industry sectors are relaxing their dress codes, organizations generally remain traditional or conservative. The challenge is to stick to the guidelines while being true to yourself. Here are some dress codes you might encounter.
Corporate: The look is classic and simple – a grey, navy or black suit (pants, skirt or dress) made from fabric with a minimal pattern and paired with a white or pastel blouse.
Business professional: The look is still traditional but not as “formal” as corporate – pants/skirt/dress can be in a range of colours and patterns while jackets/blazers don’t have to match.
Business casual: The look is a creative, more relaxed take on the business professional – stick with full length pants and tops (jackets and blouses).
Tips for Dressing for Your Job Interview
Research the company. Do your research. It will not only help you prepare to answer questions, it will also give you clues about the company’s culture and work environment. To find out what their dress code is like look for pictures and/or videos of staff members, meetings, etc.
Overdressing is better. If you’re not exactly sure what an organization’s dress code is, it’s always better to overdress for the interview. Arriving at the interview in an outfit that is too casual for the company’s culture could send the “wrong” message.
Get your outfit ready. Decide in advance what you will be wearing – clothes and accessories. Ensure everything is clean, in good repair, fits properly, and is not wrinkled.
Keep the focus on you. Choose clothing and accessories that are simple. Bold prints or bright colours might draw the interviewer’s attention to what you’re wearing instead of being focused on you. The same applies to your makeup, jewelry and nail polish – neutrals are preferable.