No matter what stage you are in your career, you need to dress to impress whenever you’re granted an interview. That might mean something different depending on your career status and the field you’re interviewing in, but the overarching point you should keep in mind when you select your attire is this: look like you care. Look like you put some thought into how you present yourself, because after all, if you don’t care enough to look nice and together when you’re on your best behavior, then why should a company think you will care enough to do your best on any random Tuesday after a few months into the job?
Here are some tips for how to make sure you’re making the right first impression on the hiring manager. Show them through what you’re wearing how perfect you would be for the job, no matter what that job is.
In the past, the basic rule was that if you had a job interview, you better either buy a suit or make sure yours was dry-cleaned and ready to go. But times have changed, and it’s really okay to match your attire to the personality of the company.
For example, you don’t want to show up to a casual workplace in a suit and tie—you’ll look like you don’t really understand the culture, and they won’t be able to picture you adequately within their company. Try instead to focus on making sure you look clean and professional, despite the more laid-back style. Dark, clean, and crisp denim always works, with tasteful (again, clean) sneakers or sandals or flats, and a tidy, well-fitting top. Don’t bust out a concert t-shirt or anything, but a wrinkle-free polo works.
You’re still not going to need a suit and tie, but you might have to trade your nice top in for one with buttons. Avoid jeans and go with a casual dress (one with sleeves, please), a skirt, corduroys, or other slacks instead. Keep your shoes relaxed, but elegant—nothing you would wear to the gym, say. Maybe add a bit of a heel.
3. Executive Casual
You still don’t absolutely need a tie in this situation (but certainly no one would think it out of place), but a jacket or blazer is often called for. Definitely no jeans. Keep the skirts or slacks on the dressier side, and go with the more elegant shoes—pumps for the ladies; something leather for the men. Add a pop of color or pattern in your shirt that will jazz up the monotony of your suit separates.
4. Serious Business
Okay. Here come the suits. Gents, here come the ties. You can wear your more colorful suits, darker ones, or subtle patterns— bright colors are fine here. Just because you need to look professional doesn’t mean you can’t have a personality. Keep the tops crisp and well-tailored, the heels closed-toe, and legs covered with hosiery or tights.
5. Boardroom Big Shot
In the highest stakes situations, it’s best to go for the gold. Grey or navy suits for the men, with ties and white dress shirts. The highest quality accessories are needed here—as neat and unobtrusive as possible. Ladies, keep your skirt lengths two-fingers above the knee or longer and stick with black tights and shoes.
Remember to make sure you’re comfortable. And don’t make it look like you’re dressing up from Mommy and Daddy’s closet. Keep it simple, not too flashy, and you’ll do just fine. And, as always, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
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