You woke up in the middle of the night to edit the 26th line of your resume. You filled out the 12 page application after finding it in the most obscure place on the company website. You may or may not have had multiple anxiety attacks while you waited to hear if you’d been considered. & then you get the call. or the email. or the Skype. or the snail mail. That precious little nugget of hope that you may be on your way to landing your dream job – you’ve secured an interview. [Insert sigh of relief here] Now…what do you wear? Panic not, my friends. We’re covering appropriate interview attire today, from head to toe.
Suit/Dress/Slacks – Whether you’re fresh out of undergrad or heading to your 15th interview with 2 graduate degrees under your belt, your fashionable hiney best be in a suit. FYI aformentioned suit does not equal trousers & a blazer. I don’t care if you’re interviewing at the nearest fast food chain or for a senior position on the hill, wearing a suit tells your potential employer that you take them seriously, you take your potential place of employment seriously, & that you take yourself seriously. Suit up, ladies. Pant suits & skirt suits are preferred – like I said, I would stay away from throwing a blazer over a dress & calling it a day. Even if it is a suit dress. The answer is no.
For this time of year, I suggest either a navy blue or grey suit with nude or black heels, respectively. For more formal or conservative environments I suggest a black suit. Always.
Footwear – I suggest a solid pair of heels – whether they’re brand spanking new or your old faithfuls (that have recently been polished) throw those puppies on. Nothing says ‘frumptown party of one’ than flats + suit. That being said, if I catch you in a heel over 3 inches you’d better run. & don’t give me any of that, “I can’t find a pair of cute heels under 4 inches.” Email me. We’ll do this together.
Nails – Light pink, nude, or bare. I don’t care if you’ve dedicated your life to Essie’s Chinchilly, like yours truly. This interview is not the appropriate venue. But it’s my lucky color! Then put it on yo toes. Make sure that they’re properly manicured, whether you do that yourself or head over to your favorite salon for a little pre-interview pampering. Assume your interviewer will be looking at your hands: the initial handshake, potentially needing to take notes or fill out paperwork, appropriately folded in your lap like the classy dame that you are, tapping nervously on the biggest conference table you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Scratch that, reverse.
Makeup – This is not, I repeat NOT the time to ‘be brave’ & wear that bold red lipstick you just purchased from Chanel. No red. No oxblood, no wine, no purple, no Nars Schiap. How about a nice neutral? Like a light pink or a dusty nude. How lovely. Taking issue with this one? Think about that favorite red of yours on your teeth. Game. Over. Go with a neutral/dewy daytime makeup look. A little bronzer & mascara can take you a long way. & If you must with the eyeliner…you must, but let’s keep it simple with a liquid line on the top sans cat eye, shall we? In a natural color, thank you very much.
Now onto a few of my favorite Dos & Don’ts
Do wear color. A plum blouse or an emerald necklace adds the right amount of color without being overwhelming.
Do practice sitting if you are wearing a skirt to ensure that everything stays where it is expected to. Think this one sounds silly? The last thing you want to happen is have your skirt rip or ride up when you’re seated. Practice sitting.
Don’t experiment with color & wear cobalt blue suit separates or anything with a bold tuxedo stripe. This isn’t a Michael Kors runway show.
[Do wear color. Don’t experiment with color. See the difference here?]
Don’t bathe in perfume before your interview. A spritz in your mane & on your wrists is p.l.e.n.t.y.
Do wear your lucky necklace/pinky ring/earrings/cami that always gets your through.
Don’t dress provocatively. Shirts that gape, low cut cowl necks, skirts that are too tight, & heels that are too high all fall into this category. If you’re second guessing yourself your interviewer will too. Turn yoself around & go change.
Do wear your hair up if you’re anything like me & will constantly play with it. Get those locks outcha face so you can focus on the important things at hand.
Don’t wear patterned tights or bright lipstick. Accentuating these areas is not ideal for your first impression.
Do wear a patterned blouse as your statement piece.
Regarding the interview process itself
Do come prepared with notes.
Do research your prospective position & the organization you are interviewing for before you’re in the interview room.
Don’t bring food or drink with you. Why not? Let me count the ways: dealing with finding the bathroom, staining your perfectly pressed blouse, bad breath, getting food stuck in your teeth, & adding another distraction moments before your interview. Just don’t.
Do follow up with a Thank You note. This shows the interviewer that you’re professional, you appreciated the time they took out of their day, & that you are dedicated from the start.
Don’t play with your phone, chew gum, twirl your hair, & for the love of God do not show up late.
Do grab coffee on a day before your interview to scope out the area & the attire of the people in the building.
Necessary disclaimer: The above are all personal tips & tricks that I have used in the past. By no means am I suggesting that you will be hired or otherwise by following these guidelines. I am, however, suggesting that dressing appropriately is a form of politeness & in my experience the aforementioned are all appropriate forms of dress. These tips are also geared towards a more formal business workplace. In a more design driven environment it may be more acceptable, & even encouraged, to let your fashion flag fly & show your creative side.
Questions? Email me at email@example.com