“What you wear neither defines who you are as a person nor determines your value as a human being. However, in the temporal realm of mere mortals, fair or not, people judge us by the way we look and that includes the way we dress.” – Darlene Price, President of Well Said, Inc.
People are good at noticing even the smallest imperfections, be it frayed laces, scuff marks, dirt, or wrinkled clothing. As a candidate wanting to win over an interviewer during the job interview, it’s important to present yourself with enthusiasm and confidence — and the right looks.
Besides punctuality and effective spoken communication, there’s one other thing that can help you make a positive first impression: a professional dress code. It may sound like a cliché, but looking the part can help you get the job you want.
Knowing what to wear is extremely important in forming your employer’s perception of you, as your appearance is the first thing you communicate to others. After all, having a credible appearance reinforces your capability to perform well on the job. Credible prospects will always seem like the more viable choice.
Researching Your Wardrobe
Contrary to what other people think, the 3-piece suit isn’t always the standard attire for interviews. Some offices may require employees to wear suits and heels, but some accept smart casual attire.
Study the company’s website and social media posts, figure out their working environment and dress code, and reflect it in your presenting image.
For example, when you’re applying for a traditional corporate industry, you can’t go wrong with…
- a professional formal suit for men.
- blouses and skirts of the appropriate length for women.
Dress Code: The Specifics
Although there are no hard rules in choosing what to wear, there are certain blunders that could keep you from getting your dream job:
1. Busy Prints or Bright Colors
According to Harris Interactive’s recent study, wearing the right color can start you off on the right foot during an interview.
Wearing flashy colors like red, yellow, orange, and pink is a classic “no-no” in interviews. They might attract attention, but they don’t necessarily elicit feelings of trust and commitment.
Conservative colors like brown, dark blue, black, gray, and white are the safest bets when attending an interview. They communicate glamour and inspire confidence, especially in a business setting.
2. Too Much Accessorizing
Accessorizing adds a little individuality to your job interview outfit, but overdoing it takes the attention away from you and from what you’re saying.
Carefully select accessories to make a bolder statement without overpowering the whole presenting package.
Avoid distracting jewelry or accessories like dangling earrings, clanging bracelets, and watches. Instead, stick to small stud earrings, basic gold or silver scuff, pendants, and lockets.
For men, a watch and a nice belt are enough to sport a professional look.
3. Revealing Clothes
Whatever the position, never wear anything that shows too much skin.
That means no tight-fitting and skimpy outfits. Skirts and dresses that reveal more than what’s conventionally appropriate might make you seem provocative and defiant.
This applies to guys, as well. Always wear an undershirt below your blazer or formal jacket, and button up your long sleeve shirt to the top.
Finishing the Look
Sporting a decent and appropriate attire isn’t enough in establishing a professional appearance. You need grooming habits to finish the look.
Before meeting with your interviewer, check off all the items in this list:
- Hair should be clean, trimmed, and neatly combed. Get a haircut that will look good to potential employers.
- Beards and moustaches should be cleanly shaved. Trim them aptly if you don’t want to paint yourself with the image of a slacker.
- You can’t go wrong with a pair of leather shoes. Keep them polished to leave a positive first impression.
- Your hands can also talk for you, especially when shaking hands with somebody, so keep your fingernails clean and well-manicured.
- Less is always more when it comes to applying makeup for ladies. Keep it natural-looking.
- Avoid wearing sunglasses and caps in an interview. They make you look like you’re hiding something from your potential employer.
Wrapping It Up
Credibility is not only channeled in your speech skills, but also through your choice of clothing.
Failing to follow the right dress code in interviews means missing a possibly life-changing job opportunity.
Dressing the part is what makes employers think you’ll fit right in at their office. Do advanced research to carefully plan for your interview outfit, then prepare to present yourself neatly to advance your job hunt.
Proper grooming habits complete the picture. Your primary goal is to project a positive image. This requires personal care and styling to work in full harmony.
Impress your potential employer with your wardrobe, and soon, you may just have the chance to impress him with your work as a newly-hired employee.
Rick Enrico is the CEO and Founder of SlideGenius, Inc., a global presentation design agency. He regularly publishes expert presentation tips on the SlideGenius blog. He currently oversees an experienced team of designers, software developers, and marketing professionals that specialize in creating custom corporate presentations and cloud publishing applications. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.