Here Are Some Tips for Women on What to Wear to a Job Interview
One of the best parts of the job hunting process is getting an invite to the job interview. This shows that on paper, you are good enough for the job. All you need to do now is impress the interviewing panel in person during the interview and the job is yours.
Before you walk into the interview room, remember that the interviewers have never seen you before. Sure, they know something about you from your resume, but this is not enough for them to form a good enough perception of you. Therefore, the interview is your only chance to make a good and lasting first impression.
A big part of making a great first impression depends on your appearance, and therefore, you need to make sure you are dressed properly as you head to the interview.
Dressing properly during a job interview presents you as a professional, shows that you respect both yourself and those interviewing you, demonstrates your understanding of your potential employer’s corporate culture, and shows your level of interest in the job.
Now, of course, simply dressing appropriately doesn’t guarantee that you will actually get the job. You also have to know how to answer common interview questions, get your body language on check, know all the important information about the company, know how to articulate your thoughts, and so on.
Still, proper dressing is a crucial part of the puzzle. You might be qualified for the job but still miss out on getting hired because your dressing style portrayed you as an unprofessional character who lacks seriousness.
So, as a woman looking to create a good impression and stand out from the competition, what should you wear to the job interview?
Well, the answer to this question will largely depend on the type of job you are applying for, the industry, the company itself, and so on.
Still, there are some general tips that will work for you despite the type of job you are applying for. Below, let’s take a look at some of the things you need to keep in mind when choosing what to wear to a job interview.
Grooming plays a significant role in your overall appearance, and therefore, it is important to make sure that you are well groomed when going for a job interview.
After all, what good is wearing a formal skirt suit to a job interview if your multicolored hairstyle looks more suited to a rock concert than a job interview?
Grooming refers to things you do to keep yourself clean and presentable. Grooming touches on things like your face, your hair, your nails, how you smell, your skin, and so on. Below are some pointers to help you ensure that you got your grooming to a T before your job interview.
- Your hair is a huge part of your appearance as a woman, and therefore, it is important to visit the salon a day or two before your job interview and get your hair done. Get a simple, neat, and professional looking hairdo. Avoid going for a multi-colored hairdo. Sure, it might look good on you, but in a job interview, it will make you look like a teenager who doesn’t know what she wants in life.
- Avoid too much make up. Too much makeup makes you look unprofessional and can be distracting for the interviewers. If possible, go for makeup that closely accents your natural skin color, and avoid lipstick shades that are too shouting.
- Make sure you nails look neat. While it is normal for women to wear their nails long, don’t allow yours to get too long. You don’t want to appear like someone who cannot handle a simple task like typing on a computer keyboard or filing documents because of your excessively long nails. It’s advisable to go for a nail polish color that is subtle rather than shouting. If your nail polish is chipped, reapply it before the interview so to ensure your nails look neat and tidy.
- While it is good to smell nice during the job interview, don’t overdo the cologne. Some people can be highly sensitive to smells, and you don’t want the interviewer to remember you as the candidate who had that irritating cologne. Therefore, the best approach is to keep your cologne or perfume subtle.
The good thing with your dress code for job interviews as a woman is that you have lots of looks to go for. Below are some looks that will be appropriate for most job interviews.
Bring Out Your Trusted Navy Blue Blazer
As a professional woman, I am willing to bet that you already have one or two navy blue blazers in your wardrobe. If you don’t, it’s time to get some.
The good thing with these blazers is that they are very versatile. You can wear them with almost anything and they will give you a sassy yet professional and polished look. You can wear the navy blue blazer with a button-down shirt, with a simple blouse, with a dress, with a khaki shirt, you name it.
When worn with a button-down shirt or a simple blouse, you can pair it with matching slacks, dress pants, khaki pants, and so on.
If you are going for a casual interview, you can even pair the navy blue blazer with a pair of dark wash jeans. With the navy blue blazer, you have virtually unlimited options while still keeping your look professional.
For those who feel that the navy blue blazer is too formal, you can go for a less formal blazer, such as a bright colored blazer, a chic, lapel-less blazer, or an interesting print blazer.
There is nothing wrong with going for a unique look with an edgy blazer, provided you don’t overdo the rest of your outfit.
Get a Khaki Blazer for a Menswear Inspired Look
Just because you are a woman doesn’t mean that you cannot borrow inspiration from the other gender, and a good way to do that is to get a khaki blazer.
Just like the navy blue blazer I talked about earlier, the khaki blazer is quite a versatile clothing accessory to have in your interview wardrobe.
You can wear the khaki blazer with a simple blouse or a button-down shirt, and then pair it up with navy blue bottoms or a matching skirt. If you are going for a casual interview, pair the khaki blazer with dark wash jeans.
When wearing the khaki blazer with a button-down shirt, you can go for the basic button-down shirt, or find one with some interesting detail on the collar. With such a shirt, you can even nail an elegant look without having to wear a necklace.
Aside from the navy blue skirt, you can also pair your menswear inspired khaki blazer with a black pencil skirt. Pairing the very formal black pencil skirt with a khaki blazer gives you a professional yet relaxed look to keep your confidence high during the interview.
Play Around With Button-Down Shirts
Most women assume that button-down shirts are boring, and therefore, do not give them much consideration when it comes to choosing their interview outfits.
However, button-down shirts are considered to be boring because most women limit themselves to the basic white and blue button-down shirts. Instead of sticking to these boring versions of the button-down short, you can experiment with more unconventional colors and fabrics.
When experimenting with button-down shirts, the one thing you should keep in mind is modesty.
Make sure that your button-down shirt has a modest neckline that doesn’t show your cleavage and keeps your bra covered at all times. Unless your button-down shirt was designed to be worn untucked, it is advisable to keep it tucked in.
Find Blouses With Interesting Details
Just like button-down shirts, blouses to be worn during job interviews do not have to be boring. Shop for blouses that have interesting details, and pair them with slacks or a skirt for that elegant yet confident look.
When pairing a blouse with a skirt, go for simple black pencil skirt or a skirt with an interesting fabric.
The point is to achieve a business look without necessarily being boring. Alternatively, you can add a skinny waist belt to make your blouse pop. You can also consider bolstering up the look with an edgy blazer.
Combine a Black Dress With Tights for a Classic Look
The black dress is another piece that every woman should have in their wardrobe.
This dress gives a simple yet refined business look. Ideally, you should go for a black dress that is neither too long nor too short, just about the length of your knees. A dress that is tailored to fit your body perfectly will give you a professional look that still doesn’t look too formal.
For an even cooler and classic look, combine your black dress with a pair of textured tights.
However, the tights should not be shouting. Go for a pattern that is subtle enough to accentuate, rather than distract from the black dress. Avoid fishnet pattern tights. These do not belong in the office. Finally, don a pair of black heels to complete the look.
Combine Your Black Dress Pants With a Sweater
Black dress pants are another item of clothing that has come to be seen as boring, yet it is a very versatile piece that can save the day on a number of occasions, including during a job interview, and therefore, I’d recommend having a couple of these in your wardrobe.
The good thing about black slacks is that they can be worn with just about anything while still keeping you looking business-like.
While people ordinarily pair their black slacks with a blazer, you can achieve a business casual look by pairing your black dress pants with a sweater. To make your look even more special, go for a sweater with some interesting stripes or patterns.
Experiment With a Statement Dress
Just because you need to present yourself as a professional during the job interview doesn’t mean that you should only dress in dull colors. There is nothing wrong with going for some bit of color with a statement dress. You can find something such as a deep red or muted turquoise dress.
The best part about such statement dresses is that you don’t even need to worry about accentuating the dress with jewelry or other accessories. The dress is enough by itself. If your statement dress is brightly colored, however, you should keep the rest of your outfit modest. Pair up your statement dress with a nice looking pair of black ballet flats or black heels and you’re good to go.
One thing to keep in mind when experimenting with a statement dress is to keep your outfit appropriate. Make sure the dress is not too short, and avoid low-cut, revealing necklines that might expose your cleavage or bra.
Combine a Simple Blouse and a V-Neck Sweater
Another way to achieve a versatile interview look is to combine a V-neck sweater with a simple blouse or a button down top. You can then complete the look with a formal skirt or black dress pants.
If you are attending a casual interview, or interviewing with a startup, you can pair the V-neck sweater and blouse with dark wash jeans or khaki pants.
The best thing about combining a simple blouse with a V-neck sweater is that you can achieve a limitless variety of looks. If you have about three V-neck sweaters and three button-downs or blouses, you can mix and match them to achieve 9 different interview-friendly looks.
What’s even better is that the V-neck sweater and blouse combination can be appropriately dressed down with a wide variety of pants or skirts.
Show Your Fun Side With a Print Cardigan
Just because you are going to job interview doesn’t mean that you should be plain and boring. You can still show your fun side while maintaining a professional look, and one way to do that is to wear a print cardigan.
Provided you don’t overdo it by going for prints that are too flashy or too bright, a print cardigan is perfect for spicing up your interview outfit. Print cardigans work especially well if you are interviewing for a position that doesn’t require you to work in a formal office environment.
If you decide to go for this look, however, it is advisable to keep the rest of your outfit simple. Wearing a print cardigan while the rest of your outfit looks flashy can result in a chaotic look that might not be very appropriate for a job interview.
The shoes your wear to your job interview are just as important as the clothes you wear. While shoes might not be very visible to the interviewers, they have an impact on how you walk. Imagine walking into an interview room with a wobbly gait because you chose a pair of heels that you cannot walk comfortably in.
Ideally, for interviews, you should go with low to medium heeled (not more than 3 inches) official shoes.
Sure, six inch heels look good on you, but they are more suited to a night out or a date with your significant other than a job interview.
Low to medium heeled shoes also give you a posture that looks more professional and confident – which is the kind of image you want to present to your interviewers.
It is advisable to stick with closed, dark or neutral colored shoes. While open-toed, brightly colored might also look good on you, they don’t really give off the professional vibe.
Aside from low to medium heeled shoes, flats will also work well in interview settings.
However, you should avoid footwear like sneakers, sandals, sandals, Eskimo boots, flip-flops, and so on. These are a no-no for interviews.
JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES
Most women like wearing jewelry and other accessories to complement their look. When it comes to job interviews, however, it is advisable to keep wear as little jewelry and accessories as you can.
Too much jewelry can be distracting for the interviewers. Imagine trying to explain something using hand gestures, only to have the dozen bracelets on your hands jingling and making so much noise that the interviewers cannot hear what you are saying.
This is why you should avoid unnecessary jewelry and accessories. Avoid bangles and bracelets. Avoid big, dangling earrings, and if you have multiple piercings on your ears, just stick to one pair of earrings.
Use subtle accessories to hold your hair in place, instead of using dozens of hairpins or hair clips that are too obvious. If you have tattoos, it is advisable to keep them covered during the interview, since some interviewers might judge your tattoos harshly.
Ensure your handbag matches and complements your outfit and gives you a powerful, professional look. If your documents do not fit inside your handbag, carry them inside a folder, instead of a paper bag or envelop. Having a folder makes you look more organized.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN DRESSING FOR JOB INTERVIEW SUCCESS
Aside from the above tips, below are some other factors to keep in mind when considering what to wear to your job interview.
- Do your homework: While the tips discussed above will work in majority of situations, it is also important to keep in mind that every company is different. What is appropriate for one company might not be appropriate for another. Therefore, the best way is to make sure you are dressed appropriately for the interview is to do some research about the company and find out what the company’s dress code For instance, you could visit the company’s website and check to see whether there are any photos or videos of the company’s employees and how they are dressed. This will give you a good idea of appropriate dress code for the company, and you can match your dressing accordingly. Alternatively, if you have contacts at the company, you could ask them what the company’s dress code is.
- Err on the side of caution: It is better to find out that you were too cautious with your dressing than to find out you dressed too casually for the company’s liking. For instance, it is better to be formally dressed when interviewing with a company that has a casual dress code, than to be casually dressed during an interview with a company that doesn’t allow casual dressing. Therefore, if you find yourself having a hard time deciding what to wear to an interview, it is better to err on the side of caution and go with a formal outfit.
- The devil is in the details: Wearing a suit to an interview won’t do much to improve your first impression if the suit is ill-fitting, wrinkled, ripped, or stained. Therefore, you need to make sure that your appearance is well polished. Make sure you hair is well done, make sure you do not have a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, make sure your makeup is well done, and so on.
- Keep it simple: While your outfit will obviously help you make an impression on the interviewer, it should not be too much to take away the interviewer’s attention. Their focus should be on you, rather than on what you are wearing, which is why you need to keep your appearance simple. However, keep in mind that there is a difference between simple and boring.
- Have a dress rehearsal: The best way to make sure you are properly dressed for the interview is to have a dress rehearsal a day before the interview. Make sure the clothes you plan on wearing fit well, that they do not have a missing button or a stain, and so on. Having a dress rehearsal will reduce your chances of having a wardrobe malfunction.
What you wear to the job interview will have a significant impact on the kind of first impression you make to the interviewers, which will in turn influence your chances of getting the job.
If you are a woman wondering what to wear to your job interview, the tips provided in this article will help you dress for success.
Keep in mind, however, that there’s more to acing a job interview than your dressing.
Therefore, you need to take other steps to increase your chances of success, such as preparing for common interview questions, preparing questions to ask the interviewer, learning how to use the STAR method, and so on.
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