Dressing Right for your Job Interview

The moment the company receptionist, admin assistant, or HR Manager sees you as you walk in for your job interview, you make a first impression through your appearance. Clothes make the man (or woman), as they say. And in the case of the job interview, your attire can make a big difference in your chances of landing that prestigious job, whether as executive secretary, finance analyst, marketing assistant, or product manager.

Any recruitment consultant will tell you that one of the important points to keep in mind before you show up for your job interview is to dress properly. After all, if you’re going to be part of a corporation, you have to start dressing corporate.

For Men Start with your two-piece matching suit – shirt and pants. Choose a conservative color like black, dark grey or navy blue for your pants. For your shirt, choose a plain light color like white, off-white, or light blue. You may also wear a striped shirt, but be sure the stripes are subtle, not high-contrast. A good fabric for your shirt would be classic cotton.

What tie should you wear? This is a bit tricky, simply because there are so many options out there. Choose a tie that provides a pleasant contrast with your shirt and suit. You can go plain or patterned, but restrict the pattern to the more conventional, like diagonal stripes or polka dots.

Choose a belt that matches your shoes. If your shoes are brown, select a belt that is as close as possible to the same shade of brown. Use a plain belt, not one with metal studs or ornate embroidery.

Keep your jewelry to a minimum. A classic metal watch or one ring should be enough.

Wear socks that match your pants or shoes, or both. Wear formal leather shoes, either slip on or with shoelaces. If you choose to wear shoes with laces, make sure the ends are not frayed.

What not to wear: casual loafers, jeans, loud colored and/or trendy shirts, preppy/poppy ties (for example, peace sign, tie-dye, splash-on colors, cartoon characters), earrings.

For Women If you decide to wear a two-piece suit (blazer and pants), choose from various shades of grey, navy blue, or black. If you opt for the skirt-and-blazer combination, make sure these match. The hemline of your skirt should be about knee-high, long enough to completely cover your thighs when you sit down.

Choose a neatly fitting blouse, light sweater, or collared business shirt to go with your two-piece suit. Go with light colors that will contrast nicely with your dark suit. Good choices are white, beige, old rose, peach, light blue, mint green, and pale yellow. Stay subdued. Avoid overly bright colors.

For footwear, choose leather pumps in a color that matches your suit. Medium-height heels are ideal, because they make you look businesslike but at the same time are comfortable enough to walk around in. You may also opt for black stockings if you’re wearing a black skirt and blazer.

Keep accessories to a minimum. Use a small, unobtrusive handbag and wear as little jewelry as possible.

What not to wear: mini skirts, plunging necklines, preppy belts, loud colored or multi-colored blouses, see-through shirts, casual jacket (in lieu of blazer), gaudy oversized jewelry.

A final note: whatever you wear, make sure you’re comfortable. Your clothes should fit you well enough that you look formal but not stiff. Remember, every little bit helps in making that all-important positive first impression.

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