Dress to Impress: A Practical Guide to Choosing Interview Attire

By Dixie Somers

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In spite of an economy where people apply and interview wherever they can in the hopes of landing a job, dress and appearance continue to be very important so potential employers can visualize you in the role you've applied for.

Dress Appropriately Based on the Position You're Interviewing For

Suits used to be the only thing people wore to a job interview, but wearing one might not be appropriate in all situations in this day and age. Job interviewees will definitely want to wear a suit if they are interviewing for a management position or in a more conservative profession like law. However, if interviewing for a job in fast food, retail or even some tech startups, more casual business dress might be appropriate. Even among different professional industries and individual businesses, expected dress can vary, so it is imperative for job seekers to do their research.

Hiring managers are trying to envision you in the role, and so if you don't physically look the part, you are likely to be looked over. If you dress too formally or informally you will already seem out of place in their organization. A good rule is to dress at or slightly above the level of dress formality the company's current employees do. If you are ever in doubt, dress more conservatively.

Wear What Makes You Feel Good

Wearing favorite clothes is a great interview tactic because if you like what you're wearing, you're going to feel more powerful and that confidence is going to show in your interview. Showing off your personality a bit through your dress also gives the interviewer a visual indicator of who you are, so they can more accurately gauge if you will be a good fit at their company. Your outfit should complement your personality and image, not contradict them. If you feel uncomfortable in your outfit, you are bound to look uncomfortable in an interview.

Avoid Some Things

Always avoid loud or bright colors, which can indicate a desire to be the center of attention. This includes prints, like leopard. Make sure your shoes are not scuffed, your clothes too tight or too loose, and that you are not wearing perfume. If your favorite blouse is low-cut, you like to wear lots of rings, or your favorite pair of shoes look old and worn, they are poor choices to wear to a job interview. Giving any impression in your appearance that you don't care signals that you might be sloppy in your work or have a problem with authority.

Neatness and Often Overlooked Cosmetic Issues

Clothes are not the only thing interviewees need to consider when preparing for an interview. Make sure you shower, brush your teeth, and use deodorant before an interview. Do not smoke or wear perfume on the day of the interview. Having a strong odor of any kind can upset the interviewer or, worse, trigger an allergic reaction. If you bite your nails or have yellow teeth, do what you can to fix the problem, such as putting on fake nails. While correcting your teeth may take a bit longer, dentists in Salt Lake City say you can achieve whiter teeth by regularly changing your toothbrush and eliminating tobacco products. Adopt better hygiene habits and cosmetic routines a few weeks prior to the interview, at least—even small changes can make a big difference!

For ladies, wearing makeup is a highly personal choice and it is generally recommended to wear it to a job interview. However, if you don't want to and don't feel the role you are applying for requires it, you might decide not to wear it. On the other end of the spectrum, it is also very important not to go overboard. Use neutral, subdued makeup that complements your skin tone and natural features.

The bottom line is this: dressing for the role makes you far more likely to get it. Dress conservatively and nicely for a job interview but allow a bit of your personality to shine through in your appearance. Most importantly, make sure your outfit is appropriate for the situation and that you exude confidence.

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