After filling out that application along with your resume and cover letter, you finally got word that your potential employer wants you to come in for an interview. While you might feel extremely excited and that you're one step closer to scoring your dream job, it's only natural to be nervous about the interview. About 92% of adults in the U.S. reported feeling anxious about job interviews, so you're not alone.
Part of your pre-interview anxiety might stem from not knowing what to wear. You've wowed them on paper, but nothing can take the place of a first impression face-to-face, so it's essential for you to make a good one. Knowing what to wear for a formal interview, casual interview or one that's somewhere in between can help you wow your future employer and land your dream job.
Why Choosing the Right Attire is Crucial for Job Interviews
You've probably been told to "dress to impress" or "dress for the job you want." The cliches can be crucial reminders of how you should be presenting yourself during the interview. You made it this far based on your skills and qualifications, so you might be wondering why your appearance would matter when it's time to interview.
It all comes back to first impressions. The first thing a hiring manager is going to see when you walk through the door is your outfit and grooming choices. If a hiring manager is having difficulty choosing between two similar candidates, clothing may be the factor that decides who gets hired. Wearing appropriate attire to your interview tells a potential employer several things without you having to say a word.
1. It Shows You Did Your Research and Have a Good Sense of Judgment
Doing your research is the first step to ensure dress success. Whether you're interviewing for a position at a law firm or a tech start-up, you should be familiar with the office dress code. Many times, employers intentionally leave dress code details out so they can form their own judgments on how you have chosen to dress. It could be considered your first test. To ensure you pass, get familiar with the company and its culture. If their site and social media don't provide much help, you may want to drive to the office during the start of the day or as people are leaving to get a good idea of what is appropriate attire. This way, once your interview rolls around, you can impress your potential employer by demonstrating your good sense of judgment when it comes to attire.
2. It Shows That You're Professional and Confident
Dressing appropriately for your interview also indicates that you can demonstrate professionalism. By matching what you wear to the interview with the company's dress code, you show your potential employer that you are following the company's established expectations and respect them. Looking your best and feeling your best go hand in hand. Choosing an outfit you feel confident in will help you feel more confident at the interview. Your potential employer is likely to notice your confidence, too.
3. It Shows That You Respect the Job and the Company's Time
Maintaining a professional appearance also reassures employers that you're serious about wanting the job and respect their time. If you went into an interview for a financial position dressed in jeans and a T-shirt when the dress code is business formal, it's a waste of the interviewer's time and gives the impression that you don't care about the job. To make sure you're showing respect for the dress code, you could even take it a step up. If everyone in the office is wearing dress pants and a blouse, throw on a blazer to complete your look.
Don't let your appearance hold you back from landing a job. Take the time to understand the importance of professional attire. You only have seconds to make an impression. As a guideline, the dress code for interviews can be divided into three main categories — business formal, business casual and casual.
What Should I Wear to a Business Formal Job Interview?
Business formal is the most strict dress code for an interview. If you land an interview at a business formal company, you definitely want to ditch the denim and reach for something that screams boss businesswoman. Business formal doesn't have to mean the same black and white pantsuit every time. As you prepare for your interview and put together the perfect business formal outfit, remember that you have options, too.
Business formal attire is best if you have an interview in the following industries:
If you're prepping a business formal outfit for an upcoming interview, you'll likely rely on staples like blazers, dress pants or skirts, collared shirts and black heels. However, knowing what types of items to purchase is only half of the battle. How do you go about putting them together into an outfit that's sure to impress your potential employer? Here are a few ideas.
1. Your Favorite Powersuit
Put on your favorite blazer with matching dress pants or a matching skirt and own that interview. Nothing exudes confidence like a woman who knows what she's capable of, so rocking that suit in your interview shows that you really do mean business. For a formal interview, stick with solid and neutral colors. A white or another light-colored blouse will look great underneath your tailored blazer. For the suit itself, consider going with a color like navy. When asked what the best color to wear to a job interview is, 23% of about 2,000 hiring managers said blue. Blue is thought to be an indicator of a good team player and conveys feelings of calm, trust and confidence.
2. The Classic Black Dress
Sophisticated and stylish, you can't go wrong with a black dress for your business formal interview. However, this dress shouldn't be the same 'little black dress' you wear out on the weekends. Make sure your dress has sleeves and a length that hits around your knee. Keep in mind that it also might come up a little bit when you take a seat during your interview.
Black is a great color for business formal interviews it's seen as a dominant color that conveys leadership, authority and power. Paired with a nice blazer and some black closed-toe heels, you're going to feel unstoppable as you step into your interview.
3. Dress Up a Blouse
In outfit combos such as the suit, blouses sometimes don't get enough credit. With the right shirt, you pull the whole look together. In a business formal environment, blouses are traditionally solid, light colors and paired with a pencil skirt and a blazer on top. If you keep all other aspects of your outfit simple, sometimes it's OK to incorporate a little bit of print on a blouse. For example, if you think the company would allow it, choose a shirt with some subtle stripes or small dots. As a guideline, these prints should stay neutral-colored, so black, white, navy and gray could all work. Just make sure to double-check with your potential employer before you finalize your outfit. You may even want to explore bow blouses for a style switch-up.
What Should I Wear to a Business Casual Job Interview
If you're interviewing for a job in a less formal industry, but you're unsure of the level of casualty, you should dress business casual. Mixing elements of business formal and casual, the dress code gives you even more independence to put pieces together as you please. Because business casual attire encompasses numerous jobs from all different industries, you could be dressing business casual for a part-time job at a restaurant or a full-time job as a sales representative. Some other examples of industries where you can stick with a business casual dress code include:
- Graphic Design
Borrowing staples from business formal attire and mixing them with elements of casual wear, the outfit opportunities you could create are virtually endless. Here are business casual job interview outfits to try.
1. The Wrap Dress
Unlike the more solid, structured dresses you'd wear to a business formal interview, wrap dresses can still exhibit professionalism while giving you a little more free reign. The versatility of a wrap dress can transfer to virtually any job, making it a business casual interview staple. With a business casual dress code, you can also start incorporating more color, patterns and materials into your outfit. This doesn't mean you should go all out with a loud animal print dress, but something different like a chambray wrap dress can mix things up yet maintain your professional appearance. Just throw a blazer or cardigan on top. If you're interviewing specifically for a more creative position, you might want to try a wrap dress in an interesting pattern.
2. The Business Casual Suit
As a more relaxed rendition of the classic businesswoman suit, you can't go wrong with the business casual suit. Instead of dress pants, you can wear black or dark blue jeans. Pair the jeans with a fitted blazer, a printed top and your favorite pair of flats and you're ready to rock the interview. It would be safe to stick with something like stripes for your top and to stay within the same color family for a look that's more laid back but still uniform.
3. Khakis and Cardigans
Need we say more? Khakis and cardigans are two items that can create a comfortable ensemble that'll have you feeling and looking your best for your next business casual interview. Whether you're donning a classic pair of khaki pants or a khaki skirt, you can pair almost any blouse with it to dress it up or dress it down, then complete the look with a fitted cardigan. If your outfit is otherwise solid colors, you can add variety with a two-toned cardigan. However, bold prints should be limited to one item only. You could even switch it up and go with a khaki blazer to wear over a blouse with navy trouser pants or dark wash jeans if the job seems to lean on the more casual side of business casual.
4. Billowing Blouse with Tapered Trousers
Who doesn't love a good flowy blouse? Paired with some fitted trousers, these two essentials for any business casual interview make the dream team. A white button-down blouse would look amazing with tapered trousers or dark-wash jeans, topped off with either a cardigan or a blazer. Plus, white adds some brightness to your outfit without being flash. It's also known as a color that conveys truth, simplicity and organization. This doesn't mean you have to avoid prints all together, though, as you could still find neutral-toned prints that provide a nice pop without being a distraction.
What Should I Wear to a Casual Job Interview?
How casual is too casual when it comes to a job interview? You probably don't want to show up in a messy bun and sweatpants, but a nice pair of jeans paired with a solid color knit shirt could work.
A word of caution: Unless you're positive the job you're interviewing for has a casual dress code, it's always safe to err on the side of business casual. More often than not, it's much better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview. For some jobs, though, such as at a start-up tech agency, you might break out the casual wear. After all, if the manager is wearing a tee and jeans, there's probably no need to show up in a pantsuit. To keep it low-key but still in the realm of professionalism, check out some outfit ideas below.
1. Dress Up Jeans
Since casual interviews may call for jeans, the rest of your look should complement your bottoms without looking too relaxed. Jeans don't have to mean you're dressed down. By adding something like a fitted silk blouse or a fitted black blazer, you immediately take your outfit up a notch. To complete the outfit, you can add a pair of black pumps or flats and a bold bag. Take advantage of accessories to enhance your ensemble when dressing for a casual interview.
2. Stay Neutral for a Casual Chic Look
For a casual look that still screams sophistication, pair a thick, neutral-toned sweater with coordinating trousers. Although casual clothing allows you to add some bright and bold colors and patterns, sometimes less is more — especially if you're interviewing at a somewhat more buttoned-up company. You could dress the look up with some nude-colored heels and add brightness with a white bag.
3. Incorporate Bold Colors and Add a Blazer
For some, an interview for a job with a casual dress code is their first time experimenting with bold and bright patterns and colors. With your color palette now more open, it's important to remember to avoid some colors. For example, orange is seen as unprofessional and too bold and playful. Brown, which some see as reliable, can also be mistaken for drab and old-fashioned while red can sometimes convey anger and hostility. Purple and yellow are also colors some may consider too bright and creative to wear in a professional interview setting. With this in mind, start with finding some colored pants in shades such as olive green or dusky rose. You can pair the pants with a printed top and a black blazer or a black top and a colored blazer. The choice is yours, and can help you feel confident as you stride into your interview.
Finishing Touches for Your Interview
After you have your ideal outfit planned, there are some final finishing touches to make, such as your hair and makeup. You might spend as much time polishing off your look as you did finding what to wear to a job interview. Expert makeup and a sleek hair-do complement an A-game outfit.
Hair Styling Tips
No matter your current cut or style, here's how to make your hair look great.
- Go with a polished ponytail. A sleek pony free of any frizzy flyaways is an easy hairstyle for any interview. As a finishing touch, you can hide the hairband by wrapping a piece of hair around it and securing it in place with a bobby pin.
- Straighten your hair for a sleek look. After you straighten your hair, put it behind your shoulders to keep it from getting in your face.
- Go with loose curls. Loose curls can provide an extra touch of effortless elegance without looking like you're trying too hard.
- Pull back one side. If you're used to continually tucking your hair behind your ear, pin it back instead with some bobby pins. When your hair is pinned back, you'll be less likely to play with it in the interview.
- Experiment with braids. Don't be afraid to try something new. Instead of your usual simple braid down the middle of your back, try something like a side braid, a fishtail braid or a French braid. Just make sure your hairstyle isn't distracting and fits your professional ensemble.
- Add some natural waves. Natural waves enhance your everyday hair look and increase volume and style without looking too overdone.
- Go over your ends for some loose waves. These waves can be accomplished quickly and easily by leaving the body of your hair as is and merely touching up the ends.
- Leave it natural. Nothing is easier than embracing your hair's natural look. Just make sure it looks professional.
Whether you usually wear a full-face of makeup or tend to skip it, a little can go a long way for a job interview.
- Blend in. As a general guideline, it's better to be relatively minimal with the makeup for your interview and use products that go with your skin tone.
- Go light on blush. If you often experience rosy cheeks, you should downplay the blush since your natural cheek color is bound to make an appearance during your interview.
- Skip fake eyelashes. Fake eyelashes are great for nights out and other major special occasions, but not necessarily for job interviews. Plus, you don't want to be uncomfortable if they're positioned oddly or have them accidentally start to come off. Just use mascara instead.
- Lean toward natural lip shades. Use lip glosses and lipstick that have a "your lips but better" color and accentuate your natural lips. Also, be wary of sticky lip gloss that could become a hot spot for your hair to cling to.
- Trade in the liquid liner for a pencil. Even if you usually do a cat eye with liquid eyeliner every day, try a softer look with an eyeliner pencil.
- Keep eyeshadow natural. Let your skills and talents steal the show, not bright, glittery eyeshadow. Keep your eyeshadow natural-toned to keep your look simple.
- Use powder for shine. If you're nervous or in a warm room under bright light, it's natural to become a little oily. To keep your shine down, use a mineral powder to stay matte.
Need the Perfect Outfit for an Upcoming Interview? Shop My Sister's Closet Boutique!
The only thing standing in between you and your dream job is your interview. Whether you're interviewing for a job that requires business formal attire, business casual attire or casual attire, you can count on My Sister's Closet Boutique to supply you with all the professional staples you need to dress to impress. We understand how important it is for you not only to look your best but to feel your best, too. That's why we offer quality fashion items in a variety of styles and sizes, so you can be sure to find something that works great for you. To stay up to date with all of our new pieces, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook or start shopping today!