Your appearance makes a statement about who you are. Is yours going to get you the job you want?
Whether you are applying for a position with a new company or are interested in moving up through your current employer, how you look sets an impression about your capabilities.
Look at the two women above.
Let’s assume these women are interested in applying for a managerial position in a professional services company. Both are wearing a top, skirt and shoes that go together. It could be argued that both are appropriate for the job interview. However, the woman on the left has a bit of a “frumpy” appearance that doesn’t exude confidence whereas the woman on the right looks chic and confident.
The most important things to consider when dressing for the job you want is to understand the environment and the role.
What type of company are you applying at?
Do they typically dress casually, in business casual or in business attire?
What type of position are you applying for? Is it one that works face-to-face with the general public or business people, or is it in a back-office or exclusively on the telephone?
Would your role include managing others?
Dressing for the Role
While you would not want to dress in a suit for a job in a company that dresses casually, it is always appropriate to dress a little more formally than is typical, particularly if your role would include managing others. Here is a quick guide for interview dressing in different types of environments:
Long casual, fitted pants (no jeans, rips or stains) that do not bag at your shoe. Wear a short or long sleeve top and make sure your hair is neat and trim.
Men: Polo with a collar is best, one button open, tucked in with a belt that matches your pants. Wear casual loafer shoes – no sneakers!
Women: V-neck or moderate scoop neckline sweater or blouse (no cleavage!) with flat or low-heal shoes. Keep accessories clean and simple. Wear makeup but keep it moderate. It’s not date night!
Business Casual Environment
Same as above, except add the following:
Men: Add a tweed blazer that goes with your pants and dressier shoes that match the pants. Make sure facial hair, including eyebrows, are trimmed. Remove any facial piercings.
Women: Add a blazer and low-heal pumps
Another option: wear a knee-length, casual dress with short or long sleeves (no sun dresses) and neutral sandals or tights/nylons/shoes that match the hemline color. Remove any facial piercings.
This is where we kick things up! Suits are appropriate for both genders.
Men: Wear a collared dress shirt with a tie, matching belt and dress shoes. Make sure your pants are tailored so that they touch your shoe – no saggy pants! Ties can show your personality or interests but go easy on anything too loud. Keep it a bit more conservative.
Women: Professional women have a bit more flexibility here. You can wear a skirt or pant suit with an appropriate blouse or a conservative dress with pumps.
The Bottom Line: Think about the impressions you want to make before you walk out the door. Being authentic is important, but sometimes there’s a compromise between what you prefer to wear and what you should wear to be taken seriously. Set yourself a part by looking sharp!
Interested in learning how to create your confident look?
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