Prepping for a big interview? Congratulations! You’ve already caught the attention of your potential new employer, which is half the battle, but now it’s time to ready yourself for the interview. One of the most important things you should do in the pre-interview process is to pick out an outfit that makes you feel empowered, confident and capable. Whether it be a power suit, a blazer with slacks or a brightly colored dress, the right interview look can mean the difference between an offer and a pass.
Does How You Dress Really Matter?
This begs the question: Does how you dress for a job interview even matter? The short answer is yes, and here’s why. Studies show that what you wear has a massive impact on how others feel about you and how you feel about yourself. For example, research shows that people who are well-dressed appear more confident, successful and flexible. Other studies indicate that clothing has a huge impact on a person’s self-image and behavior, too, potentially improving workplace performance. So, yes, taking the time to strategize a put-together interview outfit is well worth the effort!
Step 1: Research the Company
Before you even start brainstorming a possible interview outfit, take some time to research the organization and get an idea of their company culture. Looking at their social media pages is a great way to better understand the vibe of the place. Keep your eyes out for employee photos and take note of the dress code. Photos of employees rocking jeans and tees, of course, signal a more laid-back rulebook, whereas suits and dresses mean more formality.
If you know anyone in your area who happens to work wherever you’re interviewing, get in touch with them and try to get some advice on what to wear. Things like piercings, tattoos and funky hair colors may or may not be off-limits. If you aren’t sure, we always advise erring on the side of formality by covering the tats and removing the piercings. The same goes for dress code. Even if it’s casual, you need to dress up, but the environment will dictate how creative and self-expressive you can be with your interview look.
Step 2: Plan Your Outfit
And now for the hard part: actually planning your outfit. Ultimately, the perfect interview ensemble is made up of a few important components, including:
- A Solid-Colored Button-Up—It really doesn’t matter how formal or casual the interview may be, a solid-colored button-up shirt always looks right. The key is in the fit and the styling. Choose a properly fitting shirt or have one tailored to your exact measurements. Of course, your button-up must be tucked.
- High-Waisted Slacks or a Pencil Skirt—Next up: bottoms. Start with some slimming, smoothing shapewear to lay the perfect foundation for your look. A waist-slimming panty or body shaper helps create a seamless under-layer for any curve-hugging skirt or pair of pants. Top it off with a classic pair of workwear pants or a high-waisted pencil skirt for a perfectly polished presentation.
- A Pair of Sensible Shoes—If you’re aiming for a more classic or dressy workwear look, stick with a pair of comfortable, low heels in either black or navy. In more formal work environments, subtlety and blending in is key, so you don’t want to go overboard. If the company has an expressly relaxed culture, we love the idea of topping off a formal interview look with some more casual shoes, such as a pair of leopard print flats or white sneakers.
- Optional: Accessories That Suit You—Here’s the thing: Dressing for an interview is about showing your capability and giving your interviewers a peek into who you are as a worker and a person. Dressing in uniform with zero personal touches is hardly a good way to do that. To add a personalized flair, be sure to wear something that subtly represents you, such as some funky glasses, floral tights, a colorful belt, unique jewelry or bold nail polish. In most modern offices, this is also a great way to spark conversation.
Step 3: Prioritize Comfort
A perfectly put-together interview outfit that looks amazing but falls flat in the comfort department is a major no-go. It’s vital that you wear clothing to your interview that makes you feel 100 percent confident and comfortable because you don’t want to risk having to fuss with what you’re wearing during the interview or being more focused on your clothing than your talking points.
- Wear a Shirt That Conceals Sweat—If you tend to sweat, make sure to take this into consideration when designing your interview outfit. We can all learn from that time the Suns passed on Kawhi Leonard because he was sweating during his interview (huge mistake, considering Kawhi went onto become a two-time NBA Finals MVP). Make sure to wear a dark-colored shirt in a breathable fabric—cotton or linen is better than silk or nylon, for example—to ensure that you don’t wind up with visible pit stains and ruin your chances of advancing.
- Consider Technical Fabrics—Because of the fact that we all want to feel comfy at work, more and more companies have emerged that create office-friendly apparel—including button-ups and work pants—using technical fabrics. These materials are similar to the ones you wear to the gym in that they help control your temperature while also wicking away sweat, but they look much more professional.
First Impressions Matter
Remember, as much of a cliché as it may be, first impressions do matter. Putting a bit of time and effort into your interview style beforehand may be exactly what you need to make a good one so you get invited back for round two. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to landing your dream job.