When heading into an interview, most of us understand that it’s important to look our best. Although we’d like to think our outer appearance carries very little weight in the employer’s evaluation, it actually does. I am a volunteer for a women’s organization called Dress for Success whose aim is to put disadvantaged women on an equal playing field with a professional wardrobe that can help them to exude confidence—so I get to see the positive results of dressing for success firsthand.
Research has shown that 85 percent of communication is nonverbal, so the right outfit will help to present a well-rounded package and a confident self-image that commands an employer’s attention—in a good way.
Colours can say a lot. I love bright, bold colours and patterns, but they don’t always make the best option for an interview because they can potentially distract from the discussion. Remember, it’s good to stand out, but focus on doing this through your personality and the way you respond to interview questions, rather than through your clothing.
Here are a few smart colour choices to keep in mind:
Blue: Any dark shade of blue, such as navy, is a safe colour to wear. Blue is a calm colour that projects stability, trust, confidence and security.
Grey: This is another popular colour to wear since it adds sophistication to your look. It’s also very calm and doesn’t distract from the interview.
Black: People often choose black dress pants or blazers, which can help signify authority. You want to make sure that black doesn’t become your main colour, because it can look severe and dramatic too. Instead, use black to accent or contrast your outfit.
Red: Red is an energizing colour, but best used as an accent. It’s commonly associated with love, passion and intensity—which may not be welcome in your workplace!—so be sure to use it cautiously.
White: A nice white shirt or blouse is another safe bet because it always makes for a clean, polished look.
It’s not always about looking trendy. Although it’s nice to mix a few trendy or fashion-forward pieces into your work wardrobe, you don’t want to be thought of as the office peacock. Don’t overdo it.
Try to avoid patterns. When used well, patterns can bring some light playfulness to an outfit. They can be incorporated in the workplace, provided they aren’t too extreme, but should be used minimally in a job interview setting.
Take a look at store collections. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what really classifies as work attire, or what can be dressed up or down. I find going to the websites of stores that sell professional-looking clothing and checking out their links under “workwear” can provide great suggestions.
Once you’ve secured a job, observe what the usual work attire is and see how you can blend in with your dress, while still capturing your personality. You want to make sure that you are giving yourself every chance to succeed in a very competitive job market.
Check out the Career Options Pinterest page for a great selection of work and job interview outfit ideas.