Your resume is printed on high quality paper. You've got a list of great references. You've prepared answers to possible interview questions in advance. Only one thing remains; what should you wear to your interview? Appropriate interview attire is crucial for ensuring your clothes don't make a bad first impression. Follow these guidelines and you will be sure to impress your potential employer with your professionalism.
First, it is important to realize that even if the job you are applying for has a casual dress code, you should not dress down for your interview. The hiring manager's perception of how much you care about your personal grooming and appearance will influence their hiring decision. Wearing inappropriate clothes or making other fashion mistakes for an interview gives the impression that you may not be professional and that you are unconcerned about your personal appearance.
Clothing should be clean and pressed and shoes should be dirt free and shined. Neutral colored slacks with a shirt and coordinated tie are appropriate for men, and in more formal situations, a suit jacket is appropriate. A sweater or vest may be worn over a collared shirt for more casual job sites. Women should wear a collared blouse and slacks or a skirt that goes no higher than just above the knee. Very long or flowing skirts should be avoided. A business suit with a blouse is another good option. In general, pass up garish colors or loud patterns to avoid distracting the hiring manager from the interview.
Shoes should be comfortable but classy. Men should choose shined or suede (preferably leather) shoes such as oxfords or other lace-up shoes. Women should avoid heels higher than 1-1/2 inches high and shoes should be close toed. Always wear socks, or perhaps pantyhose for women. Sandals and athletic shoes should never be worn to an interview.
Accessories should not be large or distracting. Men with pierced ears should remove earrings for the interview and women will want to stick with one pair of simple earrings such as studs or small hoops. All facial and tongue piercings should be removed before an interview. Necklaces are fine, although a small chain is preferable to oversized baubles. A simple tie tack is appropriate for men. Consider whether your jewelry coordinates with your outfit, and keep ornamentation to a minimum. Additionally, tattoos should be covered when possible by wearing long sleeves or a collared shirt. Some companies have restrictions about ornamentation like tattoos and piercings, so keeping your accessories to a minimum is a good idea.
Some people are sensitive to certain smells, so perfume or cologne should be used sparingly, if at all. Avoid putting lotion on your hands just prior to an interview to avoid having a greasy handshake! Nails should be clean and trimmed with minimal nail polish for female applicants. Men should be clean-shaven or have a well-groomed beard. Some employers have regulations about facial hair and hair lengths so keep in mind; you may need to visit a barber before actually starting work. Women should keep makeup light, with care not to overdo eye shadow and eyeliner. Consider using a light lip-gloss or neutral color of lipstick. Check your collar before your interview to ensure no makeup has rubbed off and inspect your teeth for lipstick smears.
Hair should be clean and styled. If you are in need of a haircut, visit your hairdresser a week in advance so any problems can be corrected before your interview. Long hair on men may put off some employers, so consider a more classic cut before your meeting. Women should avoid untamed hairdos and instead opt for a sleek ponytail or bun, or for shorter hair, a more conservative style.
Presenting a clean, professional appearance is the first step in impressing your potential employer. Well-fitted clothes with minimal accessories will make a great first impression. Taking care to avoid anything that might offend or distract your employer is imperative when applying for a job. Get your career of to a great start by dressing for success. Your attire won't distract your future employer, and you can focus on wowing them with your qualification and experience.