Knowing how to dress appropriately for an interview is an important aspect that job-hunters need to acknowledge, as initial impressions are formed quickly by employers looking at potential candidates to fill positions.
Wearing the wrong attire may be more critical than once believed. Taylor Koch, Career Services Career Outreach Coordinator, offered some tips about how to nail interview style in a step-by-step approach.
1. Do Research
“Start out by doing some research,” Koch said. “I think that’s a really important first step in terms of the process in order to prepare really well and to know what you should be wearing. You have to really understand the company well and find out what their culture is. Learn as much as you possibly can about the company: what they’re like, what they do, what kind of clients they work with, as well as how they interact with each other.”
2. Be a Step Above
“This may sound a little ambiguous, but you usually want to be a step above what they normally wear at the company,” Koch said. “If it’s a jeans and t-shirt office, that definitely doesn’t mean you want to wear jeans and a t-shirt to the interview, but you don’t necessarily have to be as formal as you would be for another job interview. Understanding what they wear on a daily basis and dressing even a little bit more formally than what they typically wear is a good starting place.”
3. Consider Conservative Colors and Styles
“No matter what your style is or how you identify, you want to be comfortable,” Koch said. “You want to feel confident in the clothes you’re wearing: nothing too tight, nothing too loose, nothing too low-cut, nothing too short. You want to make sure your clothes are tailored and fit you nicely so that you can move around in them to feel comfortable and confident in that interview. While you definitely want to convey your personality, you also have to think about what a company is expecting of a potential employee. You don’t want a loud bangly bracelet to be the thing they remember about you.”
4. For Makeup Wearers, Neutral is Safest
“You don’t want to do your makeup in a way that you wouldn’t on a normal basis,” Koch said. “You wouldn’t want to necessarily be wearing bright blue lipstick to an interview, unless you’re applying for a fashion position, or something that’s more on the cutting edge where they’d be expecting you to be a little more individualized. Generally speaking, makeup that you wear on a daily basis and what you’re comfortable with is good. You don’t have to not wear makeup. Some people will say things with fingernail polish, like try to be on the conservative end, but that being said, it’s actually becoming more common that people wear a little more colorful nail polish in the workplace. Sticking to neutrals is the safest way to go, but obviously there are people who wouldn’t mind you wearing bright colors.”
5. Acknowledge your Wardrobe’s Impact
“I would never want someone to think what you’re wearing is the only reason someone is choosing you or not choosing you for a position, but it definitely is impactful because it’s part of the brand and what you’re creating and what you’re putting out there,” Koch said. “You want that package to be really polished and to represent you accurately.”
Koch works with students and supervises career peer mentors, who assist her in providing outreach across campus. Together, they give presentations to residences halls, classrooms and student organizations on a variety of different topics, with a menu of eight different programs on things like interview preparation, resumes, cover letters and job searching.
Koch also provides one-on-one career counseling, and sometimes offers services in the Mulitcultural Resource Center and Learning Resource Center. She works closely to advise art, dance, theatre and foreign languages students.
Koch offers her support and lasting guidance for all students and upcoming graduates to think over as they enter the job market this summer.
“Employers take how you dress into consideration because it shows something about how put together or organized you are,” Koch said. “If your clothes are wrinkled or disheveled, for example, employers may think you’re disheveled in the workplace. It’s important to think about how you’re representing yourself.”
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