Six Tips Women Should Follow to Dress Like a Pro For a Job Interview

by Laura Bojamma

Preparing for a job interview is a long and intense process, and for women, deciding what to wear is more involved than for men. However, its importance should not be underestimated. According to Samantha Lopes, Senior Career Specialist at SUNY New Platz’s Career Center, “employers will make a first impression of you even before you open your mouth, and a lot of that has to do with your appearance.”

For Julia Tibrahim, a college student living in Phoenix, AZ, having her first job interview was the most stressful time of her life. She spent two weeks preparing for it before realizing on the last day that she didn’t know what to wear. “When I looked at my wardrobe in the morning, I totally panicked,” she confessed. To avoid additional anxiety to your preparation, here are six tips to make sure that you will be perfectly dressed for the D-day.

Use the “neck to knees” rule.

You will need to avoid several pieces of clothing that you may think are perfect for you. The most important thing is not to distract your interviewer so forget every item that shows too much skin. Lopes has an important rule she tells her students when they come to her office: “neck to knees.” Anything that is too revealing must stay in your wardrobe. The same rule applies for see-through items.

Forget the perfume.

It may seem obvious to wear a nice fragrance when you want to make a good impression, but a lot of people have allergies. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, 30.5 percent of Americans say perfumes and colognes are irritating. Lopes says that if you come in with a strong perfume, the interviewer may be sneezing the entire time. So it’s better to skip it, because you don’t want your perfume to be a distraction.

Know that colors have meanings

The type of clothing you wear to an interview is important and so is the color. For example, “red is very strong, it connotes passion, that could be a turnoff to an interviewer,” according to Robin Blue-Brown, program director for the organization Dress for Success, which provides professional attire to women entering the working environment, in Poughkeepsie and nationally. The recruiter has to be focused on what you’re saying, and not what you’re wearing, so forget crazy patterns. Opt for a black, grey or brown suit and the way you will accessorize it can bring out your personality. Add some discreet touches of your favorite colors and some jewelry, which will be a way to stand out.

Wear What You Trust

Your clothes need to reflect your personality. As Lopes says “You need to be comfortable in what you wear. If you wear a skirt and you’re not comfortable, the whole time you will be worried.” According to Blue-Brown, at Dress for Success, her customers “do everything from dance to cry, to smile and often times they are really shocked and surprised with how great they look. We see a change in their posture, their heads are up.” That partially comes from your exterior, and embodying what you wear gives you confidence.

Know yourself

Be careful about your nervous tics and the things you know you do often when you are under pressure. “If your tendency is to play with your hair and move your head, then put your hair up,” declared Lopes. This works for all other bad habits you may have: if you know that you will touch your necklace all the time, don’t wear one. Analyze yourself and think about the many simple things you do when you are nervous, and do your best to avoid it.

Research the company and the interviewer

One important element is to find information about the person who may hire you, and by doing this, you’ll feel more confident. It can also influence your attire! Identify what the philosophy of the company. For Lopes, your outfit can be completely different according to the environment you want to work for: “If you want to be hired in the fashion industry or in a creative company, there’s more freedom. But if you are going for an interview on Wall Street in New York City, then you need to wear a traditional black suit, it’s just the way to go.”


A version of this post originally appeared in “Clarity” The Teller May 2019 Issue 6

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