Dressing For A Successful Job Interview

By Britta Erickson, Journalist

What can you do to update your look or make some tweaks that will help you make a great first impression? Here are my 5 tips for dressing for success: 

1. Color

When it comes to the color palette of your outfit, there are a couple things you need to keep in mind. First of all, don’t be unmemorable in all neutrals. People tend to play it safe by wearing a dull suit, nude blazer and nude pants with a white shirt, or some along those lines. By wearing something boring like that, chances are the person interviewing you will not remember you.

If you are going to wear a suit or pieces that are all the same color, try breaking up the dullness with a colored shirt or blazer. Or if you want to wear a suit and shirt that are on the subtle side, have a colored handbag, pair of shoes, or tie.

Second, when picking a statement color don’t pick a trendy, loud color, try a classic color. For example, wearing neon orange is going to be too distracting, but a nice, rich rust color would be tasteful.

2. Fit

Another thing you need to keep in mind when picking your interview attire is: Does it fit correctly? Are your pants too tight or too big? Is your shirt too tight or is the neckline too low? The list of questions goes on. One rule of thumb is make sure that your outfit is something that you would feel comfortable wearing in front of your grandmother. You don’t want to wear something that is too tight, short, or revealing. On the other side of the spectrum, make sure your outfit isn’t too big and baggy. You want to wear something that is tailored to make you look your best. If something needs to be shortened or taken in at all to make the fit more figure flattering, taking it to tailor is a great investment.

3. Accessories

When it comes to your accessories, keep it simple, but still show some of your personality. If you are wearing an outfit of all neutrals, wear a bold, but not gaudy/cheap, necklace (a statement necklace). You could also wear a nice pair of pumps that shows some personality without being over the top. Don’t wear a pattern that is not office appropriate like skulls or neon leopard. This goes for guys, too. Don’t wear a tie that is too loud or unprofessional. But you can still wear a pocket square or tie that shows some personality with a nice rich color that compliments you and your suit. Have fun with it, but don’t be over the top.

4. Grooming

When you groom for your interview make sure that you look natural and polished. Don’t wear heavy make-up or bright lipstick. Keep your make-up pallet neutral and subtle. When it comes to hair, make sure your hair is neat and polished. If it looks disheveled people are going to assume that you can’t take care of yourself.

For men, make sure that your facial hair is under control. Trim your mustache or beard. If you have scruff, make sure it looks neat and if it doesn’t, shave for the interview. 

Finally, check out your nails. Some interviewers look at your fingernails to see if there is any dirt under them and to see if they are trimmed nicely. These little things help show that you pay attention to detail.

5. General Tips

One of my mottos that I use for every occasion is: “it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed.” Even if you think that your potential employer has a relaxed dress code, still dress up to make a great first impression. Traditionally, no one will judge you for looking too polished. People will judge you for not being dressed up enough. However, there are always a few exceptions to this rule. I have heard of cases where places want you to dress down. Because of this, it is always best to research the company you are interviewing for and try to get a sense of how formal their dress code really is. 

The next time you have a job interview and think about wearing that old dress or suit from the back of your closet, think about these tips and ask yourself, “will this give the impression that I want to give?”