YP: Interview Attire – the dos and don’ts

As a journalist who has been full time freelance for years now, I don’t have to interview for jobs in the traditional sense. And since I’ve begun leaning towards fashion and lifestyle writing even less of those occasions require the formal interview attire. Still, I’ve got a thing or two to say about what you should and shouldn’t wear to a job interview. You see, my father has worked in human resources for more than 30 years and so over the years I’ve picked up a few of his tips, pearls of wisdom and pet peeves. And then there was that one summer I worked as his secretary and got to pre-screen candidates – boy, was that eye-opening. So here’s the 411:

  • Polish your shoes! My dad always looks first at the interviewee’s shoes and says you can learn a lot about the person based on how they care for those little things. For instance, if you are applying for a job that requires a detail-oriented professional you negate what your resume says with scuffed old shoes.
  • Iron your shirt. Even if you think your suit jacket is never coming off, iron your shirt. The starched look sends the right message and it also mentally pumps you up to put your best foot forward.
  • Own at least one complete suit. I’m talking pants or skirt, jacket, nice shirt, shoes, (tie if you are a guy, discreet jewelry if you are a girl). It’s worth the investment.
  • Pre-plan your attire. I can’t tell you the number of women who used to come into the retail store I worked at asking for a perfectly-fit suit for the following morning. So many of them left with something that wasn’t quite perfect because they were desperate.
  • Clothes should not be distracting. You don’t want the interviewer to spend more time focused on some funky tie design or shirt pattern than on your face and the words you are saying.
  • Ladies, avoid cleavage and lots of leg. You need to look like someone the company can trust and have confidence in. A demure skirt says business. A mini skirt says party.
  • Check your appearance before stepping into the building. The wind, transportation and nerves can do a number on the look you sported when you walked out the door that morning. Take a second to reassess and fix anything out of place.
  • Remove extra bling. Ears full of earrings, a tongue piercing, etc.. all distract from presenting yourself as the prime candidate for hire. Think basics and when in doubt, use Coco Chanel’s advice – when your are dressed and ready to walk out the door look in the mirror and remove one piece of jewelry.
  • Ladies, either have your fingers well manicured or devoid of nail polish. No chipping or multi-colored nail polish.
  • If you are interviewing with a company known for being super casual, try to at least step it up slightly. Even if everyone in the office is in jeans and a t-shirt, you want to stand out as serious about this position by the way you dress.

Obviously, some of these things vary based on your profession, the job you are interviewing for, your personality, etc…

(YP is a series of article on Tiger Print geared toward the Young Professional just entering the working world.) 

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