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Dressing for an Interview

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 19 Sep 2014 | comments*Discuss
Dressing Success Interview Clothing

Dressing for an interview can be confusing. You'll want to feel put together but comfortable, confident in your clothes but relaxed, clean and neat but not like a cookie cutter worker. This is a tall order at any time, but with the extra pressure of an interview it may seem almost impossible to create an outfit that portrays the precise message that you want. The good news is that rarely you will be hired, or passed over, strictly due to your outfit. The bad news is that your interview outfit may be the one item that can tip the scales in your favour, so you do need to choose it with care.

Do Your Research

One of the best ways to find out what is appropriate for interviews in your industry is to do your research. Surf company websites to see if they mention anything about dress codes or "corporate culture", walk by the office around lunch time to see what the employees are wearing, and if you have a career guidance office available to you then drop in to see if they have any advice on interview outfits. After that, use your common sense. If you would wear something to clean the house, go out to a club or while you exercise then it would probably not be appropriate for an interview (even if you are hoping to work as a cleaner, club promoter or personal trainer).

Dress for Success

An old business adage is to dress for the position that you want, not the position that you have. For students this usually means investing in their very first suit or business casual outfit. Men don't need to think too far outside of the box - a suit, dress shirt and tie as well as dress shoes will most likely make up most interview outfits. In more relaxed offices a polo shirt and slacks paired with more casual shoes may also work. For women a pants or skirt suit and blouse, or a pair of slacks with a nice sweater or top, are usually appropriate attire for interviews. In more creative environments these rules may be relaxed a little.

Show Good Taste

No matter where you are interviewing you will want to make sure that your clothes are always in good taste. Avoid wearing skirts about the knee, see-through clothing, any article of clothing that is stamped with questionable or rude words, clothing that is too tight, clothing that has ragged edges or any clothing that is wrinkled, stained or ripped. Body art and body piercings should also be covered, removed or otherwise hidden during an interview and make-up and accessories should be kept to a minimum. It is perfectly fine if you have only one interview outfit, but just remember to take care of it correctly. Make repairs as needed and invest in the best cleaning supplies that you can afford.

Dressing for an interview can be nerve-wracking. To avoid any untoward choices, do your research beforehand, remember to dress for success and when in doubt simply show good taste. Overdressing rather than undressing, and dressing slightly more conservatively than wildly are also good rules of thumb to follow when selecting an interview outfit. That job will be yours in no time!

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