July 3, 2013

Don’t Let the Wrong Clothes Cost you the Right Job

Young man raising dirty hands to heavenIt goes without saying that preparing for a job interview is a bit of a stressful process. You must prepare your resume, ensuring it’s up to date. Then you’ll need to think about the potentially complicated interview questions and how you’ll respond. Plus, putting the icing on the cake—assembling your best references. However, choosing an appropriate and professional outfit to wear continues to remain as one of the most harrowing parts of job interview.

Figuring out what you should wear to a job interview is really only half the battle. It’s just as important to understand what not to wear. For most people, that means separating your personal and social image from the image the “professional you” wants to make. Sounds simple enough, but not everyone has mastered this skill. In fact, a study found that inappropriate interview attire was the number one mistake millennial job seekers make. Now, if you’re familiar with that the unfortunate state of millennials and employment, you’ll understand that this seemingly simple area is one people in this group cannot afford to mess up. Open-toed heels, jeans, and too short dressed shouldn’t come between you and the job you want—and need.

With all of the information out there on what to and not to do when it comes to job interviews, you’d be sure everyone has this area perfected. But, just in case you (or anyone you know) need a little reminder, below are five interview tips when it comes to deciding what to wear:

1. Choose Classic over Trendy

While it may seem to make sense to choose an interview outfit that’s reflective of current trends in an attempt to show that you’re modern and in step with the times, it’s much better to stick with timeless classics instead. After all, it’s more than a little possible that your idea of what’s trendy and hip may not actually gel with the interviewer’s. A classic option, on the other hand, will always ensure that you’re dressed for success. In a CNN article, Oprah.com’s creative director, Adam Glassman,  suggests classics like “foolproof and flattering silhouettes, like the basic button-down (try the no-iron kind from Brooks Brothers), pencil skirt, slim trousers, and [a] sheath dress.” With these types of clothing, you’ll always be prepared for a job interview absolutely anywhere.

2. Cover Any Tattoos and Piercings

Unless you’re interviewing someplace where tattoos and piercings are encouraged (say, a tattoo parlor?) and where you know your body modifications will be an asset—as opposed to a drawback—it’s always best to dress modestly and keep your body art covered in order to avoid making the wrong impression. If you have rings or body jewelry you can remove, do so. Also, be sure to dress so that all tattoos are thoroughly and adequately covered. Studies show that over a fifth of American adults have tattoos and they may not be as much of a turnoff in the workplace as years ago, but it’s best to keep them covered during an interview. If hired, once you get a feel for the company culture and dress code, then you can decide whether or not clothes showing your body art are appropriate.

3. Pay Attention to Fragrance

Although it’s understandable that you’d want to smell pleasant and sophisticated for a job interview, it’s also important to understand that other people have various ideas of their own when it comes to body fragrance. Interviewers could hold it against a potential candidate if he or she has on strong perfume or cologne. That said, it’s probably best to either forgo fragrance altogether or keep it at a minimum. You know how women don’t want to smell their dates coming a mile away? Neither do potential employers for job candidates.

4. Dress for the Role

I knew a guy in college who always dressed business casual. No matter where he was going—class, a study session, to Starbucks—he was always dressed like a businessman. His reasoning? He had big goals to become a successful entrepreneur one day, and the clothes gave him motivation. His attire made him look and feel like he was already in the role he desired.

The same is true for job interviews. If you want to land the job as the next operations manager or CFO, dress like it when interviewing.

5. Dressing for the First Day on the Job

In the event you actually land the job and you’re unsure of what the dress code is at the company, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask. Many newbies also like to visit a place of business in person to get a feel for how other people there dress so that they can plan their work outfits accordingly.

Read more in Interview Tips

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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