Interview Attire – Dos and Don'ts

September 25, 2014

Each of us has asked it – What do I wear today?

That question is especially stressful when interviewing for, or starting, a new job.

We’ve all heard it said that it’s better to be overdressed, and this is great advice to follow. No one wants to be the person under-dressed at an event or meeting – you stand out for all the wrong reasons. How you choose to present yourself will represent your brand and make that important first impression.

what not to wear - dos and dont's

Be attentive to the clues others give you towards the environment you will be entering. Take this example from an interview I attended. Having chosen dress pants, low heels, a blouse and a cardigan, I walked out the door feeling confident. My interviewers, however, were both wearing blazers. When called for a second interview, my immediate thought was to ensure I wore my blazer. Showing you can pay attention to the small details of those around you is noticed by coworkers and clients, and demonstrates that you appreciate an office’s corporate culture.

Depending on the situation, your clothing choices for business environments will fit into one of the following categories (click each title for a full description and picture gallery examples):

A few tips to remember when adding to your business wardrobe:

  • Clothing should always be neat, clean, unwrinkled and free of animal hair – a lint roller should be your best friend!
  • The darker the tone of your outfit, the more professional your image will be.
  • Keep your shoes scuff-free and clean. For women, a classic style is always a hit, and you can experiment with materials such as patent leather if you like to add variety.
  • For men, the goal is to match your tie and dress shirt – for example, a light blue shirt pairs wonderfully with a tie in darker shades of blues and greys. You can experiment with adding a touch of brightness to your wardrobe with a bold coloured or patterned tie.
  • For women, neon orange nail polish is not interview appropriate, no matter what the fashion magazines tell you! Keep your nails short, tidy and manicured with a neutral colour (dark solids are appropriate on shorter nails, but must be taken off at the first sign of a chip). Using a nail buffer is an alternative for basic shiny nails. Makeup should be minimal –people should notice you, not your eyeliner.
  • Save the jeans for Fridays and only if you know a company participates in a dress down day. Denim should be clean, with no holes or frayed edges. Many styles are now available that mimic a dress pant shape and are the preferred alternative to casual jean styles which should be kept in the closet until the weekend.

Take these tips and make a statement that showcases the professional you are!

Pamela Galan is the Associate, Recruitment Programs (MBA), and is the “face of CPD” at the Ron Joyce Centre. She posts Co-op, summer and graduate recruitment jobs, answers general inquiries, schedules interviews and follows up with employers, and assists students with OSCARplus related issues.

Pamela’s Fun Fact: She has been freelancing as a Professional Makeup Artist for over 10 years, and you can often find her beautifying bridal parties on weekends.

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