When you are invited for a job interview, you need to remember what that interview is about. Job interviews are your one chance to show your company not that you are super intelligent or have lots of experience, but that you are a team player.
That means dressing like a team player. And while the general guidelines for dressing for a job interview may seem obvious, there are small ways that people can slip up. Here are a few fashion mistakes that may seem tiny but can kill your chance at that career you’ve always wanted.
1. Dressing inappropriately
It should be noted that “dress appropriately” does NOT mean “wear a suit.” Yes, wearing flip-flops and jeans will look bizarre if you are interviewing with an accountant firm, but so can wearing a three-piece suit if you’re just looking for a summer job.
If you’re confused about what to wear, then ask the interviewer in advance when he invites you. And while it is also true that dressing too conservatively is better than dressing too casually, do not go totally overboard on your suit. A good dress shirt, a tie, and darker-colored clothes should be enough to get you through most interviews.
Note that all of this applies toward interviews conducted on Skype as well. Dress for a Skype interview like you would for a face-to-face interview. Don’t get lazy, like in one particular virtual interview according to Bloomberg where a student dressed appropriately above the belt but only wore boxer shorts underneath.
2. Wearing high heels
I recall one interview that I conducted with a student still in college. Her interview was fine, but when she entered and left the room, I could not help but notice that she struggled to keep from stumbling in her high heels. And I’d rather have a co-worker who was comfortable than one who is awkwardly trying to fit in.
In a vacuum, I would say that high heels are generally more professional than flats, so ladies should wear them if they are used to them. But if they are too high or affect the interviewee’s mobility too much, then it becomes a problem. Cosmopolitan notes that a good guideline is that ladies should stick to shoes which they are capable of running around in, even if that means a smaller or thicker heel.
3. Carrying too much stuff
Dressing appropriately for an interview is not just about what you are wearing, but what you are carrying with you. You should definitely bring your resume with you to make sure that the interviewer gets another chance to go over it. And depending on what kind of job you are looking for, your laptop or mobile phone could contain projects which you can show to demonstrate your experience.
But aside from that, carry as little as you can to the interview. No drinks (you should be able to ask the front desk for a cup of water before the interview), no food, and no books that are not related to your company or the industry. And I can’t believe I have to say this, but don’t bring your blasted parents to the interview. I actually had to deal with an interview like that once, and it was definitely an interesting experience.
4. Wearing unfamiliar clothes
You may be tempted to break out that special suit you haven’t worn in a year in an attempt to impress the interviewer. But all too often, what happens is that suit does not fit you anymore, and you look completely awkward.
Wear clothes which you have actually broken in a few times instead of something that is either brand new or you have not worn for a year. This means being honest with yourself and making sure you wear clothes that fit properly, even if it means going plus-size for your interview. That shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are plenty of places to buy ladies large-size clothes from, and then at least practice wearing your interview clothes in advance. That will help you know whether the suit looks good or whether you have to go with another alternative.
5. Not trusting your instincts
There are a whole lot of other things which any interviewee should be thinking about when he dresses up. Take care to cover up tattoos, don’t wear excessive jewelry or makeup, try not to be “sexy,” and so on.
But above all else, the easiest thing which you can do to figure out if you are prepared is dress up and look at yourself. Do you feel like there is anything wrong with how you look? If there is, then figure out what is wrong and see if you can alter it somehow.
A good interview outfit, above all else, should be something that you can feel confident and prepared in. Listen to your instincts and feelings when you are dressed up, and you should understand whether you feel ready for that interview.
Featured photo credit: In my Garden by Kent Wang via flickr.com