Here is a list of tips I have compiled, designed to help in making an outfit decision for an interview. The idea is to look smart, whilst feeling comfortable, and not wearing something that will distract you.
- Wear an outfit you are used to. If you generally wear trousers and a blouse/shirt/nice top, do this. If you're comfortable in dresses or a skirt, and you have something suitable, wear it. What you don't want to do is find a new outfit the day before your interview, in a style you've never worn before. You'll be constantly worried about how you look, and it will detract from your performance.
- Think about the colours you will wear. I have a standard - I always wear black trousers for "smart occasions". I know they look sensible, and I don't have to worry too much about whether the colour makes me look an odd shape or if it highlights my butt/legs the wrong way. Also, you might not want to wear light colours as you may get something on them. Food, dirt, accidentally rub against your car or sit in something on the train... any way you look at it, it's generally safer to wear darker colours. On the other hand, you could wear a lighter coloured top, and wear a cardigan or jacket. Then when you are safely to the interview location you can take your jacket off and display your nicely picked (and hopefully not nicely creased) top selection.
- Think about things like whether you get very hot and clammy. The colour/material you choose makes a huge difference if you end up stressing out, ending up hot and bothered, or if it is just a stuffy day. This is where it does come in handy to wear a white blouse or shirt - it is less likely to show damp patches. Alternatively wearing a cardigan into the interview might be a good option if you don't end up actually overheating. 100% cotton is a nice material that allows your skin to breathe. However, if you are a clammy person, careful you don't pick an older white top with unattractive pit stains...
- Pick something in your size. It's very tempting to choose something in the lowest size you can fit into, sometimes because it makes you feel good, sometimes because it holds you in in all of the right places. But you must do a couple of tests before buying that outfit. Top on this list... can you sit in it? If you can't sit down without fear of ripping the outfit, if you are in pain or if you have unsightly bulges in the wrong places, you need to reconsider the size you are buying. In addition, usually the size that fits most comfortably is the one that looks the best on you, too. Who needs to know what the number says?
- Don't wear revealing clothing. You might have the nicest pair of boobs in the world, or maybe your legs DO go up to here (*indicates shoulders*) but you don't want to distract the interviewer, who may not appreciate you showing off your body in such a serious setting. Try to keep it modest, and remember, sexiness can be achieved without flashing. Sometimes it's what's hidden that makes for a sexier outfit!
- Pick sensible shoes. There are any number of reasons for this. It's lovely if you can walk well in heels in any given situation, be it over hot coals, a stroll on the beach, mountain climbing or the 100m dash, but for those of us without that "superpower", it's important to remember a few things:
- Can you drive in those shoes? (You can keep a change of shoes in the car)
- Can you stand/walk in those shoes all day if you had to?
- You might be given a tour of the building. Can you climb stairs in those shoes or walk through offices without looking stupid or tripping up?
- What is the interview for? Is there a chance you could be shown/asked about things such as inventory checks or warehousing? Those looking for these types of job will want to show they can make sensible shoe choices going in.
- Accessorise smart. Wear enough jewellery that you feel you have done your carefully considered ensemble proud, especially if you have picked a lot of sober, sensible items and just want to glam it up a little, or even just to look a bit more feminine. Don't wear jewellery you are going to fiddle with, as it distracts you and it distracts the interviewer. Long necklaces are my weakness! Dangly earrings can be distracting in and of themselves. Bracelets can be noisy, or you may fiddle. If you're asked to do a typing task or any kind of interview tests, bracelets not only distract you with their scraping and tapping, but also other people in the room. This could be other interviewees, or it could be office staff trying to get on with their work, which might contribute to their decision to hire you!
- Don't wear too much make-up. Wear what you would usually wear out during the day. Smothering on your night time getup can come across as either overdressed/trying to hard, or just not well thought out. Looking fresh faced is great - and can be done with natural looking make-up or with minimal effort. Fake lashes, heaps of blusher and orange foundation don't give off the right impression if you're looking to be taken seriously in an office environment.
- Try for a no-fuss hair style. You can take as long as you want actually getting it ready, but what you will probably want to do is be able to touch it up or straighten up as easily as possible once you get to the destination. Something you can quickly run your hairbrush/comb through, or something you can fix quickly with your hands, is the easiest situation. If you have frizzy hair and you straighten it, try to use products that make the style last longer like frizz-ease, straight serum, mousse or hair spray. If it's wet out, take an umbrella. Don't wind your windows down during the drive if it's going to blow your hair about. And if you're really worried about your hair staying tidy in a loose style, tie it back into a plait, a ponytail or some other up-do that keeps it out of your face and from messing up, whilst styling the front to look like you've made an effort rather than scraping it together.
- Finally, get a second opinion. If you're worried how you look, or what you're doing with your hair, or what shoes you should be wearing, ask a friend you trust to be honest with you to give you their opinion. But ask them with plenty of notice - if they give you constructive criticism you want to have the time to review your choices, even if it means shopping again!
Good luck landing that job!