Your image is your packaging, it’s a preview of your skills, talents and character. Your outfit is like a movie trailer – it gives the interviewer a preview of coming attractions – your resume.
These days, appropriate business attire is difficult to define. What is appropriate for one organization may be too formal or informal for another. Your mother may advise you to wear a standard navy suit. But times have changed and that old-fashioned statement may get you eliminated faster than you can blink an eye.
So, how DO you figure our what to wear? Here are the areas to consider when creating your look.
- When your interview is scheduled, ask your interviewer about the dress code. Is it business formal, business casual, do they wear a uniform? What do people who have the position you are interviewing for wear?
- Be a fly on the wall. At least a couple days before your interview, go to the business to see what they wear for yourself. Sit in the lobby or on a bench outside the building in the morning or at lunch when employees are coming and going. Model your interview outfit based on the best of what you see people wearing.
- Does the company have a uniform? If so, choose an outfit that mimics the uniform so you look like you belong in the organization. If you’re going for a job as a flight attendant, wear something similar to the flight attendant’s uniform. If you’re going for a job at Target, wear red and khaki.
- In the United States, business dress is always modest. To be on the safe side, women and men should choose closed-toe shoes, short or long sleeve shirts and tops, necklines that completely conceal cleavage (and chest hair), waistbands that completely conceal caboose cleavage, and skirts that completely conceal all of the thighs. Underwear should always be invisible.
- Clothing should be clean and in good condition. Shine shoes. Clean and iron clothes. Fix or skip anything with stray threads, loose buttons, fabric pills, worn hems, and stains.
- Grooming. For men, neatly groom/trimm facial hair, ear hair, nose hair and arm hair. Other body hair should be concealed. Nails should be natural, clean and manicured. For women, neatly groom eyebrows and nose hair. Remove hairs on face, and legs (if you wear a skirt/dress). Nails should be clean and manicured.
Image is a reflection of your substance, not a substitute for it. Companies invest lots of time and resources in packaging to get customers to notice their products on store shelves. Your interview look merits time and attention so you make the right impression and get the opportunity to show off your skills and experience.