Women: Looking Your Best at an Interview
First impressions count. When you turn up to an interview, your interviewer will see you before they hear you. How you present yourself is thus of paramount importance. While companies have differing dress codes, interviews generally require the same, neat approach. The list of tips below reflects what is widely considered to be the most appropriate way to dress and groom yourself for an interview. Be sure you follow them to be able to claim your dream job!
- Wear a pant or skirt suit. Always choose the most conservative option if you are undecided.
- Be comfortable. Don’t wear a suit that is too tight or too loose. Sleeves that droop or waistbands that dig into you will cause you to shift around and be distracted by your clothing. Many shops provide a free alteration service for suits purchased with them. There are also lots of tailors out there who can make your suit fit just right.
- Go for dark, simple colors and patterns. Bright, short and sheer clothing is a no-no. While interviewers are known to dislike very short skirts, long skirts are also off the menu as these are too fashionable for the interview environment. Skirts that stop at the knee are ideal. You can easily buy these at any clothing store.
- The blouse you wear with your outfit should also be conservative. Avoid animal prints and bright colors, as well as lace, low-cut and sheer tops.
- Choose low-heeled, modest shoes that, while they don’t need to be new, don’t look old and shabby. Open-toed or open-backed shoes should also be avoided. If you are thinking about wearing the pair of shoes you went out clubbing last week, they probably aren’t the right choice!
- Make sure your outfit is freshly cleaned and ironed. Take it to the dry cleaner’s if that’s an option.
Hair, makeup & more
- Keep your nail polish and make-up neutral and understated. Long nails can be off-putting and here again it is a good idea to stay away from bright colors on your nails and face.
- Wear flattering but muted hair accessories and jewelry and limit yourself to a couple of pieces. Nothing too big, flashy or otherwise distracting.
- Think about the role you are applying for and what a professional outfit for this role would be. Generally, a suit is your best option. Even if the company you are interviewing for has a casual dress code, it is generally a good idea to dress up for an interview and look over rather than under-dressed. If you are undecided, here’s our mantra again, pick the conservative option.
- If your outfit is spick and span, you certainly should be, too! Have a shower or bath before your interview and wear deodorant but no perfume. Perfume can be overpowering, it is not to everyone’s taste and, worst of all, it can provoke allergies.
- You will need to do a lot of talking at your interview, so make sure your teeth are clean and your breath is fresh. Clean your teeth and do not smoke or eat pungent foods before your interview.
- When it comes to your hair, keeping it conservative is again key. It is not appropriate to wear lots of hair accessories in bright colors. Your goal is to look professional, neat and tidy, so an interview is not the place for creative, juvenile or experimental hairstyles. If you want to tie your hair back, try a simple barrette or wear your hair in a single, low ponytail.
For a second interview, you may be able to afford to be a bit more casual but keep it conservative and professional and dress up rather than down if you are in any doubt about what is expected.
While the above list may appear a little overwhelming with a lot to keep in mind, it reflects a widely accepted set of guidelines that have been compiled to help you impress at an interview. By following the above rules, you will present yourself in a way that shows professionalism and respect for your prospective employers and yourself. We’ll give you due credit though, the most important thing is what you are going to say and how you are going to sell yourself during the interview. Good luck!