A very close friend called me today to share in her celebration of securing her first interview with a really exciting company and had posed the question “What do I wear to an informal interview?” Great question.
What does it mean to be informal? Who draws the line between formal and informal? The boss does. And every boss is different. Anytime you have an interview, you are there to impress. You want to send the message that you are professional, savvy, refined and classy. Dress for success and I am not talking about Roxette.
It may sound cliche but it will make or break your interview. Image is everything and we all know it because the first thing we do is size people up by determining whether or not they have great personal care and of course that includes their outfit.
Here are some key tips when choosing what to wear for your big day.
1) Consider who you are interviewing with: Who is your audience? Is it the HR department, a mid-level manager, the head of the department or the CEO? Determine what is appropriate for them and the person above them. You never want to over dress or under dress so considering who it is that you are dressing for is key. Which leads me to my next point.
2) Do your research: I interviewed with Barneys and made a critical mistake. I did not do my research. Had I done that, I would have known that a conservative suit and conservative shoes did not have enough creative juices for the hiring manager. C’mon! It is such a basic concept and I failed to complete. When you interview with artists or creative people, get creative. When you interview with conservatives, be conservative. Find out who your audience is.
3) Suit it up! I always recommend wearing a suit to any interview. Chances are if you are on here reading these tips, it’s because you have an interview that isn’t a casual meeting. Find a well tailored, conservatively colored suit made from a nice material. Nothing screams cheap like polyester so make it a blend. I prefer black but any neutral is fine. Make sure that it is in your color pallet to best accentuate your skin and hair.
4) Choose the perfect shoe. Shoes speak volumes about a person. It has been recommended that you choose a mid-level heel to show that you are more interested in the job than being trendy. I disagree. But then again, I am not some mid-level manager in a cheap suit who would judge you on that. I think a shoe is a peek to your inner personality. I happen to admire a great pair of shoes but your research should give you your answer. I recommend closed toe shoes. Also consider where you may be going. Will you walk three city blocks to a coffee shop? Will you walk to various offices? You better be able to keep up and not have blisters popping. When in doubt, don’t do it. If you think that it may be inappropriate, it probably is.
5) Wear classic accessories. This is the time to choose diamond studs or a strand of pearls and a great watch. Keep it clean, crisp and classy. Trends are great but classic always wins
6) Get a Manicure. Have clean, well trimmed nails with a neutral color polish. This will give you a polished look and conceal any last minute chips.
7) Go easy on the perfume. What smells good to you may be offensive or non-tolerable by the one interviewing you.
8) Wear nylons. It is a professional statement and will polish off your look should you choose a skirt suit.
9) Wear a smile! I wish you luck on your interview and would love to hear your success stories. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Banana Republic
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