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7 Tips for Smart Dressing for Job Interviews

By Michelle Y. Drake

An interview is not a fashion show, but committing fashion faux pas can seriously damage your chances of getting the job. What we wear to an interview impacts how we’re perceived by the interviewer.

Show up wearing the clothes you mow the lawn in or with an exposed thong, and you’re not exactly screaming, “Hire me! I’m a professional!”

[Related: Dressing for Office Job Interviews includes tips about body piercings and tatoos.]

I recently interviewed Ashley Baker, editor of an international style magazine, and she had amazing insight into how to create a look that lets the interviewer know you mean business.

Tip #1: Leave the ultra-casual clothes at home.
Sloppy clothes might translate into sloppy work in the interviewer’s eyes. Walk into that interview looking clean, pulled-together and professional.

Tip #2: Err on the side of conservative.
Assume that the overall style of the office is conservative and choose classic items in neutral colors like black, navy or beige.

Tip #3: File “jeans” under “N” for “NOT at the Interview.”
Many designers have dark, well-cut jeans that look just like pants. But it’s a safer bet to just go with the pants instead! Wearing jeans might make the interviewer question how seriously you’re taking this interview.

Tip #4: Think a double-breasted suit is too formal? Then go for separates.
For the ladies, a classic A-line skirt and a silk blouse can look just as professional as a traditional suit. Sorry, guys: you’ve got to stick with the suit and tie!


Tip #5: Avoid the khakis.
Khakis tend to look wrinkled and disheveled. Pick a pant that will maintain a crisp look even after sitting, like wrinkle-resistant slacks or a pair of tailored pants with a little stretch in them.

Tip #6: No T-shirts!
Especially those cutesy message tees that are best saved for adolescents. Even under a conservative blazer, t-shirts are completely unprofessional.

Tip #7: Business casual clothes = 100% professional attitude.
If you know the environment of the company you’re interviewing at tends to lean toward the casual, you might take a chance and let your interview clothes do the same. However, no matter how casual the environment, your attitude towards the interview should ALWAYS be 100% professional.

[Related: Be Confident for Your Job Interview.]

More About Job Interviews

For laughs -- and some insight -- read 30 Bad Answers to Job Interview Questions.

For more about handling behavioral interviews, panel interviews, and telephone interviews, as well as preparing for job interviews, see the article list on the right.

About the author...

Michelle Yozzo Drake is the author of the book, "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Uncovering Mom's Leadership Secrets.".

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Guide to Successful Interviews

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