I remember when I started working in the 1980s. Professional women wore a uniform: a skirt (knee level or longer), a suit jacket that matches the skirt, a blouse with a tie, panty hose, and dark heels. It was kind of boring and not very comfortable.
Times have changed. These days women wear all sorts of clothes. There is no real uniform. This can be good or bad.
What do you wear to an interview? The answer is: It depends!
Why is it so many of these blog articles focus on “it depends”? Probably because most things depend on the circumstances. Many rules are based on individual circumstances.
Women these days should dress according to their personal styles with the awareness that first impressions count.
Hiring managers make their first and often final decision about a candidate subconsciously in the first few seconds of meeting you. The way you dress is one of the first things a hiring manager will notice. Here are some general guidelines:
- Wear business clothes every time you go to a business meeting, whether it is an interview or not. You never know where a single meeting will take you.
- Show yourself at your best advantage every time you leave your house
- Wear neat, clean, conservatively stylish, well-fitting clothes
- SHINE YOUR SHOES
- Carry a briefcase or portfolio with notes and an extra copy of your resume or two
- Get a good haircut with grey covered up if it makes you feel more confident
- Glasses clean and in good repair, preferably in a modern or classic style
There are certain exceptions for very creative jobs. Young people have a little more style latitude. In general though, you can’t go wrong with a conservative suit.
Here are some specific tips for women:
- A skirt or pant suit with a jacket. You could wear a dress and sometimes a jacket is not necessary.
- A nice blouse or sweater. Make sure it is not too low cut.
- Simple jewelry like a necklace, earrings and not too many rings or jingly bracelets.
- Nice conservative shoes is the norm, but you can use a little personal taste here. You can express yourself a with shoes as long as they are clean, a little distinctive, and go with your outfit.
- Stockings are no longer necessary. Most women no longer wear panty hose. Use your judgment. In a more conservative office environment like a downtown law firm, I might recommend it. In a regular office environment it may be less necessary.
- Manicured or neat fingernails. Don’t be excessive.
- No cologne or perfume. This is important. You never know for sure if the people you will be meeting are allergic or hyper sensitive to smell so it is safest to avoid cologne.
Before you begin interviewing, double check to be sure your wardrobe does you justice. Get a second opinion if you are not sure. The important point is to dress in a way that reflects positively on what you bring to the table.
Remember, if you have had several interviews and never get an offer, you are probably doing something to undermine your story. The Interview Doctor can help!
See other articles about interviewing: