March 1, 2016
By Lauren Pinkston
Preparing for job interviews goes beyond researching the organization, practicing your elevator speech and leveraging your communication skills; you have to look the part if you want to be a part of the company. Your interview is a great way to set a first impression and the first thing employers will see when you walk through the door is what you’re wearing. There are basic guidelines in dressing for all interviews. These include wearing close-toed shoes, unwrinkled clothing and professional garb. However, it’s important to keep the company’s culture in mind while dressing for interviews.
Although professionalism is key in the context of every interview, being overdressed for an interview with a start-up company or in a creative field may translate differently to the employer. Frank Dahill, senior recruiter and branding expert at Sam & Lori Associates, told the fashion website StyleCaster, “People in creative firms may see you as less creative, a little uptight, not someone who will roll up their sleeves and get dirty.”
For interviews in creative fields, consider a balance between professional clothing and personality. Try incorporating a little color or a fun pattern on a basic piece, such as a button-up shirt or pumps. Trend-driven accessories, such as jewelry, a tote bag or stylish shoes will show employers your personal style, while incorporating sophistication.
For more traditional and corporate positions, stick to a suit in a neutral color, such as black, blue or grey. Keep accessories conservative and wear light makeup.
“Keep it classy,” advises Ryan Kahn, founder of The Hired Group, which offers personalized services ranging from resume revisions to internship and job placement, and MTV’s Hired career coach. “Nothing too vibrant, bright or distracting.”
Alaina Kornfeld, senior graphic design major, shares her style tips for dressing in a professional setting:
“I would describe my personal style as classic, preppy and girly,” Kornfeld said. “I love Dior because it’s super girly and the runway shows are magical.”
When asked about factors that influence her purchases Kornfeld said, “I’m definitely conscious of price, but quality is also important. There’s no point spending money on something if it’s going to fall apart after wearing it twice.”
Kornfeld agrees that dressing appropriately for an interview is imperative.
“It’s definitely the first way people see you as a job applicant,” Kornfeld said. “It’s a good first impression and it’s a good way to show that you’re put together and professional.”
Her go-to professional outfit is “a black skirt to start, because it can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the environment, then a different colored top or sweater and a blazer on top.”
Her advice for peers as they put together outfits for interview is to “be comfortable and wear something that you feel confident wearing. If you wear something that you wouldn’t normally put on, you will visibly look uncomfortable. You need to wear something that shows your personality and shows the employer that you’re prepared for the job.”