How to Dress for an Interview (Women)
When men have to decide what to wear to an interview, there are not many ways to complicate things. Show a man a suit, shirt, tie and shoes and his choices are made. Things get a little more complicated for women, but the basic principles of a classic, professional and understated look remain the same.
That sounds simple enough, but the female side of the ledger is, as so often seems to be the case, beset by a lot more "dos and don'ts" than the male.
- Wear a conservative suit in a solid color or a subdued pattern.
- Skirt or pants will both work.
- Wear polished flats or low-heeled shoes.
- Make sure that nails are clean and trimmed.
- Choose a conservative nail polish.
- Wear a skirt that is too tight or too short.
- Wear anything too revealing.
- Wear too much jewelry.
- Overdo the fragrance.
- Overdo the makeup.
The general idea, then, is to aim for a look that does not call attention to itself or give an employer an excuse to say "no." In a slow job market, employers do not need much of a reason to move on to the next candidate in line and, since we do not live in the best of all possible worlds, first impressions count more than ever. This is as true in the interview as it is in every other aspect of the application process. Employers will not devote the time needed to get to the wonderful qualities that may well be hiding behind a bad first impression, whether they are scanning a resume, glancing at a cover letter or evaluating you personally from behind a desk.
If you have made it through the interview gauntlet, how you dress for your first day on the job may require some research. If your interview was on-site, you probably have some idea of the prevailing dress code, but you can fall back on the same principles that apply to the interview if you are completely in the dark. It is safer to overdress for that first day than to under-dress, but keep it simple in any event. Overdressing may also give you more freedom. It is almost always easier to turn a formal outfit into something more casual on the spot than it is to improvise something formal from a casual look.