My advice may be different than what you have heard before.
I’ve had many jobs, meaning I’ve been on more interviews than I can count. I’ve also been on the other side of the table, interviewing hundreds of job candidates, so I know a thing or two about dressing for an interview. Here are my top four tips.
Wear a Confidence-Boosting Outfit
I’ve posted before about my favorite Ann Taylor dress and jacket. That outfit–no matter if I’m up five or down five pounds–makes me feel like a million bucks. I also call it my “closer suit,” meaning I typically wear it during a final round interview. In my mind, if I can’t close the deal in that suit, it’s not meant to be.
I’m a bit superstitious, and I know part of this comes from being a former collegiate tennis and soccer player. Having played sports my entire life, you better believe if I was on a winning streak, I was going to wear that EXACT outfit–down to my underwear and hair tie–every match or game until I lost or the team lost. Once that happened, the outfit got switched out for something new. This has not changed in the “interview game.”
I truly believe that when you wear something that you feel incredible in, your confidence soars. So, I recommend you choose a few favorite go-tos to have on hand when your dream company calls you on a Monday and says, “Can you come in Friday for an interview?”
Better to be Overdressed Than Underdressed
My mom always used to tell me, “It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.” I feel that this is mostly true for interviews, with the exception being when you are interviewing at a company know for its casual culture.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve mentally discounted a candidate for his or her casual appearance. And sadly, most of the time, it has been women who underdressed for an interview. When someone walks in with wet hair thrown up in a bun, wrinkled clothes and mismatched accessories, it is REALLY difficult to concentrate on what they are saying. You think to yourself, “If the person cares this little about his or her appearance during an interview, how are they going to show up to work each day?”
If it is an ad agency, you need to think about how you can stand out from the crowd, but still exhibit professionalism. Consider wearing eye-catching heels, jewelry or a scarf and bring a sharp-looking tote.
Regardless of where you are interviewing consider stepping it up a notch higher than what you would wear on a daily basis if you actually worked at the organization you were interviewing at.
I’m not just talking about statement jewelry or handbags. Bring your A game: a professional-looking notepad and pen, crisp resumes in a portfolio or folder, samples of work (if applicable) and a bottle of water in case you are not offered one. When a candidate comes prepared like that, my confidence in their potential as a contributing employee skyrockets.
Regardless of what you wear, find a way to stay true to who you are. If you favor bohemian style and can’t imagine going to work every day in a suit, don’t wear one on the interview. As an employer, I’ve felt duped when a candidate came to all of the interview rounds looking polished, only to show up to work, day after day, in slouchy sweaters, pants that were too long and wet hair every day–certainly not someone I would want in front of a TV camera or presenting to my boss. Although I firmly believe that looks shouldn’t matter at work, your professional appearance should. So, if you are that aforementioned bohemian, maybe you wear your hair down in loose waves, with a few gorgeous long necklaces and eclectic bracelets (see pic to the right). You style will not only be appreciated, but you will definitely stand out–in a good way.