What To Wear To A Job Interview

If a job interview doesn’t cause you even the slightest amount of stress, check your pulse – you might not be human. Job interviews are at the top of the list of stress inducers, and the ups and downs of the interview process can kick your hormones into high gear. The best way to reduce stress and increase the chances of landing the job? Prepare. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be. And that starts with how you look.

Yes, interviewers will judge you on your appearance. They may very well make judgments about your black nail polish, your purple hair and that tattoo snaking out of your shirt. It’s human nature. Forbes writer Ty Kiisel doesn’t mince words about the snap judgments people (even friends) will make about the way you present yourself.

So let’s get right to it! Whether you’re a man or a woman, here’s what to wear to a job interview.

1. Match your attire to the company vibe

First, don’t assume your only option is a stuffy suit. If your interview is at a company where the vibe is hip and edgy, you’ll look and feel overdressed. In a CBS MoneyWatch interview with Amanda Haddaway, author of “Destination Real World: Success After Graduation,” she recommends doing your research to find out the company dress code. If it’s surf shirts and flip-flops, don’t follow suit exactly, but do opt for a business casual look that’s tailored and polished.

For guys, that means a collared shirt and pressed tailored pants. Wrinkled clothes indicate a sloppiness that some interviewers might see as a cause for concern. Yes on the socks and belt, and no to leaving your sleeves unbuttoned.

Ladies, you can get away with a knee or midi-length solid colored skirt and long-sleeved blouse or a tasteful solid-colored dress. You don’t have to stick to black, but if you go with a strong statement color, don’t go crazy with the jewelry. No plunging necklines or backs and nothing higher than the kneecap.

2. Carry a handsome handbag or manbag

Ladies, you’re up first. That sloppy, slouchy purse with a zillion pockets and the Hello Kitty zipper has to go. What you carry over your shoulder matters. Your handbag not only ties your look together but it’s a clue to your professional style. This is your time to splurge on that well-crafted but understated bag that shows you mean business. Think brands like Coach that design handbags that withstand fads and get better with age.

Guys, don’t show up empty-handed. Consider a sleek leather messenger bag or briefcase. Whatever you do, leave the backpack at home.

3. Walk tall and confidently

For most women, a heel gives you a literal boost of confidence and can do the same for men. However, make sure the shoes are a comfortable height that doesn’t make you walk like you’re teetering on your toes. Avoid the peep toes, super skinny heel or sexy ankle straps.

Yes, shoes do make the man. Leather slip-on loafers with a slight heel will round out a business casual look, while lace-up leather dress shoes are more appropriate for suits. Give them a good buffing the day before your interview, so they’re polished and ready to go.

Finally, check yourself in the mirror before you leave for your interview. Would you hire you? OK, go knock ‘em dead.

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