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How to dress for a job interview

Aug 23, 2019

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Thirty three per cent of hiring managers admit to mentally dismissing candidates within the first 90 seconds of meeting them, and their decision isn't dependent on experience or qualifications. 

A resume is a job seeker's professional first impression; however, how candidates present themselves during the initial in-person interview affects their chances of getting a second one - and 55 per cent will be dismissed during that first minute an a half because of how they dress, act and walk through the door.

Furthermore, 65 per cent of hiring managers specify that fashion could be a deciding factor between two almost identical candidates.

When you're invited in for an interview, here's how to dress to professionally impress. 

Hair

It’s tempting to view an interview as a very formal occasion, and it is an important event; however, when it comes to your hair, fancy up-do’s are interview don’ts. “You don’t want to overdo it”, advises Christa Mancino, an Account Manager with Procom. “You should avoid things like getting blow outs or wedding-type up do’s before your meeting. You don’t want to have your hair look like something you didn’t or couldn’t do yourself, or this can cause the interviewer to become skeptical of your actual capabilities.”

Your locks shouldn’t be a distraction, but they should be clean, brushed, frizz free and combed away from your face or tied back in a simple style. If you're a fan of keeping it short and sweet, ensure that your hair is brushed and styled with minimum gel.

Makeup

Your face definitely paints a picture of what you present to the world, but leave the heavy strokes for after-hours. “You should wear the makeup, not let the makeup wear you. Meaning, if it's very noticeable, it's too bold,” says Valerie Anderson-Migliore, a Technical Recruiter with Procom.

Your tones and colours should be as neutral and natural as possible, so be subtle and fresh-faced with low-key applying. You want to feel like your most confident self, but it's always good to keep in mind a professional environment.

Any nail polish should be neatly applied without noticeable chips, and ideally, be of a neutral tone.

Clothes

Seventy per cent of hiring managers admit to dismissing candidates for being too trendy.

First things first – are you interviewing at a start-up or at a corporate company? The type of business you’re applying to will affect the business of choosing your outfit. Pre-interview research will reveal insights into the company’s corporate culture. Once you uncover the dress code, choose an outfit just a notch above what everyone else is wearing. Adding a blazer to complete the ensemble will never go out of style. 

Ladies

Always focus your fashion on the conservative side. Dress professionally – devoid of any spaghetti straps, low cleavage, tight dresses or short skirts. Anything too revealing will be an immediate put off. You want to be conservative and work appropriate.

A common consensus is that a suit and tie is your best corporate environment bet, and business casual will carry you through a start-up interview. Always ensure your dress shirts and pants are wrinkle and stain free, and are tucked in upon arrival. 

If your pants or skirt have belt loops, make sure you're wearing a belt that matches your shoes.

Accessories

When it comes to jewelry, less is more; because just like make up, accessories should enhance and not overwhelm. Stay away from dangling or big hooped earrings, chunky rings, and avoid arms full of bracelets -- anything that can distract or make clanking noises when they touch. 

A tie can speak to your personality but it can also be a distraction. “Love a bold tie for other days, but for interviewing, you don't need the distraction,” says Marnie Pertsinidis, an Account Manager at Procom. “Also, everyone has a different idea of bold, so best to err on the side of conservative.” When you're heading out the door, double check that you aren't sporting any stains or wrinkles and that your shirt is properly tucked in.

Shoes

Ladies
Here’s a rule of thumb, when it comes to interviews: An open toe is a no-go, and stilettos are best left in the closet. Valerie advises, “Scuffed, shabby shoes and too high heels are always a turn off. Also ladies, if your heels lose their rubber tip, visit the shoe repair!”

Gentlemen
Ensure your dress shoes match what you're wearing and you don’t have any notable scuffs, stains or mud/dirt on them.

When dressing to impress, it's important to also use common sense and gear your appearance towards the job itself and the industry. For instance, if you're looking for a job in fashion, there are fashion norms that are more acceptable than if you're applying to a role in the finance industry.

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