A job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences. You know your first impression is important, so everything must be perfect – from your composure and talking points to remember what’s actually on your resume. The last thing you want to worry about is making sure you’re dressed to impress.
The good news is that, often, an interview outfit doesn’t have to be something you go crazy about. In fact, if you can find a few pieces that can carry you from interview to interview, you can take the worry out of your clothing, and focus on giving a platform to your great ideas.Click To Tweet
In my senior year of college, I was just as confident in my fashion sense as I was my actual professional ability. As graduation day loomed, I drove to the local Banana Republic and nervously told an associate that I needed a “rockstar power suit.” Excitedly, the woman led me to a dressing room where she locked the door and proceeded to shower me in options pitched over the top of the changing room door.
I left with what I call my Pilot Power Suit. It’s so named because the navy blue color makes me feel like an airline pilot – in charge of my destination. When I put it on, I know I look strong – even if my knees are shaking.
That suit has carried me through every job interview I’ve had – and it’s never let me down.
While its success has been stellar, my suit wasn’t cheap. Now that I know the basics, I’m certain that I could have put together my own power suit with an Amazon shopping spree or a quick trip to a local clothing store.
I currently work in hiring for a tech startup, and occasionally I consider the clothing of the people I’m interviewing. I think, does this outfit help this person embody professionalism? Are they comfortable? Or, what’s best of all – do I not even consider their clothing? Does it even attract my attention?
As a manager, I want to hear your story, not the story of your clothes.
For those of us who are non-binary, or more masculine in our gender identity, this can be an easier choice. Picking items that look more like a traditional suit – trousers, a button-down shirt, and a blazer, are great interview staples that can exude professionalism. However, if you identify more femme, or want more variety, it can get complicated.
To start, I recommend starting with neutral bottoms. These can be black, dark blue, or even a dark brown. Normally, a person will wear trousers, but a knee-length pencil skirt is also a great option, especially for those in warmer climates.
These black trousers from ASOS are a great option.A great way to finish off a look is to top it off with a structured blazer. This can accentuate your waist, and emphasize you strong shoulders, on which you can hold the world. Click To Tweet
You have more of an opportunity to share your personality through your shirt. Usually, lighter colors are a great option here, to provide some contrast to the dark pants. The name of the game for suits is either solids or very small patterns, such as seersucker or pinstripes. If your shirt has a simple pattern, you may find it’s a subliminal way to let your personality shine through.
Plain shirts with details, like this shirt with a pussy bow, are a great way to add personality to your outfit.
A great way to finish off a look is to top it off with a structured blazer. This can emphasize your strong shoulders, on which you can hold the world.
This blazer has strong shoulders, but keeps a great silhouette by cinching at the waist, and can be the perfect topper to your outfit!
Considering these common themes, many of the clothing suggestions are those that make people look more masculine. Between trousers, collared shirts and blazers, what’s the difference between your suit, and that of a cis-gender mans? This can be the great power behind your interview outfit – it’s a uniform that can be a great equalizer.
However – it can also mute your strengths. As a strong person, you do not have to sacrifice your femininity to look professional. Instead, a sharp neutral dress is a great way to own your identity. Pick neutral colors, and top it with a structured blazer to show you know your power.
A pencil dress, like this plaid dress, contains equal parts femininity and professionalism.
As a strong person, you do not have to sacrifice your femininity to look professional. Instead, wear a sharp, neutral dress as a great way to own your identity. Pick neutral colors, and top it with a structured blazer to show you… Click To Tweet
Most people would encourage modesty in your interview clothing choices. This is a bonus for those who follow religions that require it. While focusing on modesty may go against your personal style, consider this – I want to hear your voice in the interview. Let your voice and your ideas do the talking, and don’t risk misrepresentation through your clothing.
Overall, when you’re picking your clothing – consider this final piece of advice. Your wardrobe should be a megaphone for your voice, not a competitor.