How do I loathe job interviews? Let me count the ways. The stress of putting together the perfect job interview outfit is only part of it. There’s the cringe-inducing, blatant self-promotion (“I’m a real go-getter!”). The outright lies (“I’m passionate about financial software systems”). And how to genuinely answer the question “What are your weaknesses?” (“I just give and give and give to my job until there’s nothing left inside”).
We’ve all been there. Fortunately, the job interview process isn’t something that one has to go through too often. If it is, then I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you should look into why you’re getting fired so much.
To help you get through your interview without succumbing to self-loathing, here are my three top tips to make at least one part of the process less daunting: what to wear.
Always look polished
Appearance matters whether we like it or not for reasons I’ve talked about before. To land the job of your dreams you’ve got to look like you’ve got your sh*t together. So in the days leading up to the interview, start preparing your job interview outfit. It’s all in the details:
- Get the key pieces dry cleaned
- If anything is prone to pilling, get to work with a de-piller. I use a sweater stone which is a god-send for de-fuzzing cashmere and wool pieces
- Choose shoes that are easy to walk in. Polish and get rid of any scuff marks
- If you have time and the resources, get a blow dry that day. I always feel a teeny-tiny bit like Wonder Woman when I get a blow dry.
- Get a manicure, or if you’re not into manicures make sure your nails are neat and tidy
Dress for the company you’re interviewing for
A lawyer friend of mine once interviewed for a job at a television production company. She turned up in a suit, but with a pink shirt as her attempt at being “media”. The interviewer turned up in tailored short-shorts (just one step away from hot-pants) and gold high heels (seriously). My friend got the job, but she might have worn something less conservative and which allowed her to express her own classy style nonetheless – probably not hot-pants though.
If you can, shake down your network to find someone who already works at the company you’re interviewing for. If that doesn’t produce a contact, find someone who works at a company with a similar environment. Ask them (amongst other things) about the dress code. Whatever that dress code is, smarten it up a notch and then put together your interview outfit accordingly.
Express yourself (within limits)
If it is a corporate or professional services environment you’re going into, keep the foundations of your outfit (i.e. dress, trousers, skirt, jacket) sharp, classic and conservative. A well-tailored blazer and structured handbag are always a good idea. But always give hints of personality. It might be with interesting sleeves, make your tailored trousers high-waisted ones, or add unique accessories – big earrings, personal keepsake pieces, fabulous shoes.
If you’re interviewing at a media or creative company, you’ve got a lot more freedom to put together a job interview outfit that expresses your individuality and style. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. But because it is an interview, don’t go over the top with the self-expression, and don’t ever, ever compromise on professionalism. Cover up arms, cleave and tatts.
Any other tips or interview outfit disaster stories? Leave a comment!