3 Simple Rules for a Sharp Interview Outfit

March 25th, 2015 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

Interview Outfit

Most interview preparation is about your words: what to say and what to ask employers. Yet your appearance holds equal sway.

No one picks a product off the shelf, even a superior one, if the packaging appears slipshod and ill-conceived. Good interviewers package themselves the right way and their interview outfit is critical to that image.

Finding the Right Outfit for the Dress Code

A good interview outfit isn’t dictated by dollar amount or designer brands. Making a good first impression depends on your ability to read expectations and gauge the company culture. What’s appropriate for an edgy startup differs greatly from what’s appropriate for a Fortune 500 firm.

Determine the company dress code beforehand. Always dress one level above it: casual dress codes mean at least business casual attire and business casual dress codes always means business professional attire. Walk through businesses’ doors and your outfit should make it clear you’re there for an interview.

Choosing a Color Scheme that Fits You

You want your interview outfit to look good, but you don’t want it to command all the attention. A macaw is a beautiful bird. However, a suit or blouse with every primary and secondary color represented hits grotesque levels of tackiness.

There are three basic options when selecting the color scheme for your interview outfit: the black/white, the single color theme, or the multi-color pairing.

Black/White – It’s the safest route. Black and white always go together because they’re not technically colors (black is every color absorbed by an object and white is every color reflected). However, this can appear too conservative to some.

To keep judgments low, alternate between black and white (i.e. black coat, white dress shirt/blouse, black pants/slacks/long skirt) or mix in gray garments to give your interview outfit some variety.

Single Color Theme – A good interview outfit can stick to one color without seeming bland. Deep, rich shades combined with black or white make a powerful statement.

On the other hand, if you want to use different shades of the same color, it’s best to make selections in threes. Contrast in this instance is much lower.

Color Wheel

Multi-Color Pairing – Different colors can liven up your interview outfit, as long as you’re smart about the pairings.

The complimentary color wheel is one way to achieve that. Blue pairs with orange, yellow pairs with purple, and red pairs with green. Though you’d imagine they’d clash, there’s an odd harmony between the two colors.

Another is through the use of analogous color schemes, which partner colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. You can use two or even three colors, but as it gets a bit complicated, tread with caution.

There are other color combination you can use (triad and tetradic color schemes) but you risk overwhelming your interviewer’s senses. Keep it simple and avoid the macaw look.

Keeping the Bling Simple

All that glitters isn’t gold in an interview. In fact, you want to keep eye-catching jewelry to a minimum.

The whole purpose of a good interview outfit is to send a subliminal messages of success. Gold chains, gaudy bracelets, and dangling earrings are too overt. They distract from the content of your message by giving interviews a secondary point of focus. Simple wedding bands or earrings are really the only exemptions.

The Finishing Touch

In the end, simplicity is the best choice. You don’t need to look like you’re strutting off the runway at NYC’s Fashion Week to succeed in your interview attire. Pick garments one step above the company dress code, choose a clear color scheme that works for you, and leave flashy jewelry sitting in your dresser. A backup outfit can be nice too.

Put together an interview outfit like this with a solid interview presentation and any interviewer will be almost unable to pass up the full package you have to offer.

by James Walsh

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