Back in my days of interviewing for writing internships, I often pushed the limits on proper interview attire. From short skirts to sky-high heels, I didn’t quite understand what was going wrong in my interviews until I got a bit of harsh feedback through the grapevine. Although I’m not one to condone judgment of others for what they wear, the cold hard truth is that a job interviewer’s first impression of you is often heavily influenced by what you choose to wear to the initial interview.
With millennials being the largest generation in the workforce, workplaces are beginning to get more and more casual in terms of dress, so it can be easy to get more lax in your interviewing attire as well. However, at risk of sounding old fashioned, it’s always better to dress too professionally for an interview than to dress too casual. After all, you do want to let the interviewer know that you put in a solid effort to get this job, right?
Here are five ways you can avoid five of the most common interview attire flubs as you take the job market by storm this fall.
1. Over accessorizing
We all love our statement jewelry pieces, belts, bags, and shoes. The problem is, when you wear too many accessories, they can detract from what you have to say. A good rule of thumb when it comes to dressing for an interview is to keep accessories simple. Opt for flats or a small heel when choosing the shoes you’ll pair with your ensemble. About.com offers up some great tips for selecting the right shoes for an interview if you’re not sure whether the shoes you have in mind might work.
For jewelry, try to avoid large statement pieces and instead wear one or two small pieces that fit with the outfit you choose. A couple of simple jewelry pieces will be more than enough to personalize your outfit. No need for decorative belts or statement bags.
2. Neglecting workplace culture
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made while choosing the right attire for an interview was neglecting the workplace culture. Scope out the company’s Facebook and Instagram profiles to see if you can identify trends in the way employees are dressing for a typical workday. If they’re a casual company, you might want to opt for a dressy casual look. If you notice that the company is pretty conservative and employees are typically wearing business casual at the office, go for a professional business look for your interview.
3. Over doing it on perfume
When it comes to perfume, you’re usually better off without it in an interview. This isn’t because employers look down on a nice scent, but because it can be really easy to overdo it on your favorite scent – especially when you forget that you will be sitting in a small room with your potential employers.
Try skipping your perfume if you can. If you find that you don’t feel as confident without it, try looking into a few upscale scents and limit yourself to one simple spritz!
4. Letting prints and patterns speak for you
Like statement piece jewelry and over-the-top heels, crazy prints and patterns often steal some of the interviewer’s attention away from what you have to say.
Stacy Lindenberg, owner of Talent Seed Consulting said in an article Monster.com, “Better to choose subtle patterns over brighter ones, and dark or neutral clothing versus neon colors or anything distracting. You should be the focus of the interview, not your clothing.”
Glamour UK has an awesome gallery of potential interview outfits if you’d like a little guidance in regards to where you should draw the line on adding prints, colors, and patterns to your interview look.
5. Tech accessories and smartphones
As a millennial myself, I’ll admit that I’m tempted to pull out my phone or plug in my headphones at times when my nerves are high. If you’re like me and tend to reach for your phone or headphones when you’re under pressure, don’t do it before an interview!
You won’t give interviewers the vibe that you are able to stay on task when you’re glued to your phone or pulling out your headphones when they come out to the lobby to greet you.
The only exception on headphones is in the event of a Skype interview. Experts actually say that a headset is highly recommended in this case to increase sound quality on both ends of the call. Aside from that, leave your phone in your pocket or bag, and keep your headphones at home.
Although selecting the clothing you wear is an important part of expressing your personality, job interviews require that you follow a several simple guidelines in order to make the best first impression possible. That doesn’t mean you should wear clothing that makes you uncomfortable, but it does mean that you should choose items from your wardrobe that will complement your overall presentation rather than detract from your skills and qualifications.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid some of the most common job interview attire fails as you search for your next internship or job!