Dress for Interview Success

51By Dr. Alice Waagen
Workforce Learning

Ladies: You must convey that you are a competent professional at a job interview, so you need to look the part. Whether you are hip or tend to be a tad more conservative, opt for conservative when preparing for that all-important meeting.

Here’s how:

Hair: To make sure you look neat and cared for, start at the top. If your locks are long, pull your hair back or pull it up. If needed, use spray or gel to hold everything together. Remember, no bows, rhinestones or frills.

Clothes: Always wear a business suit or pantsuit. If you don’t own one, look online for a company that specializes in helping women dress for career transitions, or shop at a thrift store near you and ask the owner for help. Odds are good she’s helped others in need of wardrobe guidance.

Dark colors are best: When deciding on the color for your suit, black or navy should be your first choice, but if you think you look better in softer shades go for gray or brown.

Blouse: Your shirt should be equally conservative and subdued. Best choices are solid colors or a discreet print. Never, ever, show cleavage.

Shoes: To complete your outfit, go for a shoe with a closed toe and short heel, preferably a simple pump. Never wear open-toed sandals.

Role models: One of the best ways to find looks to emulate is to observe businesswomen who are wearing attire you admire. This week, take yourself out to lunch at a restaurant or deli near a professional business district and find a gal who looks fab in her dark business suit with matching pumps — and take notes.

And please, do me a favor: Do not look for wardrobe guidance on TV. I am constantly appalled by what Hollywood considers appropriate office wear. But if TV is the best resource you have, then tune into CNN and look at how the anchorwomen are dressed. Or use as role models some of the sophisticated politicians who have stylists on their side, such as Hillary Clinton.

Sniff test: Now that you look the part, remember that scent is important, too. Never wear perfume, or even strong-smelling deodorant. The reason is that many people are allergic to strong scents and you wouldn’t want to make the interviewer cough or wheeze.

Smile and breathe: Although this goes without saying, an essential part of your attire is your attitude. Be calm, relaxed and confident. Before entering the interview, take a deep breath, smile — and go get ‘em.

About Alice Waagen, Workforce Learning
Workforce Learning LLC is a leadership development company that helps provides managers and C-level executives with the skills and knowledge they need to build a more productive work environment. Since founding the company in 1997, owner Alice Waagen, PhD, has provided leadership development and executive coaching to Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in the Washington, DC area. In just the last three years, more than 55 leaders from 20 regional organizations have graduated from her unique leadership development workshop series. For more information, and to book a workshop or training session, contact Alice by Email.