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Personal Growth

Personal Growth

The College Graduate's Guide to Looking their Best For an Interview

When you prepare for your first interviews post-college, your fashion choices are every bit as important as preparing for the interview questions. One of the mistakes young women make in their careers is not dressing the part. When you’re straight out of school and starting your career, it’s essential to put your best fashion foot forward. Fashion is a reflection of your self-worth and of where you see yourself going in your career.

I am sure you’ve heard the term “dress for success.” This statement could not ring truer than the way you dress for an interview. By dressing like the winner you know you are, you are already ahead of the process. It is competitive in the job market, especially if you are just entering the workforce. Attire is one of the areas that can help you stand out from your peers.

It is true that appearance is not everything. Your knowledge is key for landing the position. Yet equally important is your demeanor and the way you present yourself visually. This is how you make your first impression. Your prospective employers will make judgments based on how you present yourself for the interview. Also, they will notice your confidence. All of this can help land you your dream job…or help it slip away.

Do your research on the business environment of the company where you’ll be interviewing. Think of yourself as an ambassador for the company while maintaining your personal brand. Show that if you worked for this company, you would always be presenting it in the best light.

Many business environments feature a “business casual” attire, but people often mistake this idea for dressing in a relaxed way. Your business attire is not meant to be the same attire you wear to the gym or the beach… or even on the weekend. Regardless of whether the company follows “business casual,” you should dress more formally than normal for an interview. You’ll have time later to learn the ins and outs of “business casual” in your new workplace. For the interview, I always remind everyone of the importance of the first impression. Here is the time that being over-dressed to a degree works in your favor. This is the time to look your best self professionally, yet not to go over the top.

Fashion Tips for Your Interview

Consider the type of business where you’ll be interviewing.

  • For a corporate, legal or finance position, choose a conservative look even if they say business casual. I would suggest a crisp pant or skirt suit with a button-down shirt.
  • For a marketing, PR or advertising position, you can dress similarly to a conservative corporate look, but perhaps add a pop of color through a sweater or blazer, or choose a non-intrusive print blouse. Perhaps pair your top with a pleated skirt.
  • For both industries, dresses are always a winner. Choose a classic silhouette. You might wear a belted shirt-dress that is professional or a print or polka dot pattern. A dress shows style and fashion while still showing you mean business.

For any interview, follow these fashion tips:

  • Fit is key to looking sharp. Your outfit should not look ill-fitting or slouchy. At the same time, it should have enough room so you can sit and walk comfortably in your look.

  • Focus on cleanliness. Follow hygiene, such as showering and brushing your teeth. Make sure your hair and nails are well groomed. Your clothing should be free of stains and wrinkles.

  • Look polished. You should present yourself with a manicure and a professional haircut. Wear light and classy makeup, and use a light fragrance.
  • Avoid dressing too trendy. This is not the time for a fashion show. When in doubt, go for a classic suit.

  • Choose smart fabrics. Invest in wrinkle-free fabrics with some stretch. These options will help you look your best effortlessly.

  • Avoid transparent items. Instead, go for an elegant look.

  • Choose conservative shoes. Your shoes should be polished. Avoid open-toed shoes or flip-flops for the interview even if the business environment allows for it.

  • Add your personality through accessories. You have the opportunity to add a touch of color through accessories if you pair them with a neutral like gray, beige, navy or brown. You could show your personal style with a scarf or necklace. But be careful with accessories. They should not distract from your first impression or the conversation during an interview, and you should choose minimal accessories in corporate, legal or finance companies.

Fashion is not the only consideration for your interview. You should also:

  • Think of your demeanor and your posture.
  • Ensure you smile and shake hands firmly.
  • Get to bed early the night before your interview.
  • Allow for extra time for arrival in case there is traffic or an unforeseen issue.
  • Follow up by sending a thank you note after the interview.

Make a good first impression to ensure your interviewer sees everything you have to offer the company. Focusing on your fashion choices allows you to present yourself in the best way possible. When you’re confident in the way you look, you’ll feel more confident answering those interview questions too.

Be sure of yourself and look the part, and you should have no problem succeeding with your interviews!

fotini xoxo

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Written by: Fotini Learn
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