Dress to Impress

You may have heard that first impressions are important, but do you know how much time you have to make one?  Seven seconds; within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, they will have formed a solid impression of who you are.  

On a job interview, you’re marketing yourself to a potential employer and the first thing they see is you.  Proper grooming and dress won’t get you the job, but some psychologists suggest that just a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining character traits.  Being mindful of this research and confident in your appearance will give you a competitive edge and create a positive first impression.

Dressing for success is often determined by your industry. You may be dressing differently for an interview in a high-tech IT firm than you will for an interview in the financial services sector. It’s best to find out about the dress code (you can ask your recruiter or HR) prior to the interview, so that you fit in with the organization.

What to wear?

This will depend on whether you are going into a professional or business casual environment.  The definition of business casual varies widely, so asking what’s appropriate is always a good idea.

If the environment is one where you would wear a suit, a well-tailored 2-piece gray or navy-blue suit gives a great first impression.  Make sure that it fits well, and is freshly pressed, so that it shows you care about your presentation, and that you are detail oriented.

If the environment is more casual, you could wear dark dress pants and a jacket/blazer. A jacket or blazer over a polo/blouse or collared dress shirt may be acceptable in some situations.   Choose a solid color that isn’t distracting.  Busy patterns draw the interviewer’s attention away from you. 

Another great rule of thumb is to match your belt and your shoes. Those small details provide a nice polished look.

If you choose to wear a nice skirt or dress, a longer hemline is suggested.  If you are wondering if it’s too short – it probably is.

Grooming

It goes without saying that proper hygiene and grooming always make a good first impression.

  • Make sure your hair is well groomed.
  • If wearing makeup, it should be subtle so that it enhances your features, but not overstated.
  • Jewelry should be kept classic and minimal.
  • If you’re unsure about the company’s policy regarding facial piercings and tattoos, it’s best to take them out and cover up until you know the expectations.

Pay attention to the details and dress for the job you want, but remember that dress is not all that goes into making a good first impression.  Make sure you’re comfortable and feel confident in what you’re wearing.  Then, add good posture, a solid handshake, and a smile to put your interviewer at ease and convey a friendly attitude. Then, you’ll be ready to focus the interview on your skills and qualifications for the position.