We all know the first impression is vital when meeting for the first time. I was amazed to learn in a communication class about 93% of communication between 2 individuals is non-verbal. Back in the days when I conducted interviews, a person’s demeanor and image definitely played a role in my hiring decision. With the current economy, jobs are hard to come by and there are additional competition from new graduates of various colleges and universities. So how can people put his/her best image forward to gain an advantage over other interviewees?
Since first impression is important, I asked my good friend and savvy image consultant Michelle T. Sterling, the founder of Global Image Group, to give us some pointers when putting together that important outfit for the interview. Michelle has been featured in many media such as: The San Francisco Business Times, Minneapolis Business Journal, World Talk Female Entrepreneur Radio, FabJob.com, Monster.com, Sales and Marketing Management, Audrey Magazine, American Way Magazine, Washington Woman, Associated Press, Women's Health Magazine, Men's Health Magazine, The New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, BBC London, Business Week, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire Magazine UK, InStyle Magazine UK and Details Magazine. I used to spend hours trying to figure out what to wear to make the best first impression. I wished Michelle was around to help me back then. Now, we are going to offer useful tips so you can get that extra hour of beauty sleep before “the big interview.”
Part 1, How should women dress for that interview or important meeting?
1. How should I dress for an interview in a conservative industry, such as banking, corporate law, and government?
In general, you want to appear as neat and professional as possible and aim to wear a tailored, structured suit. Women should wear a dark colored suit such as charcoal, navy, or black. A good fabric of choice is virgin wool because you can wear it for 2-3 seasons. Skirt suits are for more formal industries. The shirt should be crisp, tailored, and buttoned-down in white or light blue.
2. How should I dress for an interview in the engineering and science industries?
Depending on where you are in the country, you should wear a well-structured jacket and if not, a button-down shirt and slacks. Interview attire tends to be more formal on the east coast.
3. What are some things that women should NOT wear an interview?
Just say no to: fishnet stockings, tight undergarments, midriff tops, strappy sandals (not professional enough), stilettos, gaudy nail polish, headbands, hats, and nails that are too long. If you want some toes to be free, wear peep-toe shoes. Clothes with polyester, spandex or shiny fabric are not your friends for this occasion. Avoid frilly tops as well. For nails, we suggest subtle colors from the Essie nail polish line.
4. How should I dress for an interview in the retail and service industries?
A general rule of thumb is to look as neat and put together as possible. For the retail and fashion industries, you can dress slightly more fashionable. In the hotel and service industries you can dress more professional.
5. Should I dress according to the job that I am applying for?
You should dress one level above the position that you are applying for in order to build your credibility. Dressing this way will show that you are taking initiative and that you want to move up in the ranks.
6. What are some guidelines on makeup and grooming?
For positions in the conservative industries, you should aim for a Bobbi Brown Cosmetics minimalist look. Remember that you can define your features while looking natural. For fashion industry interviews, you can be a bit more dramatic with the makeup application. Piercings are best if they are for your ears, if they are anywhere else on your body we recommend that you remove them to add to your credibility.
7. What about accessories?
Your shoes should be leather, and closed-toe with a non-chunky heel (no more than 2 inches high)
Jewelry should be simple, tasteful, and small like pearls. If you are wearing a skirt, pair it with tasteful hosiery.
Pack your things in a black structured tote bags are most functional because you can carry more in it.
8. How do you exude power and confidence without being too bold?
Women can do this by wearing pinstripes and creating dark/light contrasts such as black and white.
9. What if you cannot afford a tailored suit?
For your professional career, you must invest in flattering suit. You can find an affordable Tahari suit at Macy’s.
I want to thank my darling gal pal for her insightful expertise. She is absolutely fabulous with her clients and a ton of fun as a shopping partner in crime. Savvy readers, I hope this will give you an edgy over competitors and good luck to anyone looking for a new career or starting one.