Graduation is fast approaching, so here are some tips and tricks for nailing the visual element of a job interview. After countless hours of studying, suffocating student loans and plenty of head-scratching over what the future holds, it’s safe to say that nothing is looking more fashionable for the class of 2013 than a cap and gown.
Graduation is fast approaching, so here are some tips and tricks for nailing the visual element of a job interview.
After countless hours of studying, suffocating student loans and plenty of head-scratching over what the future holds, it’s safe to say that nothing is looking more fashionable for the class of 2013 than a cap and gown.
All of the hard work and dedication poured into a lifetime of academia is about to pay off—just as soon as you find a job, that is.
In this day and age, ideal jobs are not easy to come by. The interview process is more crucial than ever in making an impression, and it starts the moment you walk through the door. Whether we like it or not, what we communicate by our clothing is vital to presenting ourselves as the right candidate for the job.
Employers are seeking someone who can deal with coworkers and the public, and handle themselves with high standards. It’s vital to reassure an interviewer that you know how to take charge, and that starts with picking the right shirt and pants.
Once you land that job interview, make sure you do your research so you can communicate your professionalism. Portland State boasts a plethora of students with varying skills and talents who will be scattered across the world at companies with varying ideals and policies.
This means that “professional” comes in all shapes, sizes and styles. Many factors contribute to how one makes an interview wardrobe decision, such as weather, demographics, geographical region and the company mission.
It might mean a full business suit, or it could mean sneakers and jeans. Always err on the side of conservatism when considering wardrobe choices, and keep in mind that it is better to show up overdressed than underdressed.
Professionalism today has been redefined as it relates to uniforms, especially in the Pacific Northwest. We see a noticeably more casual work wardrobe than, say, on the East Coast.
For gentlemen, a collared shirt and slacks are a good starting point for casual interviews. If you are looking to find a work home in a more structured environment, then a suit is important to show that you want to rise to the traditions that uphold the company or business you are pursuing.
A few guidelines: Wear a collared shirt, nice pants and matching belt, socks and dress shoes; consider a jacket or suit and tie, depending on the job; aim for flattering and correctly fitted sleeve lengths and pant hems; and make sure your shirt is tucked in and not wrinkled.
Ladies: I recommend a dress, skirt and blouse or slacks and blouse combination. The possibilities of self-expression are more plentiful than for the guys, which can be a blessing and a curse. Start out by identifying the look you want to achieve, and then build on that within workplace-appropriate guidelines.
A few tips for women in job interviews: No cleavage, open-back blouses or low-cut pants; skirt hems should not be too short and pant hems should just hit the floor; try to avoid too-tight clothing; if you’re wearing heels, make sure you walk well in them; close-toed shoes are standard; and, of course, no wrinkles.
Communicate to your interviewer that you respect the job. It’s 2013, but many people running businesses today have been working for longer than recent grads have been alive: This means it is important to obey a workplace’s particular dress code. I also recommend that you get to know a good dry cleaner and tailor.
But what will make you memorable out of an afternoon’s worth of interviews? Make sure to wear something that distinguishes you from the pack.
Chances are an employer is going to seek someone who has a fresh personality. For women, this could mean wearing a piece of jewelry that is characteristic of your personality or choosing a memorably colored garment. Try to avoid loud and busy patterns, as they may distract from your conversation.
One does not have to forgo the trends of today in order to be professional—a common misconception. As long as you avoid indecent exposure, the fit of your garment is flattering and the feel of the outfit reflects your personality and the job position you seek, the possibilities are endless.
Men, I would advise eschewing assertive colors and embracing custom-tailored garments. Spending more money on a well-made wardrobe that can be worn routinely communicates efficiency and practicality, two important workplace characteristics. If you’re looking to add your own flair, consider details like a colored shirt, patterned tie or interesting cufflinks.
Finally, a few fashion cliches that are actually important guidelines for dressing for success for any job applicant: You want to be the person in the outfit, you do not want the outfit to “wear” you; dress for the job you want, not for the job you have; and, as always, when you look good, you feel good.
Congratulations class of 2013! Now go out there and get your dream job—or at least dress for it.