Whether you’re preparing for your first interview ever or you’re a seasoned interview expert, there’s always a struggle of what to wear. Especially because, as a woman in business, it’s important to be taken seriously. A lot of that starts with a classy, professional outfit. Whether your interview is in-person or virtual, you want to perform your best, which is linked to looking good and feeling confident! If you need more convincing, here’s a Harvard study that has linked wearing make-up to increased performance. While you do not need to wear make-up unless you are more comfortable and confident with it, getting prepared and putting your best outfit forward to make a first impression at an interview is certainly important.
There are a few basic rules to figuring out what to wear.
The first is to identify the dress requirement of your interview. The quickest way to do this is to check your email confirmation or any correspondence from the company, as usually a dress code will be specified. If there is no dress code specified and you do have time before your interview to ask about the dress code, there is no harm with reaching out and following up with a question as to whether the attire expectation is business casual or business professional. You should ask at least a week in advance of your interview to give an adequate amount of time for a response. If you don’t have that kind of time, you should dress in business professional attire. Even if the company is known for a casual dress code, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially at an interview.
Another rule is to make sure that your outfit, whether business casual or business professional, aligns with your image, as well as the company for whom you are interviewing. If it’s a Big Four accounting firm or an investment bank, you will probably want to stay with black, gray, or another neutral color. You might want to wear a traditional-looking suit. For women, there’s a lot of choices on what to wear at an interview, as you can choose between pants, skirts, or even a classy dress with a nice blazer. Just make sure that you stick to neutral colors if you’re not sure of how a particular company reacts to different colors and styles. If you’re a creative major or if the company you’re interviewing with encourages showing personality through fashion, it’s definitely okay to incorporate some colors and fun styles!
Finally, you want to make sure that you are comfortable and that your clothing fits right. Because we are students, some affordable places to find new business clothes include Express, H&M, Zara, and you can even find good deals at outlet stores (such as Brooks Brothers). Large department stores like Macy’s often have big sales on professional attire, as well. If you want to splurge on a staple piece or two, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor are great options. Make time to take a trip to a tailor if your suit or pants aren’t fitting right, as it’s important to not only be comfortable but look the best that you can in your newest pieces. Additionally, because getting a piece tailored is relatively inexpensive, it’s a great way to make budget suits and pants look like custom pieces that fit you perfectly.
If your interview is business professional, here are some inspiration photos:
If your interview is business casual, here are some inspiration photos:
Remember, your first day, or even week on the job, should also probably be a time during which you overdress. Unless you are totally sure that business casual is okay, stick to wearing business professional to be totally safe. Then, as time goes on, see what other interns and employees are wearing.