Strategic Interview Attire
By Tracy Laswell Williams, CPRW, President, CAREERMagic
to dress for interview success" is a frequently requested
topic in the workshops and support groups I conduct. Here
are a few strategic suggestions on looking your professional
best, no matter your shape, size, gender, or age:
© 1999-2016 Tracy Laswell Williams. All rights reserved.
the job is a major step up for you: Dress the part.
If that means borrowing a great watch and/or investing in
a fabulous new suit and shoe leather, then do it. Don't
forget to check out factory outlet and thrift shops for
real deals. Be prepared to mix and match so you'll have
enough outfits for multiple interviews.
the job represents a step down: If you don't want to
be the VP of Sales any more, don't strut into the interview
wearing a designer suit and power tie. Tone it down and
dress more casually -in a sports coat and dress shirt without
a tie, or a shirt and tie sans jacket, or a high-quality
knit polo with crisply pressed khakis.
you feel you are perceived as too young: Wear a serious
suit, quality accessories, and add a sharp-looking pair
of glasses (non-prescription models are available for whippersnappers
with 20/20 vision). Oh, and consider losing the spiky hairdo
you worry you'll be viewed as too old: Ask a few pros
about the best way to update your hairstyle (in my humble
opinion, shorter is always better for men who are gray or
balding). Neither men nor women absolutely have to sport
that gray if they don't want to - there are plenty of roads
back to your original hair color - just use your best judgment.
Make sure your eyeglasses don't date back to the 70s or
80s (think how spiffy you'll look with a smart pair of glasses
in the new high-tech materials). You might also want to
consider dressing a notch or two more casually.
you're overweight: Make sure your garments are high-quality
and well-fitted. Stand straight and tall. Seek expert assistance
with a reputable retailer specializing in larger sizes.
Go for color contrasts that result in slimming vertical
lines, such as a darker shirt with a lighter-colored jacket
or vice-versa. Add a splash of your favorite color to bring
attention to your face via a silk necktie or scarf.
you're an underweight man: Consult with a smart tailor
as to how to combine layers of clothing, well-starched shirts,
shoulder pads, generous cuts, and more substantial fabrics
to bulk up a bit.
you're a curvaceous woman: Don't flaunt it or you'll
risk being hired (or not) based on appearance. Avoid body-conscious
knits, tight or short skirts, and anything even remotely
resembling a peek at your cleavage. If you're ample-busted,
be sure to wear a jacket. Make sure your clothes fit well
and are attractive, but not seductive.
making strong scents: Your well-scrubbed self should
generate a pleasing, subtle scent that won't burn the eyes
of the interviewer. Skip the perfume and cologne altogether,
please! Don't smoke on the way to the interview, ever! Brush,
gargle, and use breath spray, please!
a charming chameleon: Use the target company's color
as your accent color if possible.
in doubt of what to wear for a given interview, ASK
your interviewer ahead of time. Companies these days vary
dramatically in conservatism of dress. In some of today's
entrepreneurial environments, the top folks may be sporting
shorts and flip flops when they interview you - asking ahead
of time ensures you don't show up looking like a dork in
a three-piece suit. Questions about how people dress for
a normal day on the job versus a big client presentation
day should be a part of your pre-interview intelligence
gathering. Oh, and once you have the job, emulate the dress
of those who currently hold your next position.
but not least - I'm astonished at the number of clients
who obsess about appearances but otherwise fail to prepare
for the interview. Do your homework on the company so that
you'll have a targeted interview agenda to go with that
Tracy Laswell Williams is an accredited resume writer and career
consultant who works with a diverse client base nationwide. She built
her company CAREERMagic five years ago on the premise that "great
minds think differently." Visit the company website at