Presentation is Everything – 8 Tips to Dress for Your Successful Job Interview

You have an interview – time to pull out that cute new mini skirt and tank outfit you got last week.

Not so much.

Listen, I have a closet full of fun clothes I like to pull out when I want to change up my regular go-to of yoga pants and t-shirts. I try to keep up with the latest fashions and purchase what I think is considered stylish; although, if you ask my 21-year old he would beg to differ. I wore a frayed jean skirt the other day, and he stared at me with an appalled look and asked if I thought it was the 90s. Apparently, jean skirts aren’t in any longer. Who knew?

On those rare occasions when I have plans outside of the house, and I’m feeling particularly sassy, I’ll throw on one of my trendy items. I might even show some leg or wear an off the shoulder top. It’s fun to dress up and feel good about ourselves, right? When I come downstairs wearing makeup my kids all take double takes and ask where I’m going, as they know I don’t wear make up for hanging around the house. My youngest even commented once, “Mom, you look so fancy!” If he wasn’t five at the time, I might have taken it as a back-handed compliment ­– if putting on makeup was all it took to transform me that much, I can only imagine what I normally look like.

However, my wardrobe of yoga pants and trendy clothing are only suitable for certain occasions – job interviews are not one of them. What I would wear to go out to dinner is not what I would wear to an interview. What I wear to a party or special events like weddings may not be suitable either. We all know we have one chance to make a first impression; a job interview is not the place to waste the potential positive impact it can make.

Here are my top eight tips for dressing for success.

  1. Don’t take fashion risks. Unless your interview is with Anna Wintour, or your job depends on your fashion sense, a job interview is not the place to try out that new trendy off-the-shoulder shirt that accentuates your shoulders. Not to say that you can’t wear it once you get the job if their dress policy allows it; just don’t try it out now.
  2. Avoid bold colors. I probably take this one more seriously than most. My wardrobe palette is not very bright to begin with. I have shirts in every shade of gray – yes, probably 50 shades of it. I’m also drawn to white and black. I throw in the occasional magenta or cyan shirt, but those are far and few between. When you walk in the door to your potential employer, you do not want to be remembered for the eye-blinding fuchsia blouse you wore, or the unnecessarily bright blue tie that seems to enter the room before you do. Bold and bright hues can be distracting. You want the focus to be on what you can offer them.
  3. Minimize your accessories. Along with the same theme as avoiding bold colors you also want to avoid over accessorizing. Some good guidelines to follow are:
  • Limit yourself to one bracelet and one ring, if any at all. You don’t want to bang and clang while you’re going over your job history.
  • Don’t wear elaborate necklaces. These are distracting and an unnecessary addition to your outfit. You want to be understated.
  • Wear small, simple earrings. No big hoops or dangly earrings that challenge the integrity of your ear lobes.
  • If you wear a watch, make sure it’s not flashy. I’m about the bling just as much as the next girl, but maybe forgo the diamond-studded Rolex for another time. Same goes for guys.
  • Facial piercings. No. Until you know the dress code and what is considered acceptable, take all facial piercings out. That includes tongue piercings. If you think you’re able to conceal it, you’re wrong. Take it out.
  • If you must wear a scarf, make sure it is simple. You don’t want a large, oversized scarf taking over the interview.
  • Although a nice stiletto can top off a look, maybe trade in the stilettos for a sensible 1-inch pump. Flats are always a good choice too. You don’t want your first impression to be one of you falling on your face and leaving with a sprained ankle. And please, absolutely no sandals or flip flops.

Bottom line here, simple is best. If you’re questioning any accessory, err on the side of caution and replace it with something understated, or just take it off completely.

  1. Professional over trendy. For guys, this means wearing a suit. In some instances a nice pair of slacks accompanied by a button-up shirt and tie works just fine. You want to emanate professionalism in every way. A nice, pressed suit will accomplish this.

For us gals, same goes. If you own a business suit, break it out. If you’re more comfortable in a skirt or dress, make sure it is business-like. Nothing flowy. Nothing tight. Nothing short. A good rule of thumb on length is at or below the knees. Do not show cleavage or excessive skin.

  1. Don’t wear perfume or cologne. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good bottle of perfume. Who doesn’t like to walk by someone and inhale a delicious concoction of cherry blossoms and Argentinian flowers? Okay, to be honest, a lot of people. There are many people who are sensitive to scents, have allergies, or may not like your aromatic choice. Skip the spray and maybe put on an extra layer of deodorant if you’re worried about smelling good.
  2. Hat or not to hat? Not to hat. Save it for the ball field or rodeo. Hats don’t belong in an interview.
  3. Cover up the tattoos. I realize tattoos are becoming more and more socially acceptable. But believe it or not, some people still feel they are inappropriate in the workplace. Or that they represent their brand in a way they do not want to convey. If it is at all possible to cover them up with clothing, do so. If you have tattoos that are not so easily concealed, do your best. Again, until you know the dress code don’t assume something is acceptable.
  4. Be comfortable. Interviews can be daunting and downright nerve-wracking. You want to do everything you can to calm your nerves. Wearing clothing you’re comfortable in eliminates one more thing you have to worry about. Being comfortable and choosing something that represents the best you possible will go a long way in making sure you’re prepared for the big day.

Good luck with your job searching!



By |2018-08-24T13:05:11+00:00August 11th, 2017|Categories: Before the Interview, During the Interview|3 Comments

About the Author:

Mollye has been in the HR Solutions industry for over 14 years. She joined PeopleScout in 2014, assisting with the operations of our Recruiter On-Demand™ accounts. Her experience has mostly been in Operations and Executive Administration, currently holding the role of Executive Assistant to PeopleScout's president, Taryn Owen. Mollye is a graduate of Western Washington University and resides in Arlington, Washington with her husband and four boys.


  1. […] Dress for success. You want to dress as professional as possible. This means power suits, jackets, ties – whatever you can find that emanates the utmost professionalism is what you should wear to your interviews. An interview is not the time to take fashion risks or try out a new trendy outfit. (For more advice on what to wear, and what not to wear, read my post Presentation is Everything – 8 Tips to Dress for Your Successful Job Interview.) […]

  2. […] Put out in the big game, you’re scrutinized with a magnifying glass! Besides your social media accounts, there are other details that will be observed during the process. At all costs, avoid familiar language and shortcuts or “slang” to express your ideas. A clear communication, with a rich vocabulary as well as the use of courtesies formulas is preferable. For the face-to-face interview, appropriate clothing is essential, even if it is not explicitly required. To help you make the right choices, the author Molly Taylor gives excellent tips in this article: presentation is everything- 8 tips to dress for your successful job interview. […]

  3. […] Sortez le grand jeu, vous êtes scruté à la loupe! Outre vos comptes sur les medias sociaux, il y a d’autres détails qui seront observés lors du processus. Évitez à tout prix  le langage familier et les raccourcis pour exprimer vos idées. Une communication claire, avec un vocabulaire riche ainsi que l’utilisation des formules de politesses est préférable. En ce qui concerne l’entrevue en personne, un habillement approprié est primordial et ce, même s’il n’est pas explicitement exigé. Pour vous aider à faire les bons choix vestimentaire,  l’auteur Molly Taylor donne d’excellents trucs dans cet article: presentation is everything- 8 tips to dress for your successful job interview […]

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