What to Wear to Your Dream Job Interview–and Nail It!

So you’ve finally locked down a big interview that you’ve been going after the last few months. Your resume is updated, elevator speech on point, and you’ve memorized every detail of your professional experience for the past five years. You’re feeling really good leading into the big day until you start to consider what you’re going to wear!

Dressing for an interview can be tricky in this day and age. Years ago, we used to be throw on a suit no matter what the job was and that was that. But today, many companies have more relaxed dress codes—and walking in with a suit on may set you apart in the wrong way.

So we sat down with Lisa Frank of LBF Recruitment Strategies, an executive recruitment and career-coaching firm based in Chicago, to get her thoughts on how to dress for the job you want.

Ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager or recruiter what’s appropriate. It’s a valid question that too often people are afraid to ask. When in doubt, confirm with someone on the inside.

Test drive your outfit.
Try it all on. (Seriously!) The last thing you need is to pull on that new dress, only to find it fits all wrong—too short, too tight, whatever the case. Take the time to try on the full outfit head-to-toe early enough so you can make any necessary adjustments—and with time to spare.

Pro tip: Make sure you are comfortable sitting and walking in your final look.

For the creative job: 

Source: Allergic to Vanilla 

  • Show your personality in fun ways, but be sure to keep it polished and pulled together.
  • Skip the pantsuit and opt for something that underscores the role and the responsibility the job requires.
  • Add visual interest through prints, a fun shoe, jewelry, or glasses.

For the corporate job:

Source: Memorandum

  • Invest in a well-made, neutral suit and play with different color blouses to pair underneath—here is where you can inject a bit of color (if appropriate) for the office setting.
  • Not into a suit? Just be sure to add some structure to your outfit, whether it’s a dress or blazer. You want to look crisp, fresh, and professional.
  • Keep colors conservative. I love the idea of deep navy and fresh camel paired together.
  • Be sure your shoes are closed over your toes.

For the tech/startup job:

Source: Corporate Catwalk

  • Startups typically have a younger, more casual vibe within their four walls, so don’t miss the mark by coming in way too corporate.
  • Dress a half step up from everyone else. The key here is pulled together casual.
  • Play with silhouettes—a cropped pant, textured leather jacket, or bold accessory are things you can totally get away with in this environment.

Frank adds, “When you look your best, your confidence soars. And confidence is key in any interview. Select an outfit that you feel comfortable in and that reflects your style, but doesn’t distract from the actual interview. You want the interviewer to walk away and remember all the great stuff you had to say—not necessarily the outfit you showed up in.”

Now go and dress for the job you want—good luck!

Do you have a go-to interview outfit? Tell us in the comments!