woman carrying mobile phone

Dress for Success at Interview

woman carrying mobile phone

Applying for a job can be a daunting prospect, particularly if it’s been a while since you looked for new role.  Congratulations if your job application has resulted in an invitation to interview!

Once you have finished dancing round the room holding the confirmation wait for it! Along comes the self-doubt monkey who gleefully reasserts himself on your shoulder!

excited woman got an interview

Of course it is only natural that you are nervous. Any interview can be intimidating, especially if it has been some time since you

There are some great tips for dealing with this in Elizabeth Lowman’s article 5 Ways to Look Confident*.  I would recommend reading this and practicing her techniques in advance of your interview date.

If on top of this you are worried about your appearance, you are really adding to your anxiety levels.

Regardless of your skills and experience you are giving yourself a huge mountain to climb at interview.

Let me reassure you that with some preparation and planning you will look fantastic.  Your confidence will undergo a massive boost if you know that you look amazing.

I’d like to share my 5 top tips for being the best ever version of you at interview!

 

Preparation is Everything

By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin

Ever winged an important meeting or not really thought through how you would handle a certain situation?

You may get a feeling of relief afterwards if it comes off but why add to your existing anxieties.

Preparation has already started in the sense that you applied for a role with a particular organization.

Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Find out as much as possible about the company and the culture.   Research online is always good.   If you are using a recruitment agency then talk to the consultant about the company and their style.

Why is this important? It will help to give you some inspiration about the way you should dress for the interview. This probably sounds very obvious but:

  • For an interview at a City Bank you would lose credibility if you were not ‘suited and booted’ in a somber and professional style.
  • However, if you are applying for a job with a creative agency a smart suit may make you feel awkward.   You will stand out a mile for the wrong reasons!

The bottom line is that if you are not sure and cannot find anything out, common sense says you should err on the side of caution. It is better to look over-dressed, as anyone who is conducting the interview will respect the fact that you are formal for the occasion.

Know your Neutrals

If you read my blogs regularly you will know that I am very passionate about colour and the impact colour can have on our appearance.

For an interview it is best to play safe. In each seasonal colour palette there are neutrals that will work for you.

While black is a classic colour and many of us do feel ‘safe’ wearing black, it doesn’t look good on everyone. You need to have a winter colour palette to carry black off.

Therefore for anyone in doubt, stick to the other neutrals: Navy, Grey, Brown or Beige.

If you don’t know your colour palette then you can do the gold/silver test.  Hold something gold or silver up to your chin.  This needs to be quite a yellow gold and not a white or rose gold.

gold or silver test

Do this in daylight and without makeup as both artificial light and make up will give you an inaccurate result.

The right colour will

  • Make your eyes, skin and hair glow
  • Reduce any imperfections eg. dark eye circles,
  • Give you an extra zing! That sounds a bit fluffy but trust me when you see what I mean you will have an aha moment!

So how do gold and silver relate to neutrals?

Gold is a warm colour with a lot of yellow and so you will look best in warm neutrals, such as brown and beige.

Silver is a cool colour and means you are best with neutrals such as blue, grey and black which are all cool coloured neutrals.

Unless you are going for a quite creative or extrovert role then adding  ‘pops of colour’ to your outfit is the safe option.

Style is about Confidence – Diane von Furstenberg

Body Shape

Remember the key point in my blog Women Hate Clothes Shopping ? Dress for your shape and not your size.

You can find out more about body shapes using my how to find your body shape guide. Once you are comfortable about your shape there are hints and tips on my guide about dressing for your body shape.

By understanding your shape this will help you make choices about the styles of clothes to look for.

Scale is Key

I recommend you also look at my recent blog, Women Hate Clothes Shopping as one of my tips covered dressing for your scale.  The basic rule is that if you are a petite person you should choose smaller prints and pattens.   A larger person will look better with larger prints and patterns.  The diagram below illustrates that the circle in the middle either looks larger with the smaller circles surrounding it.  The inner circles are in fact the same colours.

illustration of scale

Optical Illusions

If you would like to make yourself look taller and let’s face it many of us do! Apply the column of colour.

At every colour change in our outfit we create an imaginary horizontal line across our body. This has the effect of reducing our height and making us look wider.

By wearing a more uniform colour or tone of colour we will automatically look taller and slimmer.

 

PicMonkey Collage

There is every possibility that you’ll be on display as soon as you arrive in the car park or outside the entrance.

A friend who is a recruitment consultant told me that one of her clients has his office at the front of the building.

When someone arrives for a meeting or interview he watches the way that they approach the building.

Therefore your coat or jacket is a key part of your interview outfit.

 

The bottom line

Shoes

Last week a friend asked me if she would need to buy a pair of navy shoes as she’d just bought a navy skirt.

The general rule of thumb is that that your shoes should not be lighter than your hemline.

This means that you would be able to wear black shoes with a navy skirt.

Equally a pair of burgundy shoes would look fabulous with navy depending on the other colours you’re wearing.

The style of the shoe and thickness of the heel should reflect and complement your scale. So what do I mean by this? If you are a petite person kitten heels will look great but if you are a larger person kitten heels will have the effect of making you look bigger and you would be better advised to look at a broader heel.

Equally a petite person wearing chunky platforms will look overwhelmed and would be better to wear slender heels.

Follow this principle too with bodyline – if you are a curvy person think about wearing round toe shoes.   An angular person will look fabulous in more pointy styles.

Hosiery

You should always wear tights or stockings if you are wearing a dress or skirt to an interview. This is regardless of the weather.

Select a denier that compliments your outfit. A thicker winter outfit will look better with a denser denier.

What about colour? Wear tights the same or a similar colour to your shoes.

Another tip is to wear nude coloured shoes and tights to create longer leaner legs.

Finally – don’t forget to put a spare pair of tights or stockings in your handbag. It’s the belt and braces approach just in case you snag the pair you’re wearing!

Accessories

A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories – Oscar de la Renta.

I’m sure most of you are nodding as you read this!

I am passionate about handbags that walk into the room before I have a chance to!      I’ll offer you my tips but openly admit to tearing up the manual when it comes to my own look!

Scale applies to handbags as much as clothing.

A petite woman with a very large handbag will be overwhelmed.   A larger scale woman carrying a tiny clutch bag will look larger.

A gorgeous curvy woman will look better with a rounded shaped bag than a style, which is quite angular or square.  Apply this principle to the details on the bag too, buckles and fastenings particularly if these are features.

scale and handbags

Choose the right sized handbag for your scale

Also think about the widest part of your body. Where is it?   Just be careful that any handbag you select does not hang from your shoulder and sit at the widest part of your body.

If you are a pear shape then a bag, which sits quite high when it’s over your shoulder and has a lot of detail, will give you the volume you’re looking to create on your top half.

With regard to colour, I would recommend simply ensuring that your bag goes with your outfit and shoes.

Stating the obvious if you have a larger bag, just ensure that you know where everything is that you might need at the actual interview.

It will do your confidence no favours if you’re scrabbling around in your handbag looking for a pen or because you’ve forgotten to put your mobile on silent.

 

Conclusion

The most important point of all is to prepare. Thorough preparation makes its own luck – Joe Poyer.

This applies both in terms of your outfit and preparing for the interview itself.

If you are prepared this will also help your self-confidence.

Remember at the end of the day, the interview is a two-way process.   When we’re looking for a job it’s all too easy to think that perhaps it’s about people making a judgment about you.

It should also be about you making a decision about the company, the people and the role. Is this going to give you what you are looking for?

If you are still not sure or would like some guidance about your choice of interview outfit, why not book a free 30-minute discovery call?   I’m more than happy to use our call to give you guidance about your style choice for an interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Elizabeth Lowman’s article 5 Ways to Look Confident

https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-ways-to-look-confident-in-an-interview-even-when-youre-freaking-out

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