Dress to Impress

It's important to dress up for a job interview.


Got a job interview? Here’s how to prepare for it.

When it comes to job interviews, image isn’t everything—but it is important. Your appearance sends a message to the manager/supervisor/owner interviewing you. And that message can either be “I want to present a positive image of your company” or “I don’t care what people think, I’ll look the way I want.” If you want the job, you’d be wise to go with the first option and try to fit into the business you wish to work for.

“Dress in a way that shows respect for the person interviewing you, the workplace, the business customers, and yourself,” says Deborah Halliday, assistant director of the Office of Career Services at Boston University.

Dressing the Part

Halliday’s advice applies to your personal grooming too. Here are four grooming steps to take before entering a job interview:

  • Look alert. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating a meal or a snack beforehand will help you focus during the interview.

  • Say hi to hygiene. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and smell good. Better yet, don’t smell at all. Shower before the interview and lay off the heavy perfume or cologne—it can offend sensitive noses. Guys should shave. Girls shouldn’t overdo their makeup.

  • Cover up tattoos and remove all body piercings. Even if the interviewer is OK with body art, tattoos and piercings can be distracting in an interview. You can easily cover up an arm tattoo with a long-sleeved shirt.

  • Wear proper clothes. Wrinkled clothes are a major no-no. Your clothes should be neat and clean. Girls can wear dresses or skirts, as long as they are not too short. Guys should wear slacks and a dress shirt, or at least a shirt with a collar. You may not have to dress formally, but it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Wear shoes, not sneakers.

Project Prepare

Here are four additional steps to take before a job interview:

  • Research the company. You don’t have to know everything about the business, but it helps to know the basics, such as the products the company sells and who its customers are. A quick visit to the company’s website or just going into a store and getting a feel for what goes on should do the trick.

  • Update your résumé. Think of your résumé as an advertisement for an amazing product—you. Make sure the information is up to date and accurate. Bring a copy of your résumé to the interview in a folder or an envelope so that it stays clean and neat.

  • Practice. Have someone you trust (a parent or friend) pretend to interview you. Think of different questions this person can ask you and practice your answers. Practice asking questions too.

  • Don’t be late. On second thought, be early. The day of the interview, leave your home early to make sure you arrive in plenty of time. A sure way to turn off a potential employer is to arrive late the first time you’re meeting him or her.

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