What to Wear to Your Job Interview to Look Professional While Staying Comfortable

What to Wear to Your Job Interview to Look Professional While Staying Comfortable

Let’s face it, the coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives in many ways, and unfortunately millions of Americans have found themselves unemployed or in fear of being let go as a result of the impact it’s had on the economy. As with anything, though, what goes down must come back up at some point. When businesses begin to open their doors once again, presumably the job postings will start to grow in number, too.

Whether you’ve found yourself struggling with how to find a job following COVID-19, want to avoid being blindsided by an unexpected layoff in the future or simply feel you’re finally ready to take the next step in your career, now’s a good a time to prepare yourself to officially start your job search.

From breathable fabrics to patterned socks, here’s what to wear to your job interview to look professional while staying comfortable, along with some tips for putting your best foot forward throughout the process.

Planning Your Outfit

When you’re prepping your look for an upcoming job interview, start by doing your research on the company. While most places will let you know their dress code ahead of time, some may not. Take a look at the company website and read reviews online to see what the overall “vibe” of the office is like and then plan your outfit accordingly.

Generally, dress codes will fall into one of three categories: professional/business formal, business casual and casual.

  • Professional/Business Formal: This dress code is what you might imagine when you picture the finance and law industries. Men are likely expected to wear a suit jacket and pants, a button-down shirt, and a tie. For women, a shift dress or combination of slacks, a dress shirt, and a blazer fall under the business formal category.
  • Business Casual: Business casual attire is less dressy than its formal counterpart but still calls for polished outfits that feel put-together. You may appear out of place if you wear a full suit to this type of interview. Instead, dark slacks and a crisp button-down or flowy blouse are perfectly appropriate.
  • Casual: Casual business environments are becoming more and more common, but an interview at this type of company doesn’t necessarily call for athletic shorts and flip flops. Stick to fresh-looking staples like khakis and a polo or a modest sundress to avoid seeming sloppy when making your first impression.

A general rule of thumb is to dress a touch more formally for your interview than what you’d wear for a typical day on the job there. To keep yourself feeling comfortable, look for breathable fabrics that have a hint of stretch to them so you can sit down without sweating up a storm or having buttons dig into you.

Tying the Look Together

Once you’ve built the foundation for your outfit, your next step is to think about how to pull the look together with accessories, as well as with your hair and makeup choices. If you’re interviewing in a more formal environment, be mindful of the boldness of your choices. While you certainly don’t want to be bland, look in the mirror and double-check that none of the elements of your ensemble will distract the people interviewing you.

  • Accessories offer you the perfect opportunity to add personality to your look in unexpected ways. A pair of patterned socks or a sparkly brooch are both unique touches that your interviewer will remember.
  • Also, you might want to consider getting that COVID-cut before you head out for the interview. This way, you’ll show that you can be well-groomed, even after quarantine. Hairstyles don’t need to be super complicated, but it could be helpful to sweep some pieces back off your face so they don’t bother you during the interview.
  • While you certainly don’t need to go in for a full-on manicure, keep your hands and nails clean, and maybe put on a little goop of moisturizer before you go in to introduce yourself.

Above all else, make sure your outfit inspires confidence and reflects who you are as an employee and a person. Therefore, now might not be the best time to experiment with a new hair color or makeup routine. After all, it’ll be much harder to get through that interview if you feel like you’re playing a role rather than being yourself.

Acing the Interview

Now that you know how to look the part, it’s time to prove you deserve the position! Interviews can be really nerve-wracking, but a little bit of practice beforehand can make all the difference to help you feel prepared for whatever the hiring manager might throw at you.

  • Read up on the company and the job description for the role you’re interviewing for. While you might not know all the details, having a broad understanding of the company, its competitors and the industry will be helpful.
  • Review common interview questions and answers so you can have a solid bank of responses prepared. Create a list of questions for HR and the hiring manager so that you can get clarity on the information you’re still not sure of. You can call up a friend to practice answering potential interview questions and asking the questions from your list.
  • Print a few extra copies of your resume so that you have them on hand in case you end up meeting more people than you originally expected to.
  • Once you’re at the interview, sit comfortably, and be attentive throughout the conversations. Make eye contact so the interviewer knows just how interested you are in the opportunity.
  • Take some notes during the interview to show you’re paying attention and curious about learning the specifics of the role and the company. Cute journals can also make for conversation-starters, especially if you bring one with a memorable design or saying on it.

One tip to help you relax before and during an interview is to remember that you’re interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing you! It’s a conversation between yourself and a few other people to help them all understand whether you’d be the right fit for a role.

Dress for Success

Sometimes the outcome of a job interview isn’t what we expect it to be, and that shouldn’t be a reason to feel embarrassed or discouraged. It may be a tough market out there, but the right opportunity for you is just around the corner, especially now that you know how to dress for success!