There are certain things that, regardless of age and experience, still represent a challenge and cause a significant amount of stress doing them. For many people that could be getting ready to deliver a speech. Others are terrified of delivering bad news to a significant other, and for many others, this frightening thing can be a job interview. Those conversations happen either in person or by video call to get to know more about a company and a job position. Still, most importantly, it is your chance to shine as a viable candidate for the position you are applying to.

As a working person looking for a job opportunity, it might take some effort and time to get a resume and cover letter ready and submit a job application with the hope of getting a response from the employer. Sometimes this process is repeated several times, tailoring resumes and sending applications to different companies and job positions until an employer decides to reach out to schedule an interview with you.

So a job interview is truly an accomplishment. It means that you stand out from a group of applicants who sent that application too. A job interview is an opportunity to talk about who you are outside of your resume and professional experience and show your authentic self during that conversation.

Job interviews are definitely a pivotal moment during the hiring process, and you must take them seriously if you want to be considered for the job. Every detail of the interview matters, including the way you present yourself visually. It’s very common to underestimate our clothing choices and not give enough thought to this process. This is why Political Fashion brings you the key things to consider when you are getting ready for your job interview to determine how you’ll decide to present yourself.

Research the Company

Do your research using the materials and methods that work best for you. Image Courtesy of UX Indonesia.

During the job-hunting process, frustration, anger, and anxiety might conquer our mood with the uncertainty that unemployment brings to life. And when we let irrationality lead our job search, we may start sending job applications just because they are posted, and not necessarily because we know the company or fully understand the qualifications of the job. 

This is a huge mistake because this lack of information will show up if the recruiters decide to move forward with your application. So when you are scheduled for your job interview, you must have a solid understanding of the company or organization that you will talk to.

Some key points to find out in that initial research are: “What does this company do?” “How do they do it?” “Who are the customers?” “What are their values and their work culture like?” Most companies have these answers on their website as they want to be known and recognized by potential clients. This initial research will give you the confidence to speak in the interview when the recruiter asks the overused and almost cliche job interview question: “So why do you want to work in this company?”

The Clothes

But how does this initial research guide me through planning my outfit for the job interview? Some ideas will immediately come to your mind as you scroll through the company’s website that will interview you. A first general insight to be aware of is the kind of industry you plan to work for and what role you will be performing. For streamlined purposes, we’ll talk about two main categories: Creative and Non-Creative roles.

Creative Roles

You must present yourself professionally even during interviews for creative roles. Image Courtesy of Cottonbro.

A creative job might be in the form of a designer, animator, writer, actor, producer, artist, merchandiser, or any variation of these roles. Creative industries tend to be more liberal in their clothing selection, which means that there is some room to play with bold colors and prints that will help you stand out during the interview process.

A creative industry role is a very general category where thousands of job titles fit in, so don’t assume that you may follow the same dress code for different job interviews in various companies for creative jobs. Take the time to dig deeper to understand how much you may push the styling boundaries for this professional mission. Is it an animation studio where creatives work with casual clothing on a regular basis? Or is it a high-end marketing agency where employees wear formal attire every day? 

Also, consider what kind of role you would be performing in that company. Will you be a graphic designer creating social media content for a financial institution or for a pop star? All of these facts matter and are worth acknowledging during the planning process. 

Look for pictures of employees who are part of this company and focus on their clothing choices. If you have a connection with that company, take a look at their Linkedin profile and see how they introduce themselves. Look at the colors, the prints, the styling, the makeup, and the accessories. These images will be a great source of inspiration to choose every aspect of your interview look.

Without going to the extreme of plagiarizing an outfit you saw on the company’s website, identify some key elements from the pictures you see and that you have may use for the interview. If you are already dressing like a member of that team, there will be a non-verbal connection between you and the recruiter that will be hard to forget!

Non-Creative Roles

Public service roles require a professional attire that communicates experience, and professionalism. Image Courtesy of Vanity Fair. 

Non-creative jobs don’t mean they are boring or irrelevant. In fact, they are as relevant as creative jobs, and so much fun and action happen in these kinds of jobs. Non-creative fields include science, economics, engineering, politics, or academic practices like researchers, educators, or administrative. These roles are focused on accuracy, logic, statistics, and facts. More of a visual component, they are looking for a reliable person that can execute the job flawlessly through rationality and professionalism, and your clothing must communicate that.

If you are applying for a job in these industries, it is better to stay on the more traditional side of fashion without trying too hard to push the boundaries. For suits, navy and dark grey are the safest choices, communicating professionalism and a certain sense of authority if the job requires it. The colors to avoid in suits are white and brown. White suits are specifically meant to work in events with sunlight, and brown suits are often associated with mediocrity or lack of qualifications. You’ll hardly find a picture of a CEO, political candidate, or authority figure with a brown suit. That’s how accurate this perception is!

A full black suit tends to be a common choice for many interviewees, which is exactly why you should avoid it if you have another alternative waiting for you in the wardrobe and you want to stand out. 

Black can be incorporated in a blazer, shoes, pants, or accessories as it adds elegance and sophistication to the look. Styling black with other neutrals like white or navy is a good idea. 

 For dresses and skirts, neutrals are a safe choice. You may use one pop of color like red, green, yellow, or blue to add an authentic factor to your look. However, be aware of what color is predominant in your look, and don’t let more than two bold colors get into your professional look. It will start looking more like a party outfit instead of a professional interview outfit. 

Color Selection

Different colors of shirts and suits communicate different messages. Image Courtesy of Jozsef Hocza.

It’s important to consider every aspect of the job you are applying for and dress to communicate your qualifications for that role.

If the job requires an authority figure, like a manager, supervisor, or director, you may wear red as it communicates power, and it will help you stand out. In menswear, you can incorporate red in your tie, handkerchief, or leather phone case to communicate that message and show that potential.

If the job requires charisma and a sense of empathy to achieve communication with clients and other team members, such as sales representatives, secretaries, or therapists, green and blue are great options. These colors have a nice blend of professionalism and a humanitarian sense that is not necessarily related to authority. Think of those logos from global companies in the dental hygiene industry, technology, or finances. All these companies want to communicate reliability more than creativity in their logos. You must communicate that with your clothes as well.

Pink and purple are risky choices to have as predominant colors during the recruitment process, as they can be related to childish matters. Use these colors very subtly or avoid them completely for the interview, unless you are applying for a job related to kid matters like an educator or pediatrist. Small pops of pink or purple in a printed tie or scarf won’t destroy your professional career, but if you have another tie or scarf without those colors, that will be your safest choice. You may bring pink and purple back into your clothes once you get the job and your team members know the person behind their clothes! These specific decisions are particularly important to create a great first impression.

The Accessories

Every element that you show during the interview communicates something about you: the tie, the shoes, the wallet, and even the pen! What do you want to communicate with these objects? Image Courtesy of Cytton Photography.

The level of comfort that you have or don’t have will show during the interview, so it’s really important that you know your clothes and understand how they feel before heading out to the interview. You may have a pair of spectacular pumps with a 6-inch tall heel that makes you look stunning, but if you can’t walk on them and your legs are shaking like jelly getting hit by a spoon, you’ll give a very bad perception to the recruiters and your potential teammates. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pair of clean and formal flat shoes if you’re not comfortable in heels. The goal here is to find a fair balance between comfort and fashion. 

The Bag 

A black leather bag is a safe choice for a job interview. It is neutral, clean, and professional. Image Courtesy of Fashion Week Online.

Briefcase, Tote, or Handbag?

Whatever accessory you’re taking to carry your resume, portfolio, or professional materials must align with the overall aesthetic of the look. A bag communicates how organized or messy a person is, so be ready to quickly find any item that you’re carrying in case the interviewer asks you for this item. There are fewer things more embarrassing than going through the vast amount of makeup containers, pills, coins, cards, napkins, and the lunch’s leftovers in your bag before finding your business card. Take only the stuff you need for your interview with you and leave all the other stuff at home! 

Soft suit in virgil wool by Giorgio Armani.

General Advice

Regardless of the job you are applying to, the size of the company, or the level of the job applied to, here is some general advice for interviews that you should always consider:

  • Avoid prints that are oversized, tacky, or flamboyant. These prints may distract the interviewer during your conversation, and you want to be remembered by your great professional background and qualifications, not by your clothing selection. Even if you’re applying to be a celebrity stylist who needs to be visually creative, let your portfolio and your resume speak by themselves, and don’t try to make a fashion statement during the recruitment process.
  • Interviewees who wear menswear should avoid bright colors in suits and silly prints in their ties or handkerchiefs. Polka dots, stripes, or subtle geometric prints are good ideas to keep it visually interesting.
  • Avoid showy logos in clothing and accessories that may be perceived as pretentious or poor taste. A discreet bag with a moderate monogram is acceptable, but a huge printed logo in any part of your look will be a little too much.
  • Makeup should be moderate and avoid flamboyant colors. Avoid eyeshadow with glitter or with many colors. Red lips are acceptable and very common.
  • Take every aspect of your visual presentation seriously including hair, make-up, teeth, hands, nails, footwear, and accessories.
  • Use lotion or fragrance in a very subtle and moderate way as you want to avoid irritating the people around you with a heavy smell.
  • If you know that you tend to sweat when you are nervous, be prepared to dry yourself in the restroom before going into your interview. Sweaty handshakes are not a good first impression! 
  • If your interview is through a video call, every aspect mentioned should still be considered as your formal presentation will boost your confidence and influence your posture and the way you speak and present yourself. Dress from head to toe as if you were in person and show what you’ve got!