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Adulting 101: Dressing the part (for women)

So, get this. I’m scrolling through Facebook the other day, and one of my friends posted about an interview she attended. It talked about how she showed up for the interview (in completely professional attire) but one of the other applicants did not. Now, it wasn’t for a super high-powered job or anything, but still, the interviewer refused to see the girl who showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. Now this story has a bit of a happy ending, because my friend had an extra professional-looking outfit in her car that she was able to lend the girl for the interview, but the whole situation could have been avoided if this applicant had thought to dress the part before she left her home in the morning.

So, this week, I’m going to spend a little time going over tips for dressing for an interview (for ladies).

First things first, just to stress how important your first impression on a hiring manager can be, I’d like to share some statistics.

An infographic from collegeatlas.org states the following:

  • 33% of hiring managers know if they will hire a candidate within 90 seconds of meeting
  • 55% of a first impression comes from the way a person dresses, acts and walks
  • 38% of a first impression comes from the quality of a person’s voice and their confidence
  • 7% of a first impression comes from what a person says

So, if you only have 90 seconds to actually impress a hiring manager, and over half of that impression will depend on how you dress, it might be time to put a little more thought into what you wear to that big interview.

A few do’s and don’ts for women in the professional world.

DO take the time and effort to dress up. I know that if you have an early interview, the last thing you want to do is get up even earlier to do your hair or makeup, but it will all be worth it when you land the job.

DON’T wear that super cute dress with the spaghetti straps. I know, it’s adorable and it looks good on you, but just because it is a dress does not mean that it is business attire. If the style or pattern of what you wear does not look professional, chances are neither will you.

DO stick to dark or neutral colors. Specifically, black, navy and dark grey. These colors are associated with professionalism, and while they may look a little bland, they can help you get the job.

DON’T wear sandals, sneakers, converse or any shoes that look well-worn. Just don’t do it, okay?

DO reach out to the hiring manager if you really are not sure what to wear. If you know, for a fact, the company’s dress code is super casual (or super formal), it is okay to ask the hiring manager what the dress code for the interview will be.

DON’T wear skirts or dresses that are shorter than your knee. I know that mid-thigh is the standard they set in high school, and college doesn’t really have a dress code, but in the professional world, the knees are the cut off line.

DO wear a moderate amount of jewelry (if you want to). A nice, simple necklace could be a great way to bring some color into an outfit if you really feel it is just too bland.

DON’T wear clothes that don’t fit properly. Not only will you be uncomfortable if your clothes are a little too tight, but so will your hiring manager as they watch you squirm and adjust yourself every few minutes. If you can afford to have an outfit tailored, that would be an investment that might pay off. Otherwise, just make sure that everything you wear is sized properly.

DO bring a second outfit with you, just in case something happens. Maybe your interview is a bit of a drive and your outfit is all wrinkly by the time you get there, or maybe you spilled coffee on your blouse (we’ve all be there), or just maybe, someone else will need it. You never know, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

DON’T take a backpack with you. This also applies to funky purses, fanny packs, duffle bags and totes. If you need something to carry your wallet, keys, phone, etc. invest in a small, professional briefcase or purse instead.

Basically, before you leave for your job interview, give yourself a good once over and ask: “Will this make an impression? Is it professional? Would I hire me?”

If you can answer yes to all of the above, then it is time to go out there and get that job.

About LeAnn Endsley

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