What to Wear – Women

As challenging as I think it can be for a man to learn about the right clothes to wear in an interview and beyond, I believe it has to be considerably more difficult for a woman to get it right. Why? You might ask. The issue centers around the fact that women have many more choices when it comes to wardrobe combinations. The more things you have to consider, the more complex the job of getting dressed for an interview.
 
 


 
 

Suits

Job Interview Attire
 
For the purpose of interviewing, a few simple tips should be able to remove the worry about what to wear on the interview. It’s about keeping it simple, and the simpler you keep it, the easier it will be to look good and feel confident.
 

Like men, women are safest when using some dark fabrics for their business suits (i.e. navy blue and charcoal gray). Of course, there are vast possibilities in terms of fabric colors, but for the interviews, I still recommend staying conservative with the suits and blouses/shirts. It makes the outfit selection easier, and you avoid taking the risk of wearing an outfit that’s not entirely appropriate, or it just doesn’t make you look your sharpest.
 

Having said that, there are many other options in terms of fabric patterns and colors, and for women it is perfectly acceptable to wear different colors and styles. Over the years I have seen some very professional and sharply dressed women on interviews that are not necessarily wearing the darker business suits. The only caution I offer is that, unless you really know what you’re doing when it comes to women’s business fashion and what looks good on you, stick to solid colors. When in doubt, go with the navy blue or charcoal gray skirt suit or pant suit with the simple white shirt/blouse.
 

You can get a general idea with the photos below. It’s important to feel comfortable with the style and fit that works for you, and it’s especially important to feel good about what you’re wearing on the interview day, so that you don’t have to be worried about your looks. Your time has to be laser-beam focused on having a good dialogue with the interviewer, and not being distracted or self-conscious about your outfit.

 

Job Interview Attire
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Shirts / Blouses

For interviews, remain, again, on the simple side in terms of design and colors. White is preferable, but a light blue is acceptable. Once you get hired and get a better sense for the dress code at the company, you can start to vary your choices a lot more. Of course, all this sounds repetitive (on purpose) – keep it simple and fairly conservative.

Job Interview Attire
 

Shoes

By now, if you read the sections above, I’m sure you know what I’m going to say regarding shoes for a job interview – keep it simple and conservative. This is all fairly obvious material, but given what I’ve observed in numerous interviews over the years, I’ll go ahead and say it, anyway. Please, no red, leopard, silver, gold, or any other assortment of colored shoes. Stay away from inappropriate high heels and any ornate designs. Once again, go with black, conservative shoes on all your job interviews.
 

You need to make a great impression during the interview by the way you perform, and by the way you look. So, drawing attention to yourself by wearing the wrong shoes or outfit, can distract the interviewer and might get you to be remembered, but for the wrong reasons.

College Interview Shoes
 

Accessories

Jewelry should be kept to a minimum, if any is worn. Small singular earrings are acceptable. If you have multiple piercings, for the interview don’t wear any earrings or wear just a simple, conservative stud (e.g. diamond or look alike stone, or pearl – stay away from colors). Avoid big, dangling earrings, they are not always very appropriate for business, and can be a distraction for the interviewer.

College Interview Earrings
 

Leave your bracelets and rings at home. A simple ring is fine, but avoid going to an interview with rings on every finger, and lots of bracelets. Once again, nothing wrong with stylish simplicity, but if you have any doubts whether your jewelry will be OK for the interviews, don’t wear it, Why take the risk?
 

Bags and purses are ok, but make sure they go with your business outfit. Leave your designer bags at home, they’re not business attire, unless they are a dark solid color that matches your business suit. A black leather purse, briefcase, or a simple leather portfolio to carry extra resumes and a note pad and pen should do the trick.

College Interview Earrings
 

Some of you may wondering about the question on perfume – Should you wear it or not? The answer is no. What you or I may find pleasant in a fragrance, could be totally offensive or even disturbing to another person, and that person could be your interviewer. So, again, to play it safe, go to the interviews without perfume.
 

Last, but certainly not least, make-up. This is a subject that has received a lot of questions, so I will offer some brief suggestions to help clear up any confusion on the subject. As you probably can tell from all the recommendations I’ve presented so far, make-up should be no exception when it comes to simplicity – in an interview, you want to look your very best, but not get the wrong kind of attention. Wearing too much make up might get you noticed, no doubt, but you run a very high risk of not getting a second interview. Each interviewer will be mentally gauging how well you may fit into the job and the company’s culture – Appearance, while it is usually not explicitly spelled out in terms of acceptable parameters, it is an important element when it comes to fitting in, nonetheless. Keep the make-up subtle and neat, and you’ll be just fine.
 

Bottom line – with make-up, you want to emphasize your natural beauty and possibly “warm up” you skin color, if needed, with subtle tones, be it around your eyes, face, or lips. Well applied make-up gets you noticed, not the make-up itself.
 

You want the interviewer to remember you, your energy and pleasant personality, not some “loud” element about what you’re wearing. I once interviewed a college graduate that was wearing so much make-up layered on her face that it became very difficult for me or my colleagues, who also interviewed her, to get beyond the distraction of her appearance. Needless to say, she did not get a call back.

College Interview Make Up
 

One last piece of advice – turn your cell phone off. Don’t even put it on vibrate, just turn it off. You want to show the interviewer that you are very serious about the interviewing process, and at that moment, nothing is more important than your dialogue with that interviewer. If your phone rings in the middle of the interview, it could signal to the interviewer that you don’t take your job search seriously, so, Why should the interviewer believe that you would take the job seriously, if you got an offer? You see, every little detail matters, and you are being observed on every little nuance.
 

So, What should you do if the cell phone does go off? I’m sure you’re curious to know. There’s only one way to handle it – offer a very strong and convincing apology, and turn the phone off immediately, without looking at the phone to see who’s calling. Just turn it off fast, and you might have a chance of salvaging your interview.

No Cell Phone During Job Interview
 

In this highly competitive job market, corporate recruiters are looking for candidates that come across responsibly and very focused on the interviewing process. It’s the little things that can knock you out of the game.
 
 
 
 
 
“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
Coco Chanel
 

 
 
 


 
 
Interview questionnaire

Interview questionnaire
New!
Job Interview Training Course
Videos – Interview Tips
Job Interview Training Videos
Where Do I Start?
Interview questionnaire
Inspirational Quote
Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true.
Napoleon Hill
Parents – Next Steps
Job Interview Parents
What to Wear…