From fine-tuning your résumé to researching the company, fully preparing for a job interview is crucial. Making a positive first impression is important, and showing up with an appropriate ensemble can and should reflect maturity and sophistication.
“The more polished and professional you are, the better first impression you’ll make,” Career Services program coordinator and career counselor Carole Moore said. “It also shows respect for the person (interviewing you).”
Appropriate interview attire can be classified into three categories: casual, business casual and professional.
Casual is anything from a simple dress and cardigan for women to a polo and pair of nice khakis for men. Business casual is just a step up from that. Pencil skirts are popular for women, while dress slacks make the cut for men. When it comes to dressing professionally, blazers and well-fitted suits are spot on for both men and women.
From what she has seen, Moore describes the style of Cal Poly students going into interviews as professionally contemporary.
They’re very polished and stylish, Moore said.
It’s important to show a future employer a level of dedication to their company by making an effort to dress the part. Take into consideration the environment of the company or business.
“I think about the job position and what their expectation would be if I were to work for their office or at the company, wherever it is, and I try and match that,” history senior Wyatt Oroke said.
While it’s important to dress the part, Oroke said it’s a good idea to add a little flair to an ensemble.
“I think your personal style needs to come across still,” Oroke said. “So I try and add one or two details that are a little more out there, a little more me.”
Adding a couple of special touches to an outfit is a great way to set yourself apart and showcase individuality. Keeping the sweatpants at home, wearing something in your element while still looking polished is ideal.
“(By adding a little flair), it partly showcases your personality and also just makes you more comfortable in the clothes you’re wearing,” recreation, parks and tourism administration junior Ashleigh Allard said.
While including personal touches to an outfit is a great way to showcase personality, it’s important not to go overboard. With the current state of the job market, a fashion blunder is simply not affordable.
Too much jewelry can be distracting and noisy for an interview. In regards to prints and hues, sticking to a neutral color palette and staying away from printed fabrics is best. Never mind a firm handshake, if an outfit is too busy, you might as well call it a day.
Several stores, including locations in San Luis Obispo, offer wide varieties of suitable clothing for all sorts of interviews. Allard recommends shopping at Gap, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and Nordstrom.
“They sell good quality clothing,” Allard said. “They sell a lot of good staple pieces.”
When shopping for an outfit, think modesty. Low-cut blouses and short skirts and dresses send the wrong message.
For men, Oroke said Gap and Banana Republic are dependable.
“They have solid clothing that’s good quality and they have a lot of different styles you can choose from so you can fit into your own personal niche,” Oroke said.
Both Oroke and Allard had their first interviews here at Cal Poly, Oroke to be a resident advisor, and Allard at University Advancement.
“Since it’s an office, I wore a pencil skirt and a nice top with flats and simple jewelry,” Allard said.
Aside from clothing, proper grooming is equally important. Simply put, make sure shoes are clean, hair is in place and nails are trimmed.
While choosing the right outfit is essential, there are more elements that factor into a persons overall presentation.
“You should always have confidence in yourself and in your abilities,” Oroke said.
Allard said besides dressing to the occasion, a smile is a great accessory.
“I know that sounds weird but I feel like people can get so nervous in interviews that they forget to enjoy the experience,” Allard said.
A person’s professional image deserves some added attention. The amount of detail put into an ensemble reflects to employers how you will represent their company. Personal presentation has a lot to do with perception, and often your chances of landing a job.
“You dress appropriately for the event no matter what the position is,” Moore said. “You don’t dress for the position, you dress for the interview.”