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How to Dress and Conduct Yourself Professionally on a Job Interview For Women

Updated on June 26, 2020
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As an MBA professional, I would like to share my knowlege of clothing emergency tips with you. Check out my recomendations to help you here.

Job Interview Dress Jitters

Imagine the bad taste in your mouth as you anxiously arrive for your job interview. You experience a sinking feeling of dread and doom as you get closer to your interview location. Unfortunately, previous negative events caused these unwelcome feelings.

Just a few minutes ago, you walked passed impeccably, professionally dressed men and women in the hallway of your potential dream job location. You are thinking if only I had taken my time because in your rush in preparing your job interview, you did not follow your plans to wear the dark blue suit that is still hanging in your closet. Instead you tried to calm down your nerves by wearing your comfortable black leggings, complete with your faded black tee shirt that screams the message to the world, "AC DC Rocks!"

Once at your job interview, you are greeted by a distinguished-looking gentleman wearing a dark gray tailored suit, white shirt with a striped tie that complements his shiny black alligator shoes. At the moment, you want to somehow disappear in the woodwork. You had mistakenly envisioned the vacant job was located at a young creative start-up firm. By dressing casually, you were simply showing how laid back and relaxed you were.

To make matters worse, the CEO of the company was the interviewer instead of the happy-go-lucky sounding gentleman you spoke to earlier on the phone. Of course, you are already at the interview, so it is not possible to run home, change and return in a more appropriate outfit without appearing completely disorganized.

What should you do in this situation? Unfortunately you will have to move forward with the interview, and hope the CEO somehow realizes that you know proper dress etiquette and will demonstrate this in the days to come -- that is, if you get the job.

Women dressed appropriately for a job interview.
Women dressed appropriately for a job interview.

Dress Professionally for Your Job Interview

Would you like to avoid the possibility of the above unfortunate events happening to you? Then dress appropriately for the job you are interviewing for by wearing an appropriate fitting dark suit, nude hosiery and plain pumps.

Even if you are interviewing for one of those laid-back, tech jobs, dress professionally. If you are unsure of the dress protocol, check out the company's website to see what people tend to wear at the company. For tech positions, I recommend weaeing a business-like conservative outfit because the person who is interviewing you is still judging you on how you professionally present yourself.

Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to be perceived as the right person for the job, instead of giving the interviewer a myriad of reasons not to hire you.

First Impressions at Your Job Interview

Your first impression starts from the time you walk into the building, meet the receptionist and finally sit down in front of the interviewer(s). Do not discredit the opinions of other people you talk to or see before you are actually interviewed. Their opinions could be even more important than those of the interviewer(s). Unfortunately, first impressions do count, and I'm afraid in the particular instance described above, you have made the wrong one. To avoid this happening to you again, heed my advice on how to dress for a job interview.

However, there is such a thing as second chances when it comes to making a good impression during job interviews. For instance, if you by chane did not dress appropriately for your interview the first time, the good news is all may not be lost. Many times, depending on the type of job and the level, i.e., trainee, journeyman etc., there may be more interviews, in addition to the one you just had. The additional interviews wil give you another chance to prove that you are the right person for the job. In other words, and alluding to my example above, you may get to wear that dark professional-looking suit after all.

Do you dress for an interview based on the job you are being interviewed for?

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Job Interview Hiring Decisions

It is no secret that many managers make the decision on whether to hire you, sometimes in the first few minutes of seeing you. Specifically, some make hiring decisions based on a simple handshake. Some job interviewees greet the hiring official with a dead fish handshake that exudes a weak character and low confidence. A nice firm handshake with eye contact without starring is how you should greet the interviewer. In the current days of the CODVID-19 virus, I recommend you forgo the handshake completely. You may simply nod and smile to acknowledge the presence of the interviewer(s) prior to taking your seat.

Speaking of the COVID-19 virus, many companies are opting to initially have a phone interview instead of an in-person interview. Other non-inperson interview methods include Zoom, Skype, etc. If these are used, I recommend you dress appropriately for the job interview as if you are actually at the job site in person since the interviewer(s) will be able to see you.

As you probably know, managers tend to hire those who resemble, or who may look and act most like themselves. They are looking for someone to do a competent job and contribute to the company's success. Many can size you up from the first time they meet you. They are looking at your demeanor, your actions, how you respond to interview questions, and yes -- how you dress.

Remember, even if the company has a lax work atmosphere, it is still a business, with management looking for people to move the company forward. During your in-person job interview, in addition to your resume, the interviewer has probably already reviewed your credentials. Now it's your in-person appearance and mannerisms that will determine if you are a good fit for the company.

Show Your Likeability at Your Job Interview

Even though dressing properly for your job interview is important, an engaging personal demeanor and personality are essential as well. Show a friendly smile with clean teeth when you meet the interviewer. Be sure to check your face in a mirror before the interview to make sure lipstick is not smeared on your teeth or that your make-up has not smeared. When the interviewer is talking, be attentive to what he or she is saying. Listen with the goal to understand. If during the interview, you are asked a question, you want to be able to answer it, rather than asking the interviewer to repeat the question in order to abide for more time to answer.

Some companies are not as concerned so much about your technical knowledge as your likeability. The reason is they can easily train someone on the technicalities of the job, but it is difficult and almost impossible to train someone to be liked. Try to keep a happy medium with your technical knowledge as well as your likeability.

Do not forget that you are being interviewed for your job skills and company-fit. If you give the impression you are more interested in and focused on the social aspect of your job instead of getting your job done, you might get hired, but remember -- you can just as easily and quickly be fired.

Telephone Job Interviews

Regarding phone interviews -- since you are at home and noone from the company will see you slouching around in your sleeping clothes, (unless you use Skype, face-time, Zoom, etc.), you may think you can eliminate "dressing up" for your job interview. This is possible; however, personally -- to get myself in a job interview mode, I put on my professional work outfit which helps me to feel like I already have the job, even if I am at home.

Now, this is totally up to you. Maybe you are one of those people who do well on telephone interviews, regardless of how you are dressed. If you are, then stay in your comfortable clothing; however, if you are not, it does not hurt to take the effort to put on a professional suit and groom yourself as if you are being interviewed in person.

Do you dress up for a telephone interview?

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Be Confident at Your Job Interview

Show a confident demeanor during your job interview, by standing tall with your shoulders back and head held high. Try not to show your nervousness by avoiding eye contact, looking down, etc. Present yourself professionally as well as make a good first impression.

Remember, sometimes the interviewer may think there is someone who is more suited for the job than you. Your job is to make sure the interviewer forget all of the interviewees before or after you and select you for the position. Follow my advice on how to dress and conduct yourself during your job interview and you may find yourself getting so many job offers, you may end up turning some down. Good luck!

Job Interview Dress Dos and Don'ts for Women


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