||A Woman's Guide to
Dressing for a Job Interview
- The choice of
dress for a woman is more complicated than it is for a man. A man
needs only to wear a suit, which covers him from top to bottom. A
woman needs to walk a finer line between looking borderline masculine
and looking like Cinderella attending a fairy tale gala.
- The general rule is to dress formally, conservatively, and to avoid looking flashy.
- Copy the TV newsreporters and anchors. Their look is simple and business-like, and at the same time feminine.
Focus attention on your face.
Your face is you, and that's where you want your interviewer to
concentrate. Avoid anything that takes your interviewer’s attention
away from it. In particular, don't wear anything low-cut on top.
Dress a notch better than your interviewer. Always, always err on the side of caution,
and dress well. Business casual can be dangerous in an interview setting.
No Mini Skirts!
An absolute rule is not to wear mini-skirts or short skirts, even if
you look good in them and they are wearing them in some of the upscale
metropolitan office settings (the young women may wear these there, but
you can bet the boss doesn't). You may see them in Manhattan ad
agencies, but don't wear one to an interview with one of them.
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Treat an interview with a recruiter the same as an interview with an employer.
Dress just as well for an interview with a recruiter as you would
with an employer. Don’t make the surprising mistake that many
candidates I’ve interviewed have made, and think that the recruiter is
going to act as a rep for you, so impressing the recruiter is
unimportant. If your interview is with a retained firm, the recruiter
is part of the client, and you need to get his or her approval before
you are presented to the client. If you are dealing with a
contingent firm (and why are you interviewing with a contingent firm if
you are earning six figures?), remember that the client is paying the
contingent firm, and if the firm is in any way decent, they will
present only good candidates to their clients.
Go for formal – a skirt suit is your best bet. Skirts need to be knee length or below. If you think you are drastically overdressed,
you can deftly remove your jacket at some point during the interview. You can go with a pants suit in some cases if
someone has tipped you off ahead of time that those are common at the company,
or that they dress business casual.
Conservative is best.
Conservative colors are best, which means grey, black or blue for the
Avoid evening dress. A black evening gown may look smashing, but not in a job interview setting.
Know your target. You can go for a somewhat more jazzed up
look if you are interviewing in a fashionable company (you don’t want to look
like a banker at an ad agency), but don’t go overboard.
Blouse. Your blouse
should be cotton or silk. Once again,
simple conservative colors like white, ivory or light blue are best. Stick to solid colors or subtle
Shoes. Choose basic,
conservative pumps that match the same tone as your suit. The best colors are black, blue, brown, or maroon. No toes sticking out – formal
shoes should have a closed shoe and heel.
Skip the high heels (perhaps you can go as high as 2 ½”).
Briefcase. Bring a
sleek leather briefcase and leave your purse in the car. A sleek one will look more feminine.
Keep the smells down. Perfume is personal - it attracts some
and repels (far more) others. Some people are allergic to it. Don't wear it.
Keep jewelry elegant and simple.
Do you like being around a woman whose jewelry makes her look like an
heiress? Keep it simple and not ostentatious (at the same time, keep
anything cheap at home - avoid costume jewelry - you're an executive,
not a secretary).
Makeup. Makeup should
be simple if worn at all, and not noticeable.
Once again, your hairstyle should not be memorable. If you have
beautiful blond or red hair, they’ll remember that, regardless of how
it is styled. Stick to a basic hairstyle, and one that doesn’t cover
your face. That means that bangs don’t cover your eyebrows, and
you don’t have to constantly do a Marsha Brady, pulling your hair back into
place as it slides over your eyes.