When it comes to job interviews, choosing an outfit can be tricky. It’s hard to know just how dressed up, or dressed down, to get. With this outfit, I tried to straddle the fence. I know the old saying goes, “You can never be overdressed or over-educated,” but I’ve shown up to many a casual interview in business professional attire and felt like a clown. So I tried to plan ahead by pairing some dark jeans with a black button-up. Deep, indigo-hued denim tends to appear more gussied up than light washes. And buttoned blouses transition perfectly from office to everyday wear. To add another touch of professionalism to my look, I added this tangerine-colored blazer. It’s one of my favorite pieces, because of its soft texture, cozy fit and vibrant color. I’m not usually an orange fan, but I went through a phase where I loved it and I still don’t regret this buy.
I finished the look off with a black and silver belt (because saggy pants are never work-friendly), an antique-looking silver collar necklace and my go-to flat slippers. In my opinion, this look says, “I know how to dress for work, but I’m not too uptight either. And I have style of course.” Apparently, the hiring manager agreed, because I got the job!
Here are some of my other tried-and-true interviewing tips:
- In your purse or bag, make sure you have lip balm (for chapped lips and spot-treating other dry skin areas), cool mints or gum (for fresh interview breath), a couple of bobby pins (in case your hair rebels), a few napkins (to dab off makeup, deodorant or Cheetoh dust), a pen (for filling out paperwork) and a pair of flats (to change into around the corner if you wore heels to the meeting).
- Check your phone before the interview to look up phone numbers of past employers, check your schedule and collect well wishes pre-interview. But try to turn it off once you enter the office/building/workplace. If you’re on your phone the whole time you’re in the waiting room, you might come across as the typical, texting-obsessed teenager/young adult.
- Try and keep your makeup as natural and glowy as possible (unless you’re interviewing at a makeup counter). Restrict your look to foundation, concealer, eyeliner, mascara and a muted lip color. You want to look polished, not plastic.
- During a group interview, if the hiring manager asks the group a question to take turns answering, never say, “I was going to say what he/she said,” or, “Yeah, I was going to say the same thing.” Come up with an original answer that will make you stand out for the right reasons.
- When they ask you to tell them about yourself, try to include good things you’re doing, as well as facts about you that make you human and relatable. (For example, “I am an early childhood education major. I volunteer weekly with the Boys & Girls Club. I have a teacup Yorkie named Chip. And I’m a die-hard Cubs fan.”)
- Think before you answer a question. Even the silly, “If you were a flavor of Ramen, which would you be?” ones. Take a beat, then answer, to keep from rambling without ever making a good point. (Sometimes, if I’m a bit nervous about an interview, I’ll write down a few questions I know they will ask, and lightly memorize my answers.)
- Process the interview as a simple conversation, rather than a stuffy interrogation. That always keeps me from getting too nervous.
Good luck in all of your job-seeking endeavors!