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How to dress for an interview

As if figuring out what to wear in the morning isn’t stressful enough, deciding what to wear to an interview can be seen as added pressure. As soon as you walk into the interview room, before you even get a chance to speak, your outfit contributes to the first impression you leave on the interviewer. That being said, you want to dress to impress! To prevent any last-minute panicking, here are some interview outfit ideas:

Option 1 –  The classic blazer

When I think of interviews, the first thing that comes to my mind is a blazer. Not only can you wear a blazer for numerous occasions, but you can pair it with many different outfits –  with a button down, a blouse, and even a dress. Of course, you don’t need to stick with the traditional black coloured blazer, adding a pop of colour makes things fun and can add a bit to your personality.

Option 2 –  The blouse and dress pants/pencil skirt

Blouses in general, are a very elegant and professional spin to just a normal shirt because they act as the foundation for a stylish, layered look. As they come in different cuts and styles, you don’t have to worry about not finding one that suits you. This versatile top can be paired with either dress pants or some skirt (pencil skirts would be the most professional).

Option 3 –The statement dress

Although you want your interview look to be professional, there is nothing wrong with wearing a dress, especially if it makes you feel confident. With a statement dress, you don’t necessary need to add a jewelry or other accessories because the dress speaks for itself. Make sure, however, that both the neckline and hemline are appropriate because you’re there for an interview with a potential employer, not a night out with your friends.

At GEMinar Three: Getting Your Goals, the panelist Natasha Zdravkovic, Recruitment Consultant at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), said that an important tip is to make sure what you’re wearing is clean: “You want to look like you put effort and care into your outfit because it will project how you feel about the job.”

A little word of advice from Susan Baxter, Vice Chairman for RBC Wealth Management, is that when dressing for an interview, “you should wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.” At the end of the day, if you put too much stress on what you’re going to wear you’ll miss out on the real importance: the actual interview.

Remember: the best thing you can wear is your confidence. So, make sure to smile and let your personality shine through, no matter what you wear.

Career Skills Workshop: Dress to Impress

GEMgirls attended a career skills workshop on Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at the Aga Khan Museum to learn how to dress your best for interviews. Marlo Sutton and Caroline Young, who are experts in the fashion industry, were our presenters. Sutton is a personal stylist who worked in the fashion industry in Paris for 13 years and Young owns OIZO Fashion and Wardrobe consulting. GEMgirls participated and had fun, discussing tips on “what to wear” and “what not to wear” to interviews.

Clothes – “Start with the basics.” No interviewee can ever go wrong with the simple black dress pants, white buttoned up shirt and a blazer. This outfit will make you look professional. However, do not be afraid to try something new too! Instead of wearing the wide dress pants, wearing the slim dress pants is always an option too. Moreover, pencil skirts are also cute and professional! Just make sure the skirt isn’t too short. Lastly, make sure everything fits well. “Comfort, portion and simplicity” are key when deciding on an outfit to wear for an interview.

Shoes – Black shoes are best. Black patent shoes are even better. You can easily wipe them off and go! If you’re going to wear heels, make sure they are comfortable and easy to walk in. If it is raining or snowing, it is best to bring your shoes with you so that you can change into them for the interview.

Hair – If you’re someone that plays with your hair, it can distract the interviewer. In this case, the best hairstyles would be a neat bun, a pony tail, or combed back away from your face. If you like your hair down, keep it down as you’ll want to be yourself and comfortable for the interview.

Make-Up – Lip gloss, mascara, and blush is perfect when going for an interview. Avoid bright and bold colours for the interview as this could distract the interviewer. You’ll want them to remember you for the amazing things you said not the bright colour of your lips.

Accessories – Pearls are a girl’s best friend too! Pearl earrings and a necklace will make you look classy. A small black purse will go with any outfit you choose. For nails, have them fully painted or clean. Not a visible accessory, but the amount of perfume you use should be minimal or none since a strong smell could upset the interviewer.

BE YOU! – The best piece of advice from Sutton and Young was to remember that, “it’s about your voice and who you are.” Besides looking great, it is also about being prepared for the interview and having confidence. “Let yourself shine through!”

This was a fun and practical workshop. Sutton and Young gave extremely helpful dressing tips for the interview. They wrapped the workshop up by also giving tips on how to make a great impression at Prom! We left with a brochure that displayed photo examples of outfits for a formal interview, a work event, and a casual meeting (see visual below). Without a doubt, GEMgirls will be more than ready for future interviews

Four Basic Looks for Interviewing
Four Basic Looks for Interviewing

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.