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Interview Tips

Dressing for the Interview - Women's Tips

Your interview is not the venue for a “What Not to Wear” episode. Your fashion individuality should be left at home. Follow these tips to make a good first impression with your future employer.

Don't try to distinguish yourself by way of your attire; that's more likely to be harmful or distracting than helpful. Stand out by polishing your interviewing techniques, brushing up on corporate and industry knowledge, and by arriving punctually, well-rested and well-groomed. It's important that you never let your clothes, for better or for worse, upstage your performance.

Suit Color: Women should choose a dark suit in black, navy blue, or gray for a job interview. Avoid patterned suits other than those with subtle stripes. Ideally you'll want to own at least two interview suits of varying colors. You can, however, simulate a second suit by simply using different blouses underneath the same one.

Blouse: While white or ivory are always safe bets, any light tone that matches your suit is appropriate. The fabric should always be natural-either silk or cotton.

Style: Skirts are traditionally preferable to pantsuits as they are more formal, but in all the most conservative of environments either are acceptable. Your suit should be comfortable, but not casual or sporty in appearance. The climate may factor into your decision; a skirt is preferable in wet weather since pants may get damp, but wrap-around skirts can be tragic on windy days.

Fit: Avoid tight-fitting suits! Suit jackets should fit so that they can be easily buttoned without any noticeable pull marks across the fabric. Skirts should at least reach your knees.

Shoe Color and Style: Interviewees should wear dark, polished, closed-toe leather pumps that match the interview suit or are one shade darker than it. The heel should be one to two inches high, according to your height. Try not to wear a brand new pair of shoes since walking may be awkward or uncomfortable at first. If necessary, break new shoes in at home before your interview.

Belt: If you are wearing a belt, choose a small, conservative, solid-colored leather style belt with a simple buckle. It should match your shoes and purse.

Purse: Your purse should be small and plain, matching your shoes and belt. Avoid using an everyday purse for an interview, especially if it is filled with belongings. If you are carrying a cell phone or pager in your purse, turn it off before you begin your interview!

Make-up and Nails: If you wear make-up, be sure to use light shades for an interview. Apply it in a bright room to simulate the lighting conditions in most offices. Nail polish should also be of a light shade or clear. Of course, make sure your nails are properly manicured and are clean.

Stockings: Wear plain stockings that best match your skin tone. Keep a spare pair tucked away in your purse for emergencies.

Jewelry: Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. If you wear earrings, plain studs are the most cautious. A single necklace is acceptable, as is a watch and a ring or two. You may wish to add a pin to your suit jacket to add color and pizzazz, but be sure to shy away from any controversial insignias.

Perfume: Use only a little perfume, or none at all. People can be allergic to certain perfume scents, plus you'll probably be seated in a confined space.

Hair: Your hair should be clean, dry and neatly combed. Women with longer hair should wear it back so it doesn't become a distraction. Dressy hair clips should replace more bulky, everyday clips. If it is damp on the day of your interview, take this into account and adjust your hairstyle accordingly to avoid frizzing. Always carry an umbrella if there's even a remote chance of rain or snow.

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