I have recently started a search for a new job. And an essential part of any interview process is on-site interviews. The question then is what to wear on an important day. And this exact question inspired me to write this post. But keep in mind, I live in the Bay Area, CA, where most employees encourage casual dressing.
My initial contact with any potential employer starts with the in-house recruiter. Most of the time, this is a friendly conversation over the phone to make sure that both parties are on the same page. At the end of each call, I get a quick overview of the potential next steps, including interview day attire:
our office enjoys a casual dress code, so please feel free to wear casual clothing to your interview, or something along these lines.
It has been a while since my last interview, so I needed a little bit of time to develop an interview uniform. It took me a few tries, but I think I got it now.
Outstanding Dress Option.
My absolute favorite is the dress option. I prefer dresses, a shade of navy, browns, or grey (a subtle pattern is O.K.). The dress has to go past my knees - anything shorter makes me feel a bit uneasy. Also, I avoid anything with deep V-necks, sleeveless, or shear.
Whenever I wear a dress, I always remember to put on tights. Yes, they are critical - I do not skip this step.
Once I have a good base, I add a mid- to a long-length cardigan. Here you can go for almost any color or pattern. Make sure it works with the dress, though.
The rest of my look is very minimal: wedding ring, everyday earrings, freshly washed hair pulled back, and minimal makeup.
My shoes are not flashy: black or navy low to mid-height heels are the best. Avoid sneakers.
Side note: I also grab a note pad and pen to take notes during an interview.
Reliable Pants Option.
The pants option is reliable and gets the job done. I go with classic cut black or navy pants followed by a dress shirt. I think a white shirt is dressy for a casual look, so I opt out for shades of brown, navy or cream.
Once I have a base ready, I add a sleeveless cardigan. If you do not have a cardigan, then any sleeves sweater, blazer, or vest will do.
The rest of the suggestions are the same as the dress option above, minus the tights comment.
Professional Skirt Option.
The skirt option is my second favorite. To successfully implement it, we need to borrow recommendations from the dress and pants options.
The base is a mid-length pencil skirt in a shade of black, grey, camel, or navy. Solid colors are great, but you can spice it up with classical patterns like polka-dots, checks, or stripes. Since my legs are exposed, I need tights. Now let's add a long sleeve shirt in neutral tones.
The base is ready. At this point, I can add a sleeveless cardigan, blazer, vest, or oversized jacket. The rest of the pointers are the same as above.
The main goal is to project a pulled-together look that, in turn, will mean a pulled-together personality. To that end, make sure your clothes are ironed, cleaned, and fit well. Stick to natural tones as well as navy and black colors. Wash your hair and clip your nails.
The last piece of advice. Always write a thank you email to everyone who interviewed you.
Do not know email addresses? Hack them!
Check out the recruiter's email address and use that as a template. First name dot last name or first name initial followed by the last name? I guarantee you will stand out and projecting a go-getter personality.
Good luck with your search! And never give up!