Dressing for an Interview

By Sarah Mann

Elm Staff Writer

Picking out an outfit should be one of the easier and less stressful parts of interviewing for a job, but it can be difficult to dress professionally when you’re used to showing up to class in jeans and a sweatshirt. Vicky Sawyer, associate director of the Center for Career Development, has some helpful tips for students who don’t have closets full of office appropriate outfits.

First of all, let’s go over the basics of what employers expect. We all know some major things—nothing too revealing and nothing too casual. Don’t wear crop tops and ripped jeans to any interviews.  Sawyer said, “You don’t want your outfit to distract [the potential employer] from your achievements and what you’re saying.” She advises against bright colors, loud prints, overly trendy items, and visible tattoos during interviews.

We know the gist of what an interview outfit should look like, but did you know that the ideal interview suit jacket sleeves should fall ½ inch below the wrist, and that capris and cropped pants are not considered “business professional?” Open-toed shoes and sandals should not be worn, and you don’t want anything with a platform or stiletto heel.

Sawyer said that most students don’t really know what dress slacks are, since we, as a generation, are used to more tightly fitted pants and jeans. If you are going to wear pants to an interview, make sure they’re real pants, not just dark jeans, and that they have a more tailored fit versus a formfitting look. That said, some of these rules may be relaxed for a more business casual look. All of this information, plus pictures and more details, can be found in the Career Center’s handouts on professional attire.

Now, the hardest part is attaining your professional clothing. Speaking from personal experience, I think most students would be happy to wear even the most boring, conservative office-appropriate outfit for an interview if it just magically appeared in their closets. Suits and other formal wear can be pretty expensive, though, and the cost is especially frustrating when you know you’re not going to wear it that often.

For this reason, Sawyer suggests going to the thrift shops in Chestertown, such as Hidden Treasures, Nearly New, and Empty Hangers to buy interview appropriate clothing for a decent price. Take some relief in the fact that in many cases, you won’t need to dress this every single day for your job. Sawyer said, “You want to dress like the person at the top of the company for the interview, but once you’re accepted, you can see what other people are wearing on a daily basis.”

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