Prepare for interviews by thinking through your attire

What you wear to an interview will send a message. Do you know what you are saying?

Preparing for a job interview is important for success, and there are many ways to do this. Michigan State University Extension recommends coming up with questions you want to ask the interview committee, practicing answering questions, researching the organization and dressing for success.

What you wear to an interview will send a message to your potential employer. First impressions are formed right away when you meet your interviewer; take that opportunity to impress them. Sometimes candidates don’t think this is very important if they are applying for part-time or seasonal work, but lack of attention to your attire will tell the interviewer you’re not taking the process very seriously. People are very influenced by non-verbal messages, including dress, and this can be the deciding factor between candidates!

How you dress can also influence your own confidence and focus. When you take time to pick out your interview outfit, you are visioning sitting in the room with your interviewer and preparing your brain for what it will feel like to be interviewed. When you are wearing comfortable clothes (as opposed to something that is too small or ill-fitting), you will be able to focus on answering questions instead of pulling at your sleeves or dress hem.

Here are some tips to remember when you are dressing for an interview:

  • Dress nicer than the everyday clothing for the job. For most part time and seasonal jobs, khaki pants and a button-down or polo shirt will work (for males or females). Even if you are applying for a manual labor position, dressing up for the interview shows respect for your interviewer and the time they are taking out of their day to talk to you. As you progress to more career-focused positions, your attire will get more formal (i.e., suits).
  • Avoid distractions. Dangly earrings, strong perfume or cologne, clothes that reveal too much skin such as short skirts, and visible tattoos will all distract an employer from your skills. Keep accessories to a minimum.
  • Choose muted colors. Stay away from bold colors or prints, or anything that has a name brand label on it. You can dress more to fit your personality once you have the job, but during the interview you want people to focus on you, not your fashion choices.
  • Give your clothes a test run. Ask a trusted adult in your life to give you feedback on your interview outfit (such as a teacher, coach or 4-H leader). If you need help finding something appropriate, ask around to friends or family to see if you can borrow something. Oftentimes, interview clothes don’t get as much use, and can be borrowed from someone else without looking too worn.

Thinking through your interview attire will help you feel confident and able to showcase your skills in an interview. You can find more career preparation resources on the Michigan 4-H website! 

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